A Lasting Impression

Art Guild
Written by Claire Suttles

From eye-catching trade show exhibits and retail displays to engaging museum exhibits, Art Guild, Inc. helps customers make a lasting impression. This New Jersey based business specializes in 3D, face-to-face marketing and educational programs of all kinds, offering a variety of different, but related services for top tier customers…
Art Guild designs and manages tradeshow programs; designs and builds lobbies, showrooms and visitor centers; creates and produces meetings and events; fabricates and installs museum exhibits; and designs and produces retail display and fixture programs.

Secrets to Success
“We build a lot of stuff,” President Doug Zegel jokes. “But that’s not what defines success. Success for us means understanding the customer’s objective and then finding a way to use the space, materials and budget available to us to create an experience that excites, teaches and ultimately drives the action the customer wants it to.” This could mean drumming up interest at a trade show, driving a purchase at a retail store, or teaching a museum visitor how electricity works. “It’s achieving that end goal that matters.”

Offering a full suite of services gives Art Guild a definite advantage. If a customer wants more than one service – a new lobby, a tradeshow, and a retail program, for example – the team can simplify that customer’s marketing supply chain significantly. “In short, customers can get from us what they may have needed five or more suppliers for in the past,” Doug Zegel explains. “This also brings cost efficiencies, speed and better consistency to a company’s brand message.”

Customers who are interested in just one service also benefit from Art Guild’s diversification. Having experience across multiple sectors gives Art Guild’s team a unique mix of skills and capabilities as well as in-depth knowledge of emerging trends in architecture, color and materials, décor, interactive technologies, multimedia, engineering, and production. Diversification also makes the company financially stronger and creates an extended network of supplier partners, ensuring a wider array of solutions to any issue.

Whatever the specific service, Art Guild is committed to “putting the customer’s business success before our own,” says Doug Zegel. “This is a long term approach to our own success that focuses us on the value of a long-term relationship, rather than on a short-term business win.” The strategy has paid off. With roots stretching all the way back to the 1920s, Art Guild has enjoyed consistent profitability and growth for decades – while many competitors were falling by the wayside. “A number of our competitors were bought, sold, or went out of business,” Doug recalls. In fact, of 11 major competitors operating in the same market space 20 years ago, only four remain today. “We have stood the test of time, in part because we have been able to change and evolve with customer needs.”

Indeed, Art Guild’s client retention rate has been outstanding throughout its long history. “We have a number of customers, including DuPont and Campbell’s Soup, who have been with us for over 50 years,” Doug shares. “And more than 20 more who have been with us for over 25 years. This kind of loyalty is rare in any business and we attribute this directly to our business philosophy which puts the customer’s success first.”

In order to best serve clients around the country, Art Guild has invested in four separate facilities, including one in Las Vegas, giving the company a presence on both the East and West Coast. Each location is specially designed with the latest in communication systems, design and production technologies, hardware and supporting software.

Diverse Projects
With such a wide array of services, the team’s recent and current projects are quite varied. In December, Art Guild’s Meetings + Events team helped produce the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Awards in Manhattan, which honored San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner and featured Magic Johnson and Bill Clinton. Art Guild created the structure and graphics needed to bring Sports Illustrated’s vision to life, from the red carpet and entry way to the photo op area and the cocktail party space. Global sports and entertainment marketer Octagon brought Art Guild into the project just weeks before the event took place – and the team’s last minute work was a huge success.

Art Guild’s Meetings + Events Division also recently took part in MasterCard’s “Priceless Cities” campaign, helping creating a memorable concert experience at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Justin Timberlake headlined the event and Art Guild was responsible for venue management, on-site execution, exhibit and graphic production. The team successfully created a bold, club-like atmosphere for this exciting project.

In a completely different job, Art Guild built an Extended Stay America hotel suite in their West Deptford, New Jersey shop for a three day photo shoot last year. The suite showcased the hotel’s fresh new look, which is being rolled out across the 700 location hotel chain. After Art Guild’s photo shoot, the hotel suite was dismantled and sent to New York for a video shoot starring chef Sunny Anderson to promote her “Away from Home Recipes,” which were developed specifically for Extended Stay America guests.

Art Guild has helped customers exhibit at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for years, and 2014 was no exception. Partners since 1995, the team took SEGA to the show once again – and drew huge crowds to see the gaming company’s newest releases. Art Guild has earned SEGA a number of Best in Shows in the past; this is particularly impressive since SEGA’s Expo budget is typically smaller than some of its big competitors, which includes industry giants such as Microsoft and Nintendo. With over 49,000 attendees and over 200 exhibitors at this year’s E3, Art Guild had to pull out all the stops to draw traffic to SEGA’s display. To capture attendees’ attention, the team created two completely separate, immersive environments in a single, 60’ x 100’ booth. One environment evoked an atmosphere of “constant dread and mortal danger” to promote Isolation, SEGA’s new deep space horror survival game. The other environment brought to life the sunny, tropical, and manic world of Sonic the Hedgehog to promote SEGA’s newest Sonic Boom title.

In yet another type of project, Art Guild was just awarded the role of prime contractor on the Louis Armstrong House Museum Education Center in Queens, New York. The project involves the creation of a new addition to the existing museum, which is located in the famous jazz musician’s longtime home. Art Guild has also been busy working on a Verizon exhibit that will be displayed at Superbowl XLIX.

Looking Ahead
Art Guild’s stellar reputation helps the company continue to bring in major projects – but it has also set an extremely high standard. “We used to be applauded for having the best design, but now that is an expectation,” Mr. Zegel explains. And many customers expect top notch work at increasingly lower costs. “No matter whom the customer is, everyone is looking for a greater return on their investment – whether that return is measured in sales, store or tradeshow traffic, brand awareness, or something else. Our challenge is to be consistently smarter than our competitors in finding new ways to help our customers get more value from their budgets.”

Because each project is unique, continually increasing the value we bring to our customers is an ongoing challenge. “We don’t have products in a box that we sell off the shelf,” Doug Zegel points out. “Everything is designed to the customer’s specific requirements. Fortunately, overcoming these kinds of challenges is exactly what Art Guild excels in – a fact that is proven by the company’s remarkable longevity. “It is a condition of our survival to both drive out cost and to improve the effectiveness of what we do for our customers’ everyday. The pressure is real; if we don’t, somebody else will.” The team has implemented a number of key strategies to achieve this goal, “from our state-of-the-art production facilities designed for speed and efficiencies, to our designers’ expertise in creating experiences that attract attention and engage audiences more effectively.”

Harnessing the latest and best technology is also essential. “The influence of technology has come to roost all around us. We cannot compete without it.” Long gone are the days of paper and pencil sketches or of fashioning products manually. “Our design is all virtual and our designers all design using amazing [computer] programs. Our production is also computer assisted, so the production machinery cuts all the parts that used to be done by hand here.” Art Guild also makes sure that clients can interact and manage their programs online, ensuring smooth communication and higher levels of satisfaction. “Our tradeshow clients can go online anytime 24/7 and look at their exhibit schedule, check their inventory, and see the status of all their projects.”

After decades in business, Art Guild’s future continues to hold promise. “There is a lot of opportunity out there,” Doug Zegel states. “I think that our clients – whether they have been with us 50 years or whether they are brand new – are all looking for new and innovative ways to communicate their brands and stories. Art Guild is perfectly poised to help them do that. The future is brighter than ever before.”



From Here to There

Read Our Current Issue


Peace of Mind

March 2024

Making the Smart Grid Smarter

February 2024

Inclusive Workplaces

December 2023

More Past Editions

Cover Story

Featured Articles