When on 9 September 1971, John Lennon released the song, Imagine, there were no iPads, no cellphones, no co.za, no social networks, no personal computers (the IBM PC was introduced on 12 August 1981). The first 48 seconds of colour TV in South Africa was only broadcast on 5 January 1976 - we had no preceding B&W broadcasts.
My first desk top computer (circa 1984) was an Olivetti M21, weighing in at about fifteen kilograms, and measured 40 x 32 x 10 cm. It had 8MHz CPU and 640Kb of memory. The strange slots on the right hand side are floppy drives. The keyboard flips up to close the built-in 9" monitor, making this a ‘truly portable device’ - provided you have the muscle power!click to enlarge
Fast-forward to 1993, twenty-one years ago, there were still no iPads, no smart phones - there were in fact no cellphones, the web was virtually non-existent; email address were utilised only by a few; fax was the king of communications; there was no social media (it would be more than ten years before anyone ever heard the name Facebook). Conference registration was undertaken by using index cards. There were no laptops. Typewriters were standard.
1993 was also the year in which Complete Exhibitions was founded.
Could anyone imagine the impact that technology would potentially have over the next 21 years on the business of events.
June 4, 1992: registration of the first .co.za domain
June 1994: the first commercial cellphone calls made, (my first phone was an Ericsson GH197, later that year.
January 1997: MWeb founded
1995: Gallagher Convention Centre opened
August 8, 1997: Durban ICC opened
September 13, 2000: Sandton Convention Centre opened doors [Complete Exhibitions built the first exhibition alongside the first event hosted by the SCC, the national conference on racism.]
September 11, 2001: the website www.compex.co.za was registered
May 5, 2003: Linkedin launched
June 28, 2003: CTICC opened
February 4, 2004: Facebook launched
February 14, 2005: YouTube activated
March 21, 2006: Twitter launched
June 29, 2007: First iPhone
2009: WhatsApp founded
April 3, 2010: First iPad
2013: There are more cellphones in SA than people
It is perhaps not surprising that after twenty-one years, Complete Exhibitions has come of age and after an extensive review has rebranded itself as Compex®. Dean Gunningham, director of operations says; "We are so much more than just another exhibition shell system provider. After extensive investment over the last five years in stock, staff and training, the company is now well positioned to provide our clients and the industry with a fully holistic turn-key solution."
The company is firmly rooted in four core business spheres, namely Shell scheme, Custom and Design stands, Audio-visual, and Event Infrastructure. These are complimented with an extensive stock of furniture, in addition to provide exhibitors and event organisers with a wide range of electrical and other hire options. Compex® is structured like the fine mechanism of a watch, each business wheel links to another, finely tuned, each service cog is synchronised with the adjoining one.
The company is probably best known for the provision of shell scheme for exhibition stands, registration areas, poster walling and other conference and exhibition ('Confex') infrastructure. Indeed this is the service area in which the company has its deepest roots. Having worked extensively within the 'Confex' market, it was a natural extension of our service offering to provide an extensive audio-visual component, including lighting and staging.
An event is all about the experience, an engagement with all of our senses. There are many advantages to dealing with a single service provider who has a proven track-record, and can deliver a solutions service to the organiser of an event. Excelling as a service provider cannot be learnt from a book, it is accumulated from many years, working across a wide spectrum of event genres. The ability to seek inspired and different solutions is what makes experience the key differentiator between service providers.
What will the next ten years hold for us?
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one