Renting Trade Show Carpet from GC or Buying?

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I want to go over rental carpet from a general contractor on a show floor. I have seen this happen too many times where we have to adjust our strategy on the show floor. From what I am hearing and seeing from clients and from other exhibitors as to why they don’t own their own carpets or why they don’t rent from their display house is because they feel that with the general contractor’s carpet and the price they pay, it includes labor and drayage and everything else so it becomes easier.

When you have a 20’x20’ or 20’x30’ or bigger island exhibit on a show floor, I want to tell you STOP! Don’t do it through the GC (general contractor) unless you are into total convenience. Let me quote some of the prices like for example for a 20’x20’, it ranges between $2,500-$3,000 for a standard carpet and pad. For 20’x30’, I am seeing $4,000 and higher that you are paying for a piece of rental carpet. So let’s get into the numbers.

You can buy a 20’x20’ aisle 40 or 50 oz. carpet which is three times the quality for about $900.00 which is a far cry from $3,000. So if you own the carpet and with a little bit of storage which is about $100 a year, you can store it. And for a 20’x30’, it might be $900-$1,100 which is again a far cry from $4,000 to rent from a GC.

Now let’s talk about the installation and dismantle time – two-man hours to install it and one-man hour to take it back out that might be $300-$400. Then you talk about drayage – couple of hundred pounds for a 20’x20’, 300pds.for a 20’x30’ and so on. Now let’s add all that up and you are still talking half the cost of a GC rental every time on the show floor.

So when do you rent from GC? For linear exhibits like a 10’x10’ or 10’x20’ especially if you have to air freight the carpet. But if you are doing over 10’x20’, you really have to do the math and weigh it out. It does not take anything to lay it from a labor stand point, it does not take a whole lot of time to figure out the costing for drayage as opposed to not having to pay the drayage to GC. A whole lot of numbers and whole lot of math.

Now EAC (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor) – a third option that a lot of people do not know is to rent it from your display house or the EAC. We are going to undercut the GC’s price by half atleast and then a couple of hours and the drayage in, you are still making out 30% or 40% of what you would pay. Think twice – a little bit of drayage + a little bit of labor and your price as compared to renting from a GC is still possibly half of what they are charging.

As always please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about We’ll see you next week. Until then I’m your host, Michael Gray, telling you to relax in the exhibitor lounge.