Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain — unless he's selling something you need.
To those who walk the trade show circuits, Purpose1 LLC is a name that means very little.
But to some state and federal agencies, regional manufacturers and service providers, as well as associations that count on display materials to showcase their products and spread a particular message, the Swatara Township-based visual marketing group is the vendor of choice.
Since 1986, Purpose1 employees have been working behind the scenes to design, sell and service exhibits and event displays. Today they average about 700 projects each year — ranging from small tabletop and banner displays to 600-square-foot floor showcases — that travel the state, the nation and even internationally.
"We are an extension of the marketing department for trade show properties," said Dan Liberatore, who took over the company with business partner Dorothy McDermott at the end of 2011.
Under their leadership, the company grew by double digits last year with nearly $1 million in revenue. It is poised to grow by a similar margin this year, Liberatore said. They also plan to move the company to Lemoyne in the coming weeks for more warehouse space and greater support of its growing logistics business.
Liberatore credits the company's success to its diverse mix of services and focus on core industries.
About one-third of its projects are for state and federal agencies. Among them is the state Department of Environmental Protection, which challenged the firm to create a large home exhibit for the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
That 20-foot-by-30-foot showcase was built to travel the state and raise awareness about sustainable products and energy resources in Pennsylvania. Purpose1 designed and built a model replica of an actual house that DEP can tailor to highlight new trends in energy efficiency or materials made in Pennsylvania.
"Over 1 million people have had an opportunity to see this display," said Dan Lapato, deputy director for DEP's Office of External Affairs.
The display travels to home shows, as well as agricultural and environmental events.
"Having that partner, not just a Pennsylvania company but one that is locally based, is a huge benefit," Lapato said.
Other clients such as Bob Saline of PRworks Inc. in Cumberland County and Lancaster County-based Donovan Advertising & Marketing Services said they have found Purpose1 to be very service-oriented and dependable when they need something for a client.
Donovan works with Furmano Foods, a food manufacturer from Northumberland County. Furmano's hired Purpose1 to create a national trade show booth.
"Nothing seems to faze them," Saline said. "I can call on them for simple stuff or the complex (projects)."
Purpose1 produces about 30 percent of the materials it sells, while turning to manufacturing partners to produce hardware and certain graphics.
"Our primary mission in 2014 is our logistics services," Liberatore said. "Our real objective is not to have one large centralized location but to replicate in other small and medium markets."
During the next five years, he is targeting other government hubs for support locations that could help meet regional demands more quickly.
More about Purpose1
• Owner Dan Liberatore received his bachelor’s degree in graphic design and communications from Millersville University. He started as an intern with the company in 1997. He was director of sales before he bought the company from founder Carlton Shank.
• Purpose1 has been on Sycamore Street in Swatara Township since 2001. The firm is moving to 309 S. 10th St. in Lemoyne.
• The company has a full-time staff of four people. That number is expected to grow in 2014 with the move and growth in logistics services.
• About 80 percent of Purpose1’s business comes from within 150 miles of the Harrisburg area. The company also does setup within that same radius, contracting with other partners for clients outside of that range.
• The firm also handles lobby and showroom displays — from counter items to corporate history walls. It worked on signage for displays at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Purpose1 is handling lobby signage for the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union’s new headquarters.
• The company designs about 40 percent of the displays it creates, relying on the client’s in-house team and other design partners for the bulk of the creative. The latter usually leads to other referral business, Liberatore said.