We talked to Stan Kruss of Expo Centric about exhibition displays, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Stan Kruss: I can’t really complain; we have been fortunate in Australia with only a small percentage of COVID-19 cases compared to the rest of the world. From a business perspective, the impact COVID-19 has on the event industry has made the past few months very challenging.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Expo Centric.
Stan Kruss: I have always had a passion for the exhibition and event industry. I have worked in all sectors of the exhibition and event industry; I have been a show organizer, venue licensing manager for Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, sales manager at the Tasmanian Convention Bureau, and I also have managed an experiential marketing consultancy.
I believe that these past experiences have provided me with a unique perspective on the industry and helped in growing Expo Centric into a world-leading exhibition company. I gain pure satisfaction in seeing our clients achieve event success using Expo Centric’s custom exhibition stands.
Some of my most significant achievements include winning a number of entrepreneur and design awards and hitting the BRW fast 100 in 2014.
How does Expo Centric innovate?
Stan Kruss: Innovation is one of Expo Centric’s core values. All my staff are constantly researching and looking for ways to revolutionize and improve. This innovation is not limited to the products we supply, but also the systems and procedures we use every day.
Without this continual focus on innovation, Expo Centric would not have achieved the level of accomplishment we represent today.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Stan Kruss: COVID-19 has totally devastated the exhibition industry globally. The time we usually spend on designing and building exhibition stands has left us with space to work on improving company processes and procedures, ensuring they are the most effective for when events do return. This has been a luxury, as you never usually get time to complete these behind-the-scenes tasks. These tasks have included streamlining company processes to allow us to execute exhibitions better internally and for our clients.
The time has also allowed us to work on developing new technology. Like a lot of companies, we have worked hard to expand and strengthen our virtual experience offerings, as we believe these services and products will be used in a much larger capacity in the future.
We have also invested time and resources into developing and sourcing premium solutions for the Australian event and exhibition industry.
- We have worked hard to further expand our Virtual Experiences offering. Allowing our clients to truly engage with their customers like never before and embrace interactive technology.
- We are now exclusive Australian distributors of the AirClad range of portable event structures
- We offer an innovative portable booth, the TeleCapsule, that delivers a private and soundproof locality to connect and meet with customers
- We have developed Insyte, a virtual help desk with virtual face-to-face support
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Stan Kruss: The toughest decision I had to make as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was to let many of my staff go. Overseeing layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic was different from any past layoffs for one key reason: the dismissal was not due to specific job performance.
As the owner and charged with dismissing a wide swath of employees, I felt pulled in different directions: I felt a terrible feeling of empathy and guilt, but I also have a responsibility to the organization.
I learned that the best way to communicate with staff (both those I had to lay off and those continuing employment) was to be clear, concise, and unequivocal in all communications. To keep all staff informed and involved in the business’s progress. This level of transparency has given me more clarity to all my business decisions.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Stan Kruss: 2020 has been a rollercoaster year of emotions. I have heavily relied on physical practices to help combat and reduce stress, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet. My keen interest in biohacking has also helped me to deal with excess stress by using techniques to shape my biology to minimize the potential damage from stress, elevate the benefits of good stress, and develop my malleability to quickly recover from stress.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Stan Kruss: The events and exhibition landscape in Australia is very competitive with many players, but due to the devastating effects of COVID-19, I believe we will see fewer players when events and exhibitions do return.
The improvements and changes we have made within our company during 2020 will help us keep our standing as a world-leading solution provider. We will have the systems and processes in place to provide or clients with premium products and services.
We also have a number of unique products, solutions, and technologies that our competitors do not offer. We are exclusive Australian distributors for many of these offerings, allowing us to stand out and help our clients in ways others cannot.
Your final thoughts?
Stan Kruss: The event and exhibition market will be different for a long time. It will be a rough ride for the exhibition space for the next 3-4 years, but I am looking to experience the ‘rush’ you feel from executing the perfect event and exhibition space.