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The big guys

Dan BurkhartGraphic designer Lori Thompson applies decals to a booth for a trade-show exhibit at Sierra Group Exhibits in Grass Valley on Jan. 10.
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A Loma Rica Industrial Park company is banking on the fact that for high-tech businesses, the trade show must go on.

Construction is under way on a $1.7 million Sierra Group Exhibits building that will expand its trade-show exhibit business and help it set up bigger exhibits.



The 27,000-square-foot building on Loma Rica Drive will allow Sierra Group Exhibits to build mammoth trade-show exhibits inside the building. Some of the exhibits might be as large as 5,400-square-feet – the size of a large house.




In its current 22,000-square-foot location on Grass Valley Avenue, where it set shop in 1981, the company can set up a 1,200-square-foot exhibit, and has done larger ones in sections.

But the 20-year-old company’s current space is sectioned into separate bays.

“In the long run, we’ll be in a good position with the new building because it will make us more efficient,” said James Kelley, creative director for Sierra Group Exhibits.

The new building will also allow the company to grow its revenues 35 percent and hire more people, said Sierra Group Exhibits’ owner Gabriel Galyon. The company saw revenues of $2.2 million in 2001 and employs 20 people.

The building will not only attract new customers, but provide proper service for them, said Galyon.

Construction began in October 2001, and is expected to be finished this spring.

Sierra Group Exhibits does exhibits for close to 100 shows a year. Many of its customers are high-tech businesses in Silicon Valley.

The high-tech industry has cut back on some of its marketing due to slumping business, which in turn has meant less business for Sierra Group Exhibits. Its current employment is down somewhat from its typical staffing level of 25 people.

But trade shows remain one of the main marketing tools for technology firms.

“(The technology slowdown) caused some to pull back their marketing budgets,” said Kelley. “For the high-tech industry, they have no other alternatives.”

And the companies take their exhibits seriously. The average price of a Sierra Group exhibit is $80,000. More companies are setting up large, two-story exhibits.

That will make Sierra Group’s new building more valuable, because the company can put together exhibits inside up to 20 feet high.

And it can set up the two-story exhibits for customers to view before the exhibits are shipped off to a trade show.

The new building is on 1.8 acres in English Mountain Industrial Park, 1291 Loma Rica Drive. Bill Litchfield Construction is building it. Lauren Anderson Design is the architect.


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