ExhibitGroup Buys Giltspur

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Two of the largest and fiercest competitors in the trade show design and fabrication business have combined forces.

Roselle, Ill.-based Exhibitgroup's purchase of Itasca, Ill., Giltspur recently gained Federal Trade Commission approval. Each enjoyed annual revenue of about $130 million prior to the acquisition, making the merged company the largest in the $3.9 billion exhibition design and fabrication industry, officials said. Terms were not disclosed.

The new company, Exhibitgroup Giltspur, will serve some 4,000 clients from 14 design and fabrication locations. Its headquarters has not been determined yet. Slack Myers & Barshinger, Chicago, is agency of record.

"Until recently, most of the companies in this industry have been privately held, with a few exceptions," said Jane Lorimer, managing director of Denver-based Lorimer Consulting Group, which specializes in trade show marketing strategies.

The Giltspur acquisition expands Exhibitgroup's network of offices worldwide and will provide clients with cost savings in exhibit manufacturing and marketing, said James McGrath, Exhibitgroup VP-sales and marketing.

Charles Corsentino, Exhibitgroup president, retains that title at the merged group.

Exhibitor reaction was mixed. "I don't know how much size you need to offer full-service capabilities," said Tom Grossman, group manager-exhibits and special events with Unisys Corp.

"I would have some concern about remaining an important client," he said. "Would I be lost inside a multimillion-dollar corporation as opposed to being one of the more significant clients in a smaller shop?"

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