Audiovisual & Staging Pioneers

We were there.

JACK ROOT INTERVIEW – PART 4

Building a quality audiovisual company requires the pursuit of top talent.  Jack possessed the business, sales, and organizational skills, but building a world-class staging company meant that an unorthodox recruitment strategy would be necessary to lure the finest technological brainpower in the industry.  Where do you find such people? 

LISTEN TO PART 4 OF THE AUDIO SERIES:

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DOUG HUNT INTERVIEW – PART 1

We are taking a short break from the Jack Root series.  We will resume Jack’s interview after he gets the opportunity to review the latest audio clips.

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In March of 2009, we began conducting interviews for the Audiovisual and Staging Pioneers history project.  One of the first pioneers to show an interest was Doug Hunt.  I met Doug at Starbucks one bright and sunny morning in 2009, notebook in hand.  Little did I know, Doug had a recorder in his pocket.  He sent me the recording soon after the interview to help with the writing of the article. It now seems better to publish the recordings of the interviews rather than lengthy articles.

 In Part 1 Doug discusses the inception of multi-image programming. As far as we know, slide projector programming began in the mid 1960s. Staging Techniques would retrofit the Kodak 550 projector to higher light output. It could accept commands from a programming device. Eventually programming advanced to give birth to a company called AVL … and ultimately widescreen productions.

 Listen to part 1 of the Doug Hunt interview:

NOTE: PLEASE PARDON THE POOR AUDIO QUALITY.  I DID NOT KNOW AT THE TIME WE WOULD BE USING A POCKET RECORDER.  THE CONTENT IS EXCELLENT; THEREFORE I DECIDED TO GO FORWARD WITH THE ORIGINAL.  I DID MY BEST TO CLEAN IT UP USING SONY SOUNDFORGE SOFTWARE.

JACK ROOT INTERVIEW – PART 3

Jack is tired of traveling and looks to the future.  He searches for a new career in business communications. When asked what prepared him to go out on his own, he points to a variety of things: reading the Wall Street Journal, growing up in an entrepreneurial family, and a love for photography. He had learnt promotions and design and how to lead a sales organization from his former employer.  But serving in the U.S. Marine Corps is where he found the most important skill of all …

LISTEN TO PART 3 OF THE AUDIO SERIES:

JACK ROOT INTERVIEW – PART 2

Jack Root ponders how the furniture industry could use presentation technology. He catches the AV bug, changes career at age 44, and jumps in full time by acquiring Audio Photo Services in 1967.  Along with the package come three hotel contracts: The Los Angeles Biltmore, the Century Plaza, and the Beverly Hilton. The commission rate paid at the time is …

LISTEN TO PART 2 OF THE AUDIO SERIES:

JACK ROOT INTERVIEW – PART 1

AVHQ will go down in history as one of the finest audiovisual companies that ever was.  Jack Root, the founder, inspired and mentored great men like Stephen Goot and Ed Goodman, among others to grow their own AV companies.

 This is part one of a series on the history of AVHQ.  Jack talks about his start in audiovisual.  It’s difficult to believe that this large, multi-million dollar staging operation got going because Jack thought his sales meetings were dull. To spice things up he bought an overhead projector!

LISTEN TO PART 1 OF THE AUDIO SERIES:

CATERPILLAR, INC. – EARLY PIONEER IN TRADESHOWS, STAGING AND AUDIOVISUAL

My name is Nicole Thaxton and I am the Corporate Archivist for Caterpillar Inc.  I am responsible for collecting and preserving information and materials relating to the history of Caterpillar Inc. and its product lines.    

Caterpillar and its predecessors – The Holt Manufacturing Company and the C. L. Best Tractor Co. – have a long history of putting together shows, exhibits and equipment demonstrations.  

On April 22, 1918, British General Ernest Dunlop Swinton publicly honored the Holt company's contributions to World War I.

The Holt Manufacturing Company (1892-1925), one of the first companies in the US to adopt the use of photography and film to protect its intellectual property and machine designs, held many small local demonstrations both at its plants and out in the public where company representatives would run the tractors through their “paces.”  The Holts also participated in state fairs, the annual Good Roads national equipment trade shows (today known as ConAg), participated in contests around the world, and set up special (and often elaborate) exhibits at special events such as the Panama-Pacific Exhibition held in California in 1915.  We also have references to motion picture films that the Holts produced to showcase their machines and what they could do, but none of these films have survived.  

The C. L. Best Gas Traction Co. (1910-1921)/C. L. Best Tractor Co. (1921-1925) also participated in fairs and held small demonstrations – but not to the same extent that the Holts did.  

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Caterpillar (May 1925-present)
        – participated in its first national Road Show equipment trade show in January 1926
        – held a major equipment demonstration at its demonstration area at its plant in East Peoria, Illinois, in the fall of 1930
        – opened an equipment showroom in 1930 – reported to be the largest of its kind anywhere in the world at the time – which held one piece of every machine and attachment Caterpillar built and offered along with attachments built for Caterpillar machines by other manufacturers.  This showroom was open to customers and the public and even offered a movie theater which, of course, featured films about Caterpillar machines.  This showroom had over 15,000 visitors a year.  
        – held many regional dealer meetings since 1925
        – held its first world-wide dealer meeting in 1935

From the onset, the Caterpillar dealer network took over responsibility for participating in exhibits and fairs at the local level.  Caterpillar would eventually replace its East Peoria demonstration area with larger demonstration and training facilities – first in Illinois then expanding to 17 other locations around the world.  Caterpillar would also continue the tradition of participating in large trade shows from a corporate level – ConAg, MINExpo, Bauma, etc.

For more information, you could look through one of our recent corporate histories, All in a Day’s Work, published during our 75th anniversary which your local library would be able to obtain for you through interlibrary loan.  If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Kind Regards,
Nicole

Nicole Thaxton, Certified Archivist
Corporate Archivist
Caterpillar Inc.

[Go to the Caterpillar history page on their website]

IT TAKES AN ACT OF CONGRESS TO GET MY TRADESHOW BUDGET APPROVED

 

Expositions and exhibitions have long been considered an essential business development tool in our country.  Eventually they became known as “tradeshows” because of their positive influence on trade and commerce. They have been milestones of commercial and industrial progress in America for over one hundred and fifty years. They cultivate taste, provide material for comparative shopping, and acquaint people with new markets.  Many branches of business have been called into existence or extended their market reach by the influence of tradeshows.

America’s first international exhibition was held in New York City in 1853. On a much larger scale was a tradeshow held in Philadelphia in 1876, known as the Centennial Exhibition. Then followed the International Cotton Exposition at Atlanta in 1881, the Southern Exposition at Louisville in 1883, the World’s Colombian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, the Midwinter Exposition at San Francisco in 1893-1894, the International Cotton Exposition at Atlanta in 1895, the Tennessee Centennial Exposition at Nashville in 1897, the Trans-Mississippi Exposition at Omaha in 1898, the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901, the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition at Charleston in  1902, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at Saint Louis in 1904, and the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition at Portland in 1905.

So important were conferences and expositions to the development of trade and commerce that Presidents and Congress were often involved in promoting them.

In 1854 Franklin Pierce commissioned an illustrator to document an (unnamed) conference held in London.

He Loved Tradeshows

In 1861 Abraham Lincoln petitioned Congress to authorize a delegation to present at an exposition in London. The President wanted assurance that an adequate tradeshow booth would be funded so Americans could “pride themselves upon their proficiency in industrial arts.” Since no naval vessel could be spared, Lincoln proposed that a merchant ship be hired to transport the tradeshow equipment and staging.  At the height of the American Civil War, Lincoln personally dispatched Joseph Wright, Governor of Indiana, to the International Agricultural Exhibition in Hamburg. The Governor reported back to Lincoln upon his return. A summary was then forwarded to Congress and the agriculture community. Although Wright did not submit an expense report, Lincoln ordered reimbursement of any monies spent. A few months before his assassination, Lincoln called on Congress to exhibit American products and ingenuity at an international exhibition in Portugal.

In 1866 President Andrew Johnson asked Congress to send a representative to a fishery and water culture event in Bordeaux, France; when they did not act, the President reprimanded them and urged them to appoint a representative without further delay.

Ulysses S. Grant secured $200,000 from Congress to send artisans and scientific men to an international exhibition “of great magnitude” held in Vienna in 1873. Finding Congress in a good mood, he convinced them to pony up for America’s Centennial Celebration. Next, he demanded that America take part in the International Prison Congress to be held in Stockholm the following year. Grant argued before Congress that these exhibitions were the direction “advanced civilizations” needed to go and that they increased the elevation of industry and labor. These events promoted “good will” between nations.  

Too late now, I already booked the venue

Rutherford Hayes got the tradeshow bug in 1878. He urged Congress to adopt the necessary legislation to enable the people of the United States to participate in the International Exhibition of Agriculture, Industry, and the Fine Arts. He revealed that he had already reserved space in the exhibit hall so there was not much they could do except approve the President’s wishes. Next, he authorized and secured funding for two tradeshows in Australia. He attributed the “friendly” relations America had with the German Empire to a presence at the 1880 International Exhibition of Fish and Fisheries held in Berlin. Rutherford boasted that the tradeshow was “extremely successful and meritorious,”   winning the praise of the Emperor himself.  American exhibitors won awards not only for their private businesses, but for the country as well.  In view of the important scientific, industrial, and commercial advances being made in Europe, the President wanted to take part in an 1881 international exhibition at the Champs Élysées in Paris. Looking forward, Rutherford also wanted approval to send a U.S. representative to the International Polar Congress at Hamburg scheduled in 1893.

In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison instructed the joint session of Congress to provide means of support to take part in an Italian exposition.  This cooperation would fortify a relationship with their country.  The next year, 1891, Harrison wanted Congress to finance the construction of a Chinese-American exhibit booth at the Columbian Exposition (celebrating Christopher Columbus, not the country).  Meanwhile, Spain was planning a Christopher Columbus Exhibition of their own, a show that ran from September through December 1892; the President wanted funding for this event too. Since Spain promised to exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago it was only appropriate, reckoned Harrison, that America reciprocated.

It finally took an act of Congress, but in 1893 Grover Cleveland had provision for the celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.  The White House decided on having an international exhibition of arts, industries, manufacturers in Chicago. The event seems to be one of the earliest known corporate sponsorship events. Cleveland proudly announced the appointment of board members and managers of the Government exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exhibition. President Cleveland later chastised Congress in 1894 for lack of participation at the Antwerp Industrial Conference; their “falling short” of fully illustrating our nation’s ingenuity and industrial achievements at the tradeshow was blamed on lack of preparation.  

Hence, tradeshows and conferences proved to be a good investment for America. They not only benefited private industry but a means for sound foreign policy too.