• Jo Mayer


Evolve began with one simple idea. Bring a bespoke, custom-build service to market, and deliver it with Showlite's legendary customer service and industry expertise. Paul Slaney, Showlite's managing director, sensed that exhibitors wanted more from their official suppliers, especially when it came to bespoke stands. Showlite - with its rock-solid reputation for excellence - was perfectly poised to provide bespoke stand design services with mostly existing assets and resources.

Showlite then secured the services of their trusted freelancer, Tracey Martin, who had helped the team with some of the more complex custom build stands and features in the past. Prior to freelancing, Tracey led a well-known organiser's custom build department for several years, delivering complex features and space-only stands to a growing number of stakeholders. With her well-established credentials and market knowledge, Tracey immediately grasped the potential of Paul Slaney's original idea, and pitched the notion of an autonomous, separate, custom build division with Showlite.

And so Evolve was born.

Tracey set to work building a team, hiring in talented creative designers and account managers to get the ball rolling, and soon landed Evolve's first business win, in 2017.

Within two years, their vision has been thoroughly vindicated. Evolve has grown rapidly since delivering its first bespoke stand at the 2018 Food & Drink Expo; to date Evolve has delivered 41 bespoke custom build stands, 53 eye-catching visitor attractions and features at 12 shows; It has won more business with existing organisers, including being appointed sole supplier of custom build stands to three events and creating features for Fresh Montgomery at their 3 largest shows.

Evolve was also an Innovation Award finalist at the recent Association of Event Organisers (AEO) Awards, for its new bespoke package range of flexible, modular designs using Evolve's own hybrid build system.

"It was fantastic to make the final cut for an award from the organiser community", said Tracey, "and although we were only runners-up, it still felt that we were receiving recognition for what we've achieved in such a short space of time."

"Our customers already know and trust the Showlite brand, which has led to being sole supplier of bespoke stands and features to three shows already, " Tracey explained, "so that's been important to our growth, but our strength lies in our autonomy. We've been able to read and react to the market requirements, assign resources to research and development, and bring a new product to market, with unrivalled speed."

Evolve's customers keep coming back, from individual exhibitors to organisers, wanting more exhibition features. The excellent customer service is a factor in retention, but so is the strong creative team:

"Evolve's designers have a talent for understanding a client's vision," Tracey said, "and then translating it into reality. It's not a science - our customers may have very clear, precise plans and ideas, or may talk in terms of emotions and feelings, so our creative team always works closely with them through the design phase so that the finished work always meets or exceeds their expectations."




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