As co-owner and chief marketing and strategy officer of a trade show marketing company, Heidi Clear (BBA ’90) is familiar with creating solutions for clients. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, she has had to help her company forge an unexpected new path.
Heidi and her husband, Steve, own CenterPoint Marketing in the Twin Cities. CenterPoint designs and builds custom exhibits for trade shows and events. It’s a full-service national company that goes beyond the physical product of the exhibit to include logistics and marketing strategy.
Prior to buying the company in 2018, Heidi had worked in financial services marketing, but she and her husband wanted to buy a company with a tangible product. A marketing and finance major at WSB, Heidi also worked in brand marketing at General Mills and in consulting.
An entrepreneurial class in college planted the seed for Heidi to own a business one day, she says, and credits her WSB education for helping to prepare her to pivot her business in 2020.
“It helped build my strong work ethic and resilience—which I’ve used a lot lately,” she says.
As 2020 began, it was shaping up to be a good year for CenterPoint. One client, Sleep Number, won an award for Best Exhibit at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The trade publication Exhibitor Magazine named CenterPoint one of its Top 40 companies, Top 8 in customer service.
But with no trade shows or events during the pandemic of 2020, their business model was suddenly turned upside down.
CenterPoint shifted some of its work to make and market protective barriers and gained airports, banks, dentists, and corporate offices as customers. CenterPoint also licensed the design of the University of Minnesota COVID19 testing booth that medical professionals could use.
“We’re coming up with other ideas,” Heidi says. “We have to work differently, and that’s pretty exciting.”