A co-owner of Las Vegas, Nevada’s Steelhead Productions, Rhiannon Andersen saw just how hard the tradeshow industry was hit by the Great Recession. Her purchase of Steelhead came just two years prior to the recession hitting the world, and during its time, she worked diligently to build on the business her father started.
Steelhead withstood the Great Recession, unlike many other companies in the United States. Steelhead not only survived, but it grew thanks to Andersen’s guidance. Andersen has seen Steelhead grow an amazing 630 percent since she tookover the comapny in 2006.
Her business is thriving and works with major companies from around the world to build custom tradeshow exhibits. From Samsung to Ed Hardy, Steelhead has worked with an illustrious list of top-end clients for major events.
Andersen took time out of her busy schedule to sit down and speak to Totalprestige Magazine about her career and the work Steelhead Productions does.
Rhiannon, you have been a co-owner of Steelhead Productions for over 12 years. Tell us about Steelhead productions and how you started the business?
I am a second generation business owner. My father founded Steelhead Productions in 1996. His objective was to build a lifestyle business which he did quite successfully. When my business partner Sean Combs and I bought the Company in 2006, we decided to focus on growth and expansion. And, despite the major pains associated with the great recession we did. Since we’ve taken over operations and ownership, we’ve grown the business by 630 percent. We’re really proud.
Steelhead Productions was selected by Inc. 5000 as one of the Fastest Growing Companies in America. How have you achieved such success in the business arena?
We take a lot of pride in being an award-winning company. Each award that we’ve received along our journey has brought different forms of joy. The Inc. 5000 award is surely the most notable.
How has the company’s location in Las Vegas helped with its success in the exhibit design and building industry?
Las Vegas is the trade show capital of the world, so having headquarters there adds a lot of financial value for our clients. And, maybe even better, we are right around the corner if they need anything.
Steelhead has an amazing portfolio of clients and designs. What has it been like to build the company from the bottom up into what it is today?
Our clients have many choices with whom to partner with when it comes to exhibit and booth design and execution. So, being trusted by the notable brands is a huge honor.
In addition to being the co-owner of Steelhead Productions, you are the chapter president of the Entrepreneur’s Organization. Personally, how important is it to have such an important role?
The entrepreneurial journey is really unique, brings many challenges which the best education can’t prepare you for, and can, at times, be lonely. The Entrepreneur’s Organization has been monumental in connecting me to a group of peers who share their journey — successes and failures — from which I can learn from. The Entrepreneur’s Organization has added tremendous value to my professional and personal life. Being the chapter President is sheerly my way of giving back some of what I’ve received.
What are some of the challenges with owning a business in the exhibit industry?
Creating alignment. There are lots of moving parts in the event industry and ensuring that everyone on the team has everything they need to execute at the highest level is tough. Worth the energy of course, but not always easy.
How long does a custom exhibit set or design take to complete for a tradeshow?
The timelines vary based on the size of the project. Ideally, we’d like to get connected with our clients six to eight months before a show.
Rhiannon, during your time as a Steelhead owner, you guided the company through the worst recession of modern time. Since then, the company has grown over 630 percent. How difficult was keeping the company going at the time and how bad did the recession hit your industry?
The years 2008, 2009, and 2010 we’re extremely difficult for the tradeshow industry and for us as well. Marketing budgets tend to be the first to get cut when companies hit hard times. Despite the rough times, we always felt confident that, as a custom rental provider, we had a great solution for companies who needed to make the most out of their resources. Personally, I learned a ton about personal and professional perseverance. For as many lessons learned, it’s time I’d rather not visit again.
Steelhead is based in Las Vegas, a mecca of tradeshows, but do you expect to expand the company’s reach to other areas of the United States?
Steelhead has the capabilities to support exhibit needs nationally and internationally through a great network of partners. For now, from a marketing perspective, we are working diligently to be known as the go-to provider in Las Vegas.
Can you tell us about some of the high-profile clients you have worked with and your favorite design exhibit Steelhead has produced?
We’ve worked with Samsung, Adobe, Case Construction, Ed Hardy, and many more. Honestly, I don’t have a ‘favorite’ per se because most of the environments we design have some feature that I find pretty cool.
What’s next for Steelhead?
We believe that renting your tradeshow exhibit booth is absolutely the best choice. In the past, we’ve been slightly hesitant to shout it from the rooftops because custom builds were a major base of our business. Moving forward, we want to loudly and proudly share our philosophy that rental provides the best value, most flexibility, is equally creative, and exponentially better for our environment.
Rhiannon, what is a day in your life like?
Busy! And, very intentionally. I love living fully and having an abundant life. I recognize that I only get one shot at this life and I want to make the most out of it. Between owning a business, being on the Entrepreneur’s Organization board, having an 18 and three-year-old and love to learn and travel, I am always on the go.
What makes you smile?
My kids Kylar and Rose. They are amazingly smart and make me laugh daily. I am ridiculously thankful to be their mom.
What scares you?
Having to work for someone else.
Rhiannon, do you have any hobbies?
Cooking and working out. Thankfully, I love both equally and do them daily.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
I admire the successful rule breakers, the ones who throughout time have proven you can be successful while being yourself!
Can you share a favorite quotes with us?
”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
I would irradicate child abuse. My heart aches thinking of any child suffering in that way.
For more information on Rhiannon Andersen and Steelhead Productions, please visit https://www.steelheadproductions.com/.