- The Washington Times - Friday, May 28, 2004

Hargrove Inc. employees worked into the nightto get the last of the 2,000 signs up around the new World War II Memorial for today’s dedication.

The Lanham special event services company sent about 10 of its 200 employees and hired an additional 40 temporary workers to set up the signs on and around the $174 million memorial.

The signs will direct an expected 200,000 veterans, family members and visitors at the 2 p.m. dedication to bathrooms, seating, transportation modes and the media center among other things.

Hargrove, a company known for its decorations in presidential inaugurations since 1949, also set up the decor and stage backdrops for a reception yesterday evening for the memorial’s major donors at the ballroom of the Washington Convention Center.

Chief Executive Officer Tim McGill said the company had been getting last-minute changes and orders up until last night.

“We really have to be done before Saturday,” because of increased security at the memorial site, he said at the company’s headquarters Thursday where about 20 people were furiously finishing the last few signs.

The signs for the memorial were grouped on the trucks in the order they were to be set up so that workers could expedite the operation.

Hargrove President Earl C. Hargrove Jr., who helped found the company with his father in 1946, said the dedication’s setup follows a line of memorial dedications the company has prepared, including ones for the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

“It’s always a great thing to be a part of,” Mr. Hargrove said.

But the company isn’t relaxing after this contract. About 40 Hargrove employees and 100 local workers are already in Sea Island, Ga., setting up temporary carpets, stages and their backdrops and a media center with 700 filing stations for the Group of Eight Summit meeting that starts June 8.

The company also covered the G-8 Summit meetings for President Reagan in 1983 and President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

Mr. McGill said he expected sales to pick up as the company entered its busiest season in the summer.

“We are seeing the special event industry pick up and it’s much needed,” after industry spending dropped following the September 11 terrorist attacks and the 2001 recession.

The majority of Hargrove’s revenues, which were not disclosed, come from trade associations, political parties and committees, major corporations and federal agencies. Hargrove’s contracts range from $5,000 to millions of dollars.

“We cover about five to six events a week all over the country and at least 1,000 events in a year,” Mr. McGill said.

Some of the more prestigious jobs include taking care of most of the settings for the presidential inaugurations and decorating the national Christmas tree next to the White House.

The company has even worked occasionally with Hollywood, providing an inaugural set for two episodes of NBC’s “The West Wing” and making “South Park” character statues for Comedy Central.

The most stressful part of the job is making sure the details are in order, Mr. McGill said. “People don’t realize that you have to have everything perfect the first time and make the deadline because there is no second chance in our business,” he said.

About 70 percent of the contracts for signs are done at the last minute because clients usually send the final information closer to their event.

“But we were ready for that; it’s the nature of this business,” Mr. Hargrove said.

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