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The 6 Questions with Alex Hill


Alex has been an extended member of the Optima family since we first started producing trade show graphics. We have worked together to service our customers and search to provide products that meet the high standard our clients sell. Alex has helped the R&D team here at Optima with countless projects; our innovative collaborations have been very rewarding! Alex has taught me a lot about business and how to maximize your time when traveling and walking industry shows, for that I am forever grateful… Another example of, work just isn’t work when you work with friends!

I Asked Alex Hill, Visual Merchandising 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?

AuthorAH – In 1981, I was managing a sales force that provided word processing mag cards, floppy disks and ink cartridges to the private and government sector. My boss was hired by ExpoSystems as a regional sales manager. The following year he got promoted and asked me to take his place. I interviewed with Bill Zink, the president of ExpoSystems, the following week and got the job. I had staffed trade show booths several times over the years but never gave any thought as to how they were designed and built. Well, that changed quickly!

And who inspired you to grow into your Tradeshow career?
AH – When I came into the industry, the build side was either Custom or Portable. You had to make a choice as custom houses seldom promoted portable or modular alternatives. Today, most traditional custom houses are fully integrated with portable and modular solutions.

I chose to stay with the portable side and was influenced greatly by Judy Watson of Nomadic Display. Judy gave me the opportunity to travel the world setting up a global sales force. It was while looking for a vinyl graphic partner to support our dealers that I first met Jim Hoffmann who had just founded Optima Graphics. Jim is a mentor and close friend to this day. And, Optima continues to be a partner as a supplier and a customer.

2. What would you be if you were not in Tradeshow?

AH – Probably running a charitable foundation related to elementary or secondary education.

Author3. 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?

AH – Miami…it’s the city where my wife and I went to college. I love the vibrancy, the pulse and the weather.

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

AH – I made a sales call to interview a potential dealer. When I sat down at his desk and looked up, there was a large portrait of his wife in a baby doll nightie hanging above his chair. To say that I had a hard time following the conversation would be a colossal understatement! 

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

AH – I have three athletic hobbies; running, swimming and golf. Running helps me acclimate to any city I visit. Swimming and golf have allowed me to interact with a variety of customers and partners worldwide.

Author6. If you could send a message to yourself day one of your tradeshow career what advice would you give yourself?

AH – Make friends and never burn a bridge.

Thanks Alex!
The pics are of Alex, Edwin, Me and Hankai at dinner. Italian in Shanghai (notice my glass is smaller, cause I have no idea what that was we were having). Next pic; Alex and Dave golfing after those nuts went swimming across the English Channel! The other pics is Steve Riches, Tom McAndrews, Alex Hill, Dave Brown and Brad Anderson, taken before the Golden Gate swim, Alcatraz and Sharks, no thanks!

Next week I ask Edwin Van der Vennet, BeMatrix, The 6 Questions.
Have someone that you would like me to ask “The 6 Questions” ?
I thought so, just 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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