We travel to multiple trade shows every year, and the process is always about the same: hire a professional company to piece together a booth for us and manage all the logistics, hauling everything in, assembling, and hauling everything out when the show's over. For this year's Interbike show in Reno, we took a different approach. Instead of calling up a company, we called up some very talented friends in Colorado. Instead of renting the same stale white furniture, we made our own custom pieces out of cut stainless steel and reclaimed pallet wood once used to deliver bicycles and beer. By all accounts, it turned out to be the best booth we've ever had, thanks largely to the work of Jon at Metalhead Fabrication and those two very talented guys in Colorado who turned all those pallets into something special. Eric Hockman and Mauricio Natario designed and built the pieces, and we were so blown away by their finished product that we wanted to share their photos and the story behind the project. Eric and Mauricio both ride, and have both been in and around the cycling industry for a long time. The goal of the new booth was to create something that stood out, displayed our product well, and most importantly was reusable. They did all that and more. “Wood with soul," is how Eric described the plan, adding, "That’s what I told the crew at Stan’s about the wood that was used to build their Interbike booth this year." We talked with Eric about the process. With a vision to bring a more organic and inviting feel to the booth, we opted to build all of the pieces with as much pallet wood as possible. The cool thing about this pallet wood in particular is that it was sourced from a local bike shop located next door to a brewery. When I asked the owner of SloHi Bike & Coffee about the pallets he remarked that "they carried bikes for us and hops for the brewery.” It’s safe to say that these pallets were destined to live on in another life surrounded by bikes and beer loving cyclists alike. Like I said, wood with soul. Working with pallet wood is a challenge in and of itself. The skids are constructed out of hard wood and held together with nails that resist backing out, so while there are many methods of pulling them apart, each way presents different challenges in working with the stubborn material later on in the form of embedded nails or split ends. Once the wood began to pile up, there were still many steps remaining to get things looking respectable for a finished look. Mo scratched his head for a moment and came up with plans to build a wire brush tool to clean the surface of the wood and bring out the grain for a bit of uniformity. An old ski tuner myself, I felt like I was back in the shop cranking through rental skis again. With transport of the pieces and ease of assembling the booth at shows in mind, all of the larger structures in the booth were designed to fit together in only one way using keyed corners and without the need for more than a couple of basic hand tools. Relief panels were cut from the walls to aid in lowering the overall weight and recycled tow-strap handles were added to aid in moving pieces around. Cutting through nails and hardwood knots, we used the 2x4 oak pieces from the pallets to build butcher block counter tops throughout the booth. For the metal accents and custom Stan’s signs, we contracted the help of local metal guru and weld-master, Jon at Metalhead Fab. Keeping in line with the details that add a special feel, we had a custom rubber stamp made to provide an extra visual touch to the already well aged wood. After much sawdust, sweat, and a million and one trips to the hardware store, the booth began to take shape each day and was completed with just enough time to load up and head west to Reno. We packed the U-Haul, tossed in our mountain bikes (we couldn't resist a ride opportunity), and hit the road to Interbike. Upon setup, the booth went together just as planned with a few last minute details required to install lighting and electronics at the convention center. Stoked on the final outcome, we stepped back to admire the work we had put in to build a booth from wood that may have otherwise been tossed out. Once a tree, then bike and beer transporting pallets, and now a trade-show booth that displays industry leading wheels and tubeless sealant, this wood would have some stories to tell if wood could talk. Anyone interested in contacting Eric and Mo can reach them here:
Eric Hockman
email Eric
Instagram: @hockdub
Mauricio Natario
email Mo
Instagram: @aurisnow