At Exhibit Concepts, this has become somewhat of an unofficial motto around our offices. After 39 years in the trade show, commercial interior, and museum industry, we know all too well that every project and each client is unique. When it comes to unique, however, nothing is more so than the wooden crates we use to ship property across the world for our customers.
There is no getting around it. Crates are expensive. And for clients with large exhibits requiring many crates, it can be a large line item cost. So, why are they so costly? What makes them such an important element of a successful trade show experience? When you know what goes into making these wooden marvels, it’s easy to see why the humble crate is much more than it seems.
Crates are Precious Snowflakes
It looks anything but special, a large but very plain wooden box with black letter stenciling. But they are special and have the most important job: they must protect and transport property as it travels all over the world. Crates must be strong, resilient, and reusable not just once, but for many years. No easy task, to be certain, but they are up for the job.
Each crate we build is 100% custom. It’s built by hand in a dedicated space in our production facility, designed and created with its specific contents in mind. This means that just like a snowflake, no two crates are exactly the same. Very special indeed.
In order to really appreciate what goes into building a crate, we have to go back to the beginning. At the beginning of any new project, our design and estimating team determine the number of crates required for a particular project. The work order is then passed to our crate builder Rick Rapp who enters all the specifications into a computer program. This produces a material list and he gets to work, carefully building each crate by hand with an AC plywood exterior, raw hardwood pine supports, and hardwood ply feet. Inside, crates are made of a 1 x 4 frame and covered in cotton felt to protect the contents and prevent any friction during the shipping process. (Can you add how long it takes to make a crate?)
Crates are held together with plenty of staples, nails, and a generous helping of wood glue. Much like tires on a car, a crate is arguably the most important element of successful transportation.