Creative Display Solutions, Inc., has a lot to show for itself, and its owner has a lot of advice to give about how small businesses can boost their revenue.
The company produces island displays, banner stands and pop up displays -- all of the exhibiting materials that companies use in trade shows -- since 2001.
In 2006, Creative Display Solutions grossed $1.5 million in revenue, and this year owner Maureen Borzacchiello says it is showing "about a 27% increase, year to date."
Borzacchiello believes she is in the right business at the right time.
marketing budgets are being cut, like TV and expensive print ads, the trade shows -- which offer the face-to-face experiential events -- are the last to go," she says.
Ramping up for the busy season, which starts in September, Borzacchiello took a recent 7 a.m. meeting to close a $100,000 deal with a client who participates in as many as 100 trade shows a year. And CDS recently launched an online product-management software program that allows its clients to view the progress of every show product that the company is building for them.
Best Price Solutions
The company keeps track of data to show the clients how their money is being spent, including what they're paying per lead coming in to their booth.
"These are tools that help companies go through lean times," says Borzacchiello.
Green -- and Lean -- Solutions
By utilizing the options to recycle and refurbish old exhibits, CDS can save the clients money, while also bringing them into the vanguard of sustainable solutions and reducing their carbon footprint.
"To produce a new 20' x 20' island exhibit, for example, might cost $120,000," explains Borzacchiello, "but we can redo the graphics and tweak or change or reconfigure a few of the components. It enables our client to spend only $20,000 or $30,000, and yet feel like they have new assets."
Going greener also means using lighter materials, such as the tension fabric as opposed to laminate walls with graphics adhered to them. Borzacchiello says that reduces a client's shipping footprint by at least 30%.
"At the end the day, we can reduce those carbon emissions from show to show," with shipping and other miscellaneous expenses.
Do What Makes You Happy
More than just a manager of cost efficiency and environmentally friendly solutions, Borzacchiello feels a key to her success is making sure that her customers have a great experience -- something she loosely calls the "warm fuzzies." She takes extra steps to ensure that, and trains her 10 employees to do the same.
A native of Long Island, N.Y., the 39-year-old Borzacchiello realized that a common theme in her life has been enjoying creating a good experience for people. She traces it to her first job, while still in high school, as a makeup artist at a local mall in her hometown.
"I loved it because I was making people feel great, teaching them how to take care of their skin, and feel better and re-create it for themselves," she says.
Before embarking on her own business, Borzacchiello worked for Nomadic Display, a New Jersey-based events display company, starting as a salesperson. She eventually would run that company as a general manager.
She moved up the ranks in the corporate world, and says she earned a comfortable six-figure salary -- but after years of extremely long work hours and an exhausting commute, she finally considered her options.
"I was working 80 to 100 hours
a week for someone else and realizing, I had this great husband that I loved dearly but rarely saw. I was in my 30s, I wanted a family. If I continued down that path, I wouldn't at the same time be able to fulfill what I wanted motherhood to be for me."
Take a Risk
For Borzacchiello starting her own business allowed her to set her own pace, so she could take the time to have her first child but also gave her the opportunity to create the business to match her own vision: "I took elements of what I loved from the previous business I worked for, and I could do the things that are important to me as a person, and I wove those into the culture and mission of the company."
"Most entrepreneurs," she says, "start with their core values, it comes through in what they do and why they do it. It's what gets me up in the morning."
To make sure that she's always in touch with how her clients, which include
, are feeling, Borzacchiello recently surveyed them.
"The common thread that resounded is that say they feel that we've 'got their back,' that we are looking out for their interest. I'm so pleased that it comes through, across the board."
It may seem to be a full departure from the world of cosmetics, but there is plenty of continuity. So it's no surprise that the tagline for her company is: Look Great, Feel Amazing.
Genia Gould is a freelance journalist based in New York City and the publisher of a community newspaper, WG News + Arts, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.