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The 6 Questions With Rob Cohen


Rob Cohen and the rest of the team of professionals at Display, Supply & Lighting, Inc. bring a world of lighting experience and innovation to the trade show industry. There are a lot of sources out there right now that can provide everything from wires to full lighting systems and what’s becoming crystal clear is that they are not all delivering the quality we expect nor does the product being sold all meet the UL standard criteria more exhibit hall jurisdiction requires.  When Optima is faced with a new custom challenge, or working on a new product that requires lighting, we only work with the best. We turn to a name you can trust, Rob Cohen, DS&L.

SPECIAL NOTE : Just remember, don’t ever, ever, ever tamper with a hotel smoke detector – RC is what you might call a professional!

This week I asked Rob Cohen, DSL Group The 6 Questions

1. Tradeshow industry lore is that we all just fell into tradeshow and once you’re in you never leave. For many people that is certainly true. For others, they leave but a part of them remains.  How did you get into the business?

RC – I lead a group of investors that purchased an arm light manufacturer from a classified advertisement in the Wall Street Journal.

And who inspired you to grow into your Tradeshow career?

RC – Many people influenced and inspired me once I got into the industry.  I would have to say that Jill Brookman, the then owner and editor of Exhibit Builder Magazine, was the first to really make me believe that there was a real career for me to pursue in the trade show industry.

2. What would you be if you were not in Tradeshow?
RC – I would probably still be practicing corporate law.

3. Without considering the customers you visit, focusing only on the location, what is your favorite city to hang out in for business travel and why?
AuthorRC – San Francisco.  I love being down by the water and the vibe of the city.

4. What experience do you recall as a nightmare when it happened but can sit back and laugh about it now?

RC – It was a TS2 in Philadelphia.  My original company was introducing a new line of light fixtures.  I set up the booth and plugged the new line of lights in.  Almost immediately, smoke started coming out of the fixtures.  I unplugged them and took them down, fearful that the fire marshal would see (or smell) this event and ruin my entire purpose for being at the show.  I took the lights back to my hotel room and discovered that the assembly company had failed to remove a protective film from the reflectors.  I unplugged the smoke detector in my room and sat there for 3 hours plugging the lights in and unplugging them to burn off the film.  The next day I got up early, went back to the show hall, installed the lights and worked the show. 20 years later, I can laugh about it!

5. Do you have any hobbies? How does your hobby influence your industry work and vice versa?

RC – Golf certainly helps to build business-social relationships and it also teaches you that you are not going to be doing something perfectly every time you do it.

6. If you could send a message to yourself day one of your tradeshow career what advice would you give yourself?

RC – Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Thanks Rob! Check out DS&L at DSLgroup.com
Check back next week where we put Reid Sherwood
of Classic Exhibits under the lights and ask him
“The 6 Questions” 

Have someone that you would like me to ask “The 6 Questions” ?
Send me an email at gcamarato@optimagfx.com

What is The 6 Questions?

A clever friend of mine, we’ll call him Harold Mintz, just to use a name, once hipped me to a trick. Harold explained that whenever he is at a party and the conversation is slow he loosens things up with a question. “What did you go to school for and what are you doing now.” Everybody has a story – Brilliant!

Piggybacking on big H’s idea, I’m running a new blog series titled The 6 Questions. I have some of the icons of our industry, folks you all know, lined up and ready to reveal the how, why and whatever. Our tradeshow industry is packed full of some of the most interesting people. They each have a unique story to share. Thanks for reading!   ~ g

About our Author
Gary Camarato is the Vice President of Marketing & Creative Development at Optima™ and has been in the Trade Show industry since 1992.

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