Twenty-five years ago (1994), Amazon sold its first book and Yahoo! was the go-to search tool (Do you Yahoo!?). There was a Major League Baseball strike, and Prairie Display/Chicago was incorporated as a company.
So the year Forrest Gump and The Lion King came to movie theaters, Prairie launched into the trade show and event world. We started with a vision of providing the best portable/modular display products, services and large format graphics, used at trade shows and other face-to-face marketing events.
The same year the band Aerosmith gave away the first (for a major band) digital audio file to CompuServe subscribers, and Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, there was a new kid in town representing Nomadic Display, the premiere portable display at that time.
In 1994, a first class postage stamp was 29 cents, the television show Friends hit the airways, President Bill Clinton sent the first U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf region, and I took the leap from being a sales manager to business partner in this new venture.
Back then, we intently watched the “O.J. Trial” and listened to Nirvana on their CD Unplugged in New York. While we lost lead singer Kurt Cobain, not long after that, the world welcomed Justin Bieber. Starting from scratch, Prairie made our first sale and gained our first customers, some who still call Prairie their go-to source for display, exhibit and graphic needs.
And yes, there have been some bumps. There were three economic downturns, advances in technology, the influx of inexpensive products from China, and the pressure of making the right decisions for the business and our customers.
It has always been tempting to go after the new bright and shiny product, but I think Prairie has carefully vetted the brands and types of products we offer. We made a decision long ago to not be the ‘‘cheapest” on the market. Our products or services would have to be of high quality, supported after the sale and something we could add value to with our expertise and core competencies.
So with this in mind, as we approach our 25th anniversary, we decided to update our mission statement. Here it is:
"Our mission is to provide our customers with the highest value and support to maximize their face-to-face marketing programs. With a focus on ease of use, innovation, and industry expertise, we strive to develop long-term partnerships in a changing and evolving marketplace."
And here’s to another 25 years of more of the same! Taking care of you, the customer, our partner. Without you, we would not be here.
In 1994, our new president Bill Clinton delivered his first State of the Union address, calling for health care reform, a ban on assault weapons, and welfare reform. Some things never really change, even after 25 years.