Mick Parrott received the industry’s top honor, the Hazel Hays award, during the President’s Gala at EDPA ACCESS 2016 in Orlando. The extent of Mick’s contributions to the exhibit industry is significant and far-ranging. Thirty years ago, in 1986, Mick Parrott, then CEO of ICON Exhibits, introduced ExZact, a revolutionary modular panel system. Ten years later, in 1996, he introduced ExpoDeck, the QuicDecx connector, and FlexRail which combined with ExZact to form the U.S. exhibit industry’s first fully integrated multi-level modular system.
Two years later, Mick, who had established ICON exhibits in the late 70s, formed a corporate new entity, Highmark Technologies (now Highmark TechSystems) to design, manufacture, and market these extruded aluminum modular products.
Fundamentally, he brought the concept of using aluminum extrusions into the US market with a made in the USA product. Systems such as the one he developed had been used for decades outside the US–recyclable, flexible, and adaptable to multiple configurations. Up until this point, the US exhibiting community thought of trade show exhibits as box frame construction with limited modularity, requiring warehouse storage, and ultimately disposed of in landfill. Mick’s design solutions gave rise to other domestic systems, and today aluminum extruded systems are among the first choice of designers. His deck system, Expo Deck, is the preferred decking of designers and I&D companies because its engineering is cost effective and the results are stunning.
The Hazel Hays award came at an important moment for Mick and Highmark TechSystems. Days before he received this recognition, two decades after he called upon the industry to “go up, not out” with ExpoDecks and ultimately an expanded offering of modular wall systems, Mick announced he had sold Highmark TechSystems to his daughter, Debbie Parrott, making Highmark a woman-owned company.
The goal of Highmark TechSystems has always been partnering — rather than competing — with exhibit designers and producers to create, build and market these specialized modular products for the industry at large. That he should be honored by the core membership of EDPA is the culmination of this goal.