How Installation and Dismantle Companies Work

Today we look at other types of “non-official contractors” that support trade shows. They are the Installation and Dismantle companies that provide on-site show floor labor for individual exhibits.

These companies are also known as “I & D” contractors or “labor” companies.

So how do they work?

These labor companies usually have just a small storage facility in major show cities that are operated by a “city manager” who is a full time salaried employee of the labor company. The storage facility provides space for ladders, job boxes and other basic show floor supplies. When needed, the I & D company will load their vehicles and deliver all their supplies to the show site.

Deliveries of equipment and supplies and other overhead costs (including the city managers salary) are absorbed by the I & D company as they only charge a client for the actual hours worked on-site.

They usually do charge a slightly higher rate and a 4 hour minimum to offset some overhead costs and because many unions require a 4 hour minimum when a union worker is called in by a company.

In some cases I & D Companies are willing to waive the minimum when they have multiple clients on a show so it’s good to ask for a waiver, up front, at the time you schedule your labor.

Your display house is in a better position to be granted lower rates and waivers as they tend to have more long term relations with these companies.

The I & D company will have pre-established contracts with the local unions as most trade show locations in the United States are union affiliated. The unions provide labor to support these I & D companies as well as the show’s General Contractor.

Many display houses also have union contracts in their city but not in most out of town locations. Most dedicated I & D companies have multiple locations. Display houses like to work with I & D companies to support their clients in these out of town locations. The display house will send a supervisor to manage the complexity of bigger exhibits and then they will use local I & D company labor to work under the direction of their supervisor. These I &D companies usually have a core group of highly trained craftsmen that work on a regular basis just for them, even though they are still temporary union workers.

Now, the General Contractor (also called the “GC”) that is in charge of the overall trade show will also have labor available to support exhibitors from the same union or labor pool.

The first tip I can give you is that you tend to get more “Lead men” through the I & D company then with the general contractor.

Another distinction to note:  – The GC labor can be slightly less expensive in many cases and they do not require a 4 hour minimum as most I & D companies do.

So my second tip is if you only need help for an hour or two then the GC labor may be better on your budget.

I also want to say “Stop breaking your back.” An hour or two of labor help on a show floor can really make a difference instead of you trying to handle things yourself.

My Third tip is – Be smart: learn when to get your labor. Don’t request labor at 9 or 10 am when they get a paid break (on your clock) from 10 to 10:15. Instead get your labor from 8 to 10 or 10:30 to 12 noon. Also learn when overtime goes into effect at the end of each day. Sometimes it is 4:30 and other times it is 5pm.

Another quick tip I will cover in later episodes— but I will throw it out here now — is sometimes it is good to dismantle on overtime when comparing the extra cost against overtime drayage if you wait until the next day to dismantle on straight time. I know that I will get a lot of questions about this but these are some of the tricks of the trade.

Now – If you have a larger project, and prefer the benefits of lead men that work on a regular basis with the I &D companies, then these specialized companies are available in most convention cities.

Talk to your display house. Many display houses have reduced rate pricing with I &D companies which help offset some third party costs. Reduced rate pricing can also position their rates sometimes lower than the GC’s rates.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM.

We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.