Infrastructure Week – Building America and Supporting the Skilled Trades

It is nice, encouraging, and inspiring when there are initiatives that receive broad-ranging support, and which are championed by Democrats, Independents, Republicans, liberals, and conservatives.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services gives a call out to one of those initiatives: Infrastructure Week – actually, more specifically, the 6th Annual Infrastructure Week – which is ongoing and upon us, with this year’s edition running from May 14-21.

Infrastructure Week is the baby and brainchild of the nonprofit organization of the same name.

Here is a descriptor of Infrastructure Week from the organization’s website:

“Infrastructure Week, a non-profit organization, convenes a national week of education and advocacy that brings together American businesses, workers, elected leaders, and everyday citizens around one message in 2018: Americans are waiting. The future won’t. It’s #TimeToBuild.  Each year during IWeek, leaders and citizens around America highlight the state of our nation’s infrastructure – roads, bridges, rail, ports, airports, water and sewer systems, the energy grid, telecoms, and more – and the projects, technologies, and policies necessary to make America competitive, prosperous, and safe.

“Our bipartisan Steering Committee and nearly 400 affiliates host events, drive media attention, and educate stakeholders and policymakers on the critical importance of infrastructure to America’s economic competitiveness, security, job creation, and in the daily lives of every American. As a business, union, non-profit, government, or an individual who depends on infrastructure, you have an important story to tell. Find a way to participate and tell your fellow citizens and policymakers: We’re tired of waiting. It’s Time to Build.”

And here is some language taken from the FAQ section of the Infrastructure Week website: “Infrastructure Week is non-partisan, is not affiliated with any political candidate, and does not take a position on any legislation or elections.”

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.  Fundamental and integral to our success is our deep reserve of highly skilled tradespeople.  And, of course, we find tremendous merit in infrastructure-based development and construction, for it puts skilled tradespeople to work.

It is important to remember that while, in the U.S., the history of infrastructure building and maintenance and renovation is largely and vastly one of publicly financed projects, there have also been many infrastructure projects financed through public-private partnerships, also called P3s or PPPs.

Actually, P3s are more popular as a financing mechanism in other countries than they are in the U.S., with the main reason being that America, as is the case with only a few nations worldwide, exempts the interest earned on local and state bonds from the taxes that Uncle Sam assesses.  The U.S. bond market, as a result, is bigger and more advanced than in other countries, making exclusive public financing of infrastructure attractive.

Yet, states and the federal government are looking for new streams of financing, and there are more and more P3 projects in the U.S.

An example of a successful P3 is Florida’s I-595 Corridor Roadway Improvement Project a partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the private concessionaire I-595 Express, LLC.   The project, approved in 2008, and commenced in 2009, involves design, building, financing, operation, and maintenance over a 35-year term – and to date has been coming in on time and on budget.

Smart, innovative, and strategic infrastructure investment is necessary for the overall strength of America.

Infrastructure Week advances a good and noble cause.




A Story of Labor, Industry, Exhibition, Logistics – and Beauty and Excellence and Efficiency in Design – all Told in the Face of a Sunflower

(This post was updated on February 21, 2018)

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.

We work from coast to coast, and operate offices in major cities across the U.S.

Fundamental to our culture and the way we do is business is to strive to– and here we enlist the words of            Vince Lombardi – “do things right … all the time.”   We always try to do our best for our clients and customers – and we seek to be cooperative and valuable teammates with our business partners and suppliers.

We care about and are dedicated to developing our employees, our most valuable resource, and providing them with the support and training necessary to achieve optimally.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services believes that throughout an organization, a passion for one’s work, and commitment to doing that work supremely well, is fundamental to the success of the organization.

We believe that a company can do well by doing good – that a company should give to the community, and that it should consider itself and act as a custodian of the natural environment.

In that Willwork is in the exhibition and events and show business, we believe that we should be about promoting beauty and excellence and efficiency in design and production.

We are about admiring and exalting top performance and meeting exacting standards.

To that end, we commend here the header photo of this blog post.   Denise Franzen, Administrative Director for Willwork, used her mobile phone to take the photo on a warm afternoon in early October.  The photo is of the face of one sunflower among a long row of sunflowers that were in bloom in front of the Willwork headquarters.

Every year, from late spring through early fall, there is that row of blooming sunflowers at Willwork.

Helianthus is the scientific name for the sunflower, derived from the Greek helios, for sun, and anthos, for flower.

Busy is the face of this sunflower pictured here.

Three different insects – bumblebee (bombus), ladybug (coccinellid), and painted lady (Vanessa cardui) – are dining at and on the flower; they are consuming its nectar and pollen.

Planted as seeds in early April, the sunflowers grow fully by mid summer, and range in height from around five feet to a little more than nine feet.

The sunflowers are part of an extensive and vast selection of flowers, shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses, and vegetable plants that wring and ornament the grounds of the Willwork corporate offices. Our property is a gardening showcase – carefully and creatively planned, designed, and constructed.

“We choose plants and arrange them in a way that the landscape is attractive and draws positive attention throughout the four seasons,” said Laurie Johnson, Director of Grounds and Maintenance for Willwork. “Willwork puts a lot into the gardening and landscaping, and we are gratified to receive many compliments.”

Laurie handles and plans the arrangement, planting, cultivation, and caretaking of plants outside and inside Willwork.  Laurie also picks the ripe produce which is given to Willwork employees and those who visit the company.

Gardening and growing and harvesting are all part of a Willwork commitment to sustainability.

“Willwork management believes in sustainability – and in taking care of and managing the land we own,” said David King, General Manager for Willwork.  “This belief, and this mindset, is behind the gardening and landscaping here – and also other initiatives, like the solar panel field on the top of our headquarters, which provides a considerable amount of the energy that the building uses.

“Conserving energy, and using energy more efficiently, and practicing sustainability, is in keeping with what we strive to do for our clients: deliver increased value and cost savings.”

Sustainability and Efficiency in Design and Function

Remarkable – the sunflower … the face of that sunflower.

Talk about industry and natural synergy, and brilliant design and structure. It is all here.

Actually the inner disc of the face of the sunflower is a composition of many flowers, or florets, each with its own source of nectar and pollen. Beneath the florets is the seed head, formed from spirals of seeds, which are also the fruit of the plant.   For the bumblebee, painted lady, ladybug, and other insects, sunflowers offer a motherlode of nourishment – plenty of nectar, plenty of pollen.

In New England, there are also bats and birds who eat pollen; as well, there are a few birds in this region who consume plant nectar.

In making available a landing place and food feast for insects, the sunflower supports pollination, and repels deer and other herbivores that eat flowers and leaves, both processes that are necessary for seed plants to reproduce and continue their species.

Of course, the sunflower is an effective marketer and advertiser of its fare, with its showy and large and bright external ray petals inviting and beckoning dining patrons.

Bumblebees, painted ladies, and ladybugs are all pollinators; they do the work of pollination – transferring pollen, produced in the anther, the male part of the plant, to the stigma, the female part of the plant.

This transfer occurs as a bumblebee, or painted lady, or a ladybug moves from flower to flower, with pollen becoming attached to the bodies of the insects and spread along the journey.

Not just insects, but any animal that eats pollen – for example those bats and birds – are pollinators.

Of the three types of insects on the face of this sunflower, the bumblebee is the king pollinator, but ladybugs and painted lady butterflies do good pollination work as well.

The Remarkable and Versatile and Useful Sunflower

 “Sunflowers are like people to me.”


Helianthus has a trove of uses – beyond as a source of pollen and nectar. 

Sunflower seeds– raw, roasted, plain, and salted are a popular food for humans. Sunflower seeds are also a favorite food of birds.

Sunflower seeds can also be ground into a butter, or used to make bread. Oil extracted from seeds is used as a cooking oil and refined into biodiesel fuel.

Sunflower leaves are used in cattle feed, as is the “cake” that remains when oil is removed from the seeds.

Fiber from the stem of the sunflower is used to manufacture a high-quality paper.

Seed Patterns in the Sun Flower – the Perfect Math of the Fibonacci Numbers Sequence; the Golden Angle

“The Fibonacci Sequence turns out to be the key to understanding how nature designs… and is… a part of the same ubiquitous music of the spheres that builds harmony into atoms, molecules, crystals, shells, suns and galaxies and makes the Universe sing.” 


A considerable aspect of Willwork’s success and the value and advantages we provide our clients relies on a variety of precise arithmetic. Precise measurement, precise estimates, precise timing, and precise angles.

A fraction-of-an-inch less than precise can result in a failed job.

Sunflowers represent precise and beautiful and consistent arithmetic that is hardwired and programmed into their system. Like many other organisms, sunflowers enlist what is called the Fibonacci numbers sequence to optimize growing and reproduction.

Fibonacci numbers were identified and introduced by the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci who lived approximately from 1175 to 1250.

In the Fibonacci numbers sequence, every number after the first two is the sum of the preceding two numbers; hence – 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89 ….

Again, beneath the florets on the face of the sunflower is the seed head, with the seeds arranged in a series of spirals that originate at the center of the sunflower face.  Each successive spiral curves in the opposite direction of the spiral that precedes it – alternating between clockwise and counterclockwise.

In most sunflower heads, there are a total of 34 spirals that curve in one direction, and 55 spirals in the other, with 34 and 55 being adjacent in the Fibonacci sequence.

Other sunflowers have higher, respective, Fibonacci spiral counts, such as 89 and 144, numbers also adjacent in the Fibonacci sequence.

Yet no matter the total alternating spiral counts, starting with the third spiral, the seed count in the spiral is equivalent to the total number of seeds in the preceding two spirals: a Fibonacci sequence.

Now, for sure, and since nature isn’t perfect, the Fibonacci sequence is not always present and exactly realized in the sunflower seed arrangement, but it is fairly routine; it is the modus operandi of the sunflower.

And across the natural world, the Fibonacci sequence is evident – as described in the following excerpt from an article on the Fibonacci sequence in nature, written by Robert Lamb, and published at the HowStuffWorks website:

” …  Some plants express the Fibonacci sequence in their growth points, the places where tree branches form or split. One trunk grows until it produces a branch, resulting in two growth points. The main trunk then produces another branch, resulting in three growth points. Then the trunk and the first branch produce two more growth points, bringing the total to five. This pattern continues, following the Fibonacci numbers. Additionally, if you count the number of petals on a flower, you’ll often find the total to be one of the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. For example, lilies and have three petals, buttercups and wild roses have five, delphiniums have eight petals and so on.”

And more math – and more precision.

As more seeds are produced and the spirals arch further away from the center of the face of the sunflower, each seed migrates away, and stays fixed at an angle of 137.5 degrees from the seed that had preceded it in the flower’s seed production.  Mathematicians and scientists refer to this angle as the “golden angle”.

The golden angle, as does the Fibonacci sequence, affords and supports the best opportunity for the sunflower to successfully grow and reproduce.

Where there is a Fibonacci sequence there is a golden angle.


Bumblebees are All-Star Pollinators – But So-So Honey Makers  

“I felt the richer for this experience. It taught me that even the insects in my path are not loafers, but have their special errands. Not merely and vaguely in this world, but in this hour, each is about its business.”

HENRY DAVID THOREAU, on observing the conduct of bees

About those bumblebees.

Bumblebees don’t produce honey … well, not real honey.  The reason for this is that, unlike honey-making honeybees, entire hives of bumblebees do not survive cold winters in temperate climates, and therefore don’t need to make use of that nutrient-dense food.

Actually, to be precise, it is the male bumblebees who do not survive the winter. Females, aka queen bees, mate in the fall, and as it begins to get cold, enter diapause – a resting phase, usually spent underground, for the entire winter.

Queen bumblebees prepare for diapause by eating ravenously to build fat stores, with pollen and nectar the primary food.  Nectar that queen bumblebees consume, they process into a honey-like substance – think honey light – which it saves in honey pots made of wax that they secrete from their abdomens.  Queen bees will feed on this processed nectar, and it will also feed the nectar, along with pollen, to the queen’s offspring.

Male bumblebees only consume nectar, and only to feed themselves.

When spring arrives, queen bees lay eggs that had been fertilized prior to winter – and the nest and colony begins anew. Queen bees will continue to lay eggs throughout the spring and into the summer.

In service of collecting pollen, a fascinating characteristic and trait of the bumblebee is that they have the ability to detect and analyze electric fields on a flower, which tells them whether that flower has been visited recently.  Understanding whether a plant has already been tapped of its pollen, allows bumblebees to conserve energy by passing on a pollen-depleted plant and moving to a more bountiful pollen reserve.

Bumblebees are nature’s all-stars in pollen transfer. A bumblebee’s hairy body alone works wonderfully in collecting a dusting of pollen which is then transferred to other flowers as the bee makes its rounds.  As well, and here electricity plays another role, when bumblebees approach a flower, they rapidly flap their wings, with this activity building up an electrical charge that helps anchor pollen to the hairs on its body.

Female bumblebees also groom pollen into pollen baskets that are attached to their hind legs, with these baskets containing as many as a million grains of pollen.

Yes, as Henry David Thoreau observed, bees have “special errands” and “each is about its business.”

The Painted Lady, a Pollinator, and a Sometime Migrator

“We are all butterflies.  Earth is our chrysalis.”   


The painted lady is one of the most common varieties of butterfly and is found on every continent except for Antarctica and Australia.

This butterfly, which flies in a peculiar screw-shape pattern, is sometimes called the cosmopolitan because, within a region, it shows up just about everywhere: woods, fields, sandy areas, swamps, and vacant lots … you name it.

It is valuable pollinator in that the species will feed on up to 100 different types of plants.

Their appearance in northern areas of the Western Hemisphere, including outside the Willwork corporate headquarters, is irregular. They may show up these parts some years, and not in others.

The total lifespan and growth phase of the painted lady runs from 45 to 60 days, and is comprised of four main stages:

  1. The egg is laid, and within three to five days it hatches.
  2. Once hatched, the larvae or caterpillar stage begins which is completed in five to 10 days.
  3. Next up is the chrysalis or metamorphosis phase, of seven to 10 days, in which the caterpillar spins a silk pad from which it hangs, and while suspended its skin splits from head to toe, revealing a hard case called the chrysalis or pupa. Within the chrysalis, the organism becomes totally liquid and forms into a butterfly, with the butterfly emerging from the pupa.
  4. The Painted ladies live for about two to four weeks.  During their short life, they focus on mating and reproducing.

A lineage of painted ladies may include eight generations in a year.

These generations are not only produced across time – but oftentimes vast space.

You see, a curious characteristic of the painted lady is that it is a migratory creature, yet unlike some other types of butterflies … most famously the monarch butterfly … its migration practice is not consistent from generation to generation.

That’s right, depending on a variety of elements not totally understood, a family line of painted ladies living, for example, in the Western Hemisphere may make a complete round-trip migration between the ancestral winter habitat of the species – which is northern Mexico – and the northern reaches of the United States and parts of Canada, toward which painted ladies travel in the spring.

Or painted ladies may may complete a large segment, but not the entire migratory path – or maybe a small segment; or maybe next to no migratory journey.

And there are episodes of mass migrations of the painted ladies – with clusters of millions of butterflies leaving northern Mexico, with this multi-generational migration continuing northward, and continuing with clusters comprised of millions of butterflies, until reaching their historic northernmost destination, in late spring or early summer.

Along the way, new generations come and go, and the migration continues … with one butterfly, over one short life, able to cover 1000 miles or more. Painted ladies fly at an elevation of only six to 12 feet off the ground, and at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.  A painted lady butterfly can travel 100 miles in a day.

As autumn arrives, painted ladies living in the northern climes will begin the migration south.

As for the painted lady in this photograph, for all we know it has just about run its course on earth, or it is a newly minted butterfly who is about to up and leave and will be in Connecticut in 24 hours.

Pitching in and Helping Out – the Ladybug  

“A small speckled visitor
“Wearing a crimson cape
“Brighter than a cherry
“Smaller than a grape
“A polka-dotted someone
“Walking on my wall
“A black-hooded lady
“In a scarlet shawl.”


And there is the ladybug, which is actually a beetle. A little background on the name ladybug. It has a religious origin – from Europe and the Middle Ages when the continent was beset with insect crop pests.

As legend has it, Christians offered prayers to Mary, Our Lady, and soon came the arrival of a cloud of these tiny bugs colored red and each with seven black spots (coccinellids in other parts of the world have different numbers of spots).

What was interpreted is that the bugs, as they commenced to devouring the pests, which were probably aphids, had descended from Heaven.

Then there are the coloring and markings of the bug; they were interpreted as a sign, as during this period artists often depicted Mary wearing a red robe, and the seven black spots were thought to represent the Seven Joys and Seven Sorrows of Mary.

People variously called the beetle “Our Lady’s Bug” or “lady beetle” or “lady bird” … or ladybug.

Through the centuries, ladybugs have been admired for their beauty and form, and have been painted, drawn, sketched, photographed … and represented through many other art forms.

Ladybugs are certainly a gardener’s friend.  They voraciously feed on aphids, mites, mealy bugs, scale insects, and other destructive nuisances.  A ladybug can consume 50 aphids in a day.

The livelihood of the ladybug pays off and is a plus in the form of a pollinator, an exterminator, and as a source of beauty and artistic inspiration.

As the Short and Cold Days are Upon Us

During winter, the gardens and grounds at Willwork are not as colorful as during spring and summer, and early fall; but even in the coldest stretch of the year, our property has plenty of beautiful evergreen trees and ornamental grasses for decoration (with these grasses also producing seeds on which birds feed).

Plants are in a dormancy period now. Female bumblebees, and ladybugs of both sexes, are finding covered and secluded places to winter, with ladybugs favoring the indoors of houses if they can gain entry.

Painted lady butterflies have flown away.

And the cycle continues – and again in the summer the sunflowers will grow and establish seed spirals with Fibonacci counts and with seeds spaced at golden angles, and the bumblebee, the painted lady, and the ladybug will return to their eating and their industry.



















In praise of persistence

(image credit: Truly Happy Life)

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.   The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”



Willwork is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.  In 2017, we are celebrating 30 years in business.

Harriet Tubman. persistent, courageous (image credit: artist Horatio Seymour Squyer

A quality that we, as a company, esteem and admire highly in people, and in organizations, is that of persistence.    Of staying after something, of facing and surmounting obstacles, of falling down and getting up — of not quitting.

Fundamental to the success of Willwork is that we have been, and are, persistent.

Especially in the early days of Willwork, as we sought to establish ourselves, to sell ourselves — to grow and move beyond being solely a company that provided exhibit installation & dismantle services in the Boston area — we heard a lot of “nos” and knew a lot of rejection and being put off.

And this was all understandable.  Sure, we were doing a great job in Boston.  We were building our reservoir of positive testimonials and good will.  But there were many companies out there against which we competed which had been around for a lot longer than we had, which were far more established, and which did very good work.

If we weren’t persistent, if we did not pursue a game plan of smart and strategic growth, we wouldn’t have nearly approached the success and achievement we have known.

It is worthwhile, it is valuable … and inspiring … to take a look at examples of extraordinary and exceptional persistence.   To that end, today, in this space, we are doing just that.


We need to start out with a hall of famer in persistence – and also in courage and dignity.

The hall of famer?  That would be Harriet Tubman — the “Moses of Her People.”

Born into slavery in Maryland, probably in the year 1822, Harriet Tubman became one of the most successful “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, the secret route of roads and paths and safe houses that slaves, sometimes with the help of abolitionists, used to escape from slave states and make their way to freedom in states in the North, and Canada.

While an enslaved field hand, Tubman endured horrific abuse, including repeated beatings.  In 1849, she escaped to Philadelphia, and to freedom, leaving behind her husband and family.  But Harriet Tubman was not content to secure freedom for herself – no, no, no – for she felt and observed a calling, one to which she responded … time after time … and one that would … time after time … place her life at risk.

As explained at, “Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and hundreds of other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy and nurse during the Civil War.”

It seems that Harriet Tubman is now the frontrunner emerging in discussions in Washington, D.C., as to who will be selected as the first woman to become the “face” on a paper bill of American currency.  Proposed, with strong backing, is that Tubman replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, with Jackson represented on the back of the bill.

Please click here to be taken to the full biography of Harriet Tubman at


Thomas Alva Edison ranks at the top of the list of the most successful and brilliant inventors, and successful industrialists, in history.  He is also the poster child for persistence.

Thomas Alva Edison (image credit: Louis Bachrach, Bachrach Studios; restored by Michel Vuijlsteke)

Nicknamed the “Wizard of Menlo Park” – with Menlo Park, NJ the site of Edison’s home and research lab – Edison’s toil and intelligence, and way of looking at the world, resulted in 1,093 U.S. patents alone, not including those he held other countries.

Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Edison in which is described his enduring influence:

“More significant than the number of Edison’s patents was the widespread impact of his inventions: electric light, power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures all established major new industries worldwide. Edison’s inventions contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.   His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator.   Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world.”

This influence did not come easy – not at all.  Edison failed over and over.  Then, again, maybe not.

Edison famously reflected:  “I have not failed.  I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Alva Edison, also noted, just as famously:  “Genius is one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration.”


J.K. Rowling (image credit: Scholastic, Barnes & Noble)

J.K. Rowling is an all-star in persistence.  Consider the following entry on Rowling which is found at the website Being Encouraged.

“J.K. Rowling- The famous Harry Potter author became a single-mother after enduring a failed marriage and also losing her mother. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and reportedly contemplated suicide. Before finishing the first book of the Harry Potter series, she was barely surviving on welfare. After she finished the book, she submitted to twelve different publishing houses but was rejected by all of them. It wasn’t until a year later when a small London-based publishing company gave her a chance that she became the author we’ve come to revere.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997.  It would be the first in a series of six Harry Potter books that would all become mega worldwide bestsellers.”

The Wikipedia entry on the series provides the following data on the success of the Hatter Potter series:

“As of May 2013, the books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history, and have been translated into seventy-three languages.   The last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, with the final installment selling roughly eleven million copies in the United States within twenty-four hours of its release. “

Of course, beyond the books, Harry Potter has become a powerhouse entertainment franchise, encompassing films, games, theme parks, and the stage.

J.K. Rowling continues to write, and continues to create brilliant and bestselling art.


Following redshirting the 1993 season, Kurt Warner was a backup quarterback for the next three seasons at the University of Northern Iowa, an NCAA 1-AA school located in Cedar Falls.   He got his chance to start as a senior, and he made good – leading the Panthers to an 8-3 record and a playoff berth.  He was named the Gateway Offensive Conference Player of the Year.

Undrafted, he had a tryout with the Green Bay Packers, and was cut.   Warner returned to Cedar Falls where he stocked shelves in a grocery store for $5.50 an hour, and was an assistant coach with the Northern Iowa football team.

He didn’t give up on his dream.

Sports Illustrated cover featuring Kurt Warner in 2000 Super Bowl (image credit: Sports Illustrated)

Warner received an opportunity to play in the Arena Football League, and he lit it up, putting up huge numbers, and becoming one of the league’s premier players.   His play caught the attention of the St. Louis Rams, which signed him to a contract for the 1997 season.  St. Louis held his rights when he spent the 1998 season in NFL Europe where he led the league in passing.

Warner was the third-string quarterback for the Rams for the 1998 season.  During the 1999 preseason, Warner was second on the depth chart to starter Trent Green.  When Green tore his ACL in preseason, Warner became the Rams starter.

The 1999-2000 campaign saw Kurt Warner and the Rams conduct a clinic, setting a slew of offensive records, and finishing the season with Super Bowl victory, beating the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  Warner was named MVP of the game.

Over the next nine season, Warner continued as one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks.  He started in two more Super Bowls, with both those starts for teams that lost the game narrowly.

Warner’s holds many NFL passing records.  During his NFL career, he was named All Pro four times.

Kurt Warner was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 2017.


Wiillwork hopes you have enjoyed this treatise on, and ode to, persistence.

Willwork will always be a company that faithfully practices this virtue

And we recognize, beyond the importance of persistence in being successful in the exhibitions services and event project management industry, its importance in achieving and accomplishing in all areas of life.

For we believe, as President Coolidge so accurately and correctly reflected, that, “The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”


The World’s Columbian Exposition – Aka the Chicago World’s Fair, the Chicago Columbian Exposition, and the White City

 Here is the second installment in a series of posts on world’s fairs and world’s expositions that will run periodically on Insights. The first installment, published here on October 4, featured the Great Exhibition of the Works of All Nations, or The Great Exhibition, which took place in London in 1851.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.

We operate offices in major cities across the country, and work in those cities, and other metropolises, as well as towns, villages, and hamlets – anywhere premium exhibition services and event project management are needed.

As we have described and presented in this space, Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services – by virtue of the business we are in, and the skills, talents, and focus of our people – admires and is a fan of beautiful and ingenious architecture and design.

We are enthusiasts of the exceptional in building and space planning.

Indeed, and of this we are ever mindful, the place called North Easton Village – contained within the incorporated town of Easton, MA, the community in metropolitan Boston where Willwork’s headquarters are located – holds a trove of architecture and design that rivals any place of comparable geographic size in America.

Please click here to be taken to a Willwork Insights post, published on June 12, 2014, which discusses the works, found in North Easton Village, of Gilded Age luminaries Henry Hobson (H.H.) Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted – aka F.L. Olmsted and F.L.O., Augustus Saint-GaudensStanford White, and John La Farge.

Not mentioned in that post is a beautiful plate of decorative glass designed by another iconic Gilded Age artisan, the painter and glassmaker, Louis Comfort Tiffany. This glass is set above a sandstone fireplace designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens that is within the Ames Gate Lodge, one of the H.H. Richardson buildings in North Easton Village.

In mid-December of last year, Willwork held its year-end management meeting in North Easton Village, in a grand stone cottage called Queset House, built in 1854 from a design that was provided by Andrew Jackson Downing (1815-1852), a pioneer in American landscape architecture and an author, botanist, and building architect.

Mr. Downing greatly influenced Frederick Law Olmsted, widely hailed as “The Father of American Landscape Architecture,” and a planner of the Queset House grounds.

From Queset House one can see Ames Free Library and Oakes Ames Memorial Hall, both designed by H.H. Richardson with landscapes designed by F.L.O.

As an exhibition services and event project management company – and one that is a fan and enthusiast of architecture, design, and building and space planning – it is wholly appropriate and fitting we discuss and talk about exhibitions and expositions.

In this post, we take a look at a magnificent and extraordinary exposition, one with which Willwork shares a cosmic and cultural connection.

We are talking about an exposition for the ages, one that was realized through an epic marriage and cooperation of money, politics, industry, brilliant architects and designers and artisans, detailed and precise and excellent planning and logistics, legions of skilled laborers and tradespeople – and the ambition and ascendance of a republic.

We refer to the World’s Columbian Exposition, a world’s fair in held in Chicago in 1893.

Actually, World’s Columbian Exposition was the short-form of the official name for the event: World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition.

Other names by which the exposition is known are The Chicago World’s Fair, Chicago Columbian Exposition and, for reasons explained and expounded on further down … The White City.

The Chicago World’s Fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus, and Europe, discovering the New World.

Dedication of exposition took place on October 21, 1892, but the fairgrounds did not open to the public until May 1, 1893, and would run until October 30 of that year.

Other world’s fairs had been held in the U.S. prior to the World’s Columbian Exposition, but the event and production in Chicago in 1893 was much larger and much more involved in scope than those which had preceded it.

It was a transcendent episode in American history.

Over its six-month run, the Chicago World’s Fair registered 27 million visits.

It was a world’s fair that was fully representative of, and which fully exemplified, the Gilded Age – an era which ran from approximately from 1870 through 1900, and was one of dramatic and tremendous industrial and financial growth and wealth building in America.

It was an age, this Gilded Age, during which America expanded global reach and influence.

The World’s Columbian Exposition was worthy of and capably responded to a nation whose cities were growing rapidly and explosively in population, development, and commerce; one in which growing fast and powerfully were the number of people who had the means to enjoy entertainment and amusements; and one that was establishing its own forms and styles of art, architecture, design, and decoration.

A fitting event and spectacle for the Gilded Age and America was the World Columbian Exposition of 1893.

As well, the World’s Columbian Exposition testified to all that, 22 years after the Great Chicago Fire, the city was rebuilt and healthy and rehabilitated.

Covering almost 700 acres, and including 200 buildings, the exposition’s exhibits showcased emerging technology, anthropology, art, culture, zoology, horticulture, religion, guns and artillery … and more.

Exhibitors participated from 60 countries.

Modern urban planning was ushered in with the program and system that brought about the world’s Fair.


During the 1880s, Chicago had been in competition with New York City, St. Louis, and Washington D.C., to host the Columbian Exposition.

When the host city was named, in 1890, the Chicago board organizing the fair chose, for the designing of the event’s buildings and facades, the team of John Wellborn Root and Daniel Burnham, famous building architects and partners in the Chicago firm, Burnham and Root.

Messrs. Root and Burnham resolved that the style of the structures of exposition would be French neoclassical – and would include buildings of extraordinary size and majesty.

In 1891, when Mr. Root, 41, died from pneumonia, Mr. Burnham became Director of Works for the fair.

Daniel Burnham may have found himself in over his head, but he quickly took charge, and did so effectively and brilliantly.

To be the creative and project general for the planning of the grounds of the exposition, the organizing board chose landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, already iconic and the biggest name in landscape architecture in America.

Mr. Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, the lead architects for the exposition, worked together.

In planning the landscape of the fair, Mr. Olmsted had two primary lieutenants: Harry Codman, an architect in the firm that Mr. Olmsted founded in Brookline, MA, which was the first full-time landscape architectural firm in the U.S.; and Calvert Vaux, an Englishman with whom Olmsted had already famously collaborated on projects, the best known of which and a signature for U.S. urban parkland design: Central Park in New York City.

Now, for that cosmic and cultural connection Willwork feels with the World’s Columbian Exposition – it is staked to the business of expositions and the expanse of F.L.O.- designed property near our corporate offices.

There are other connections, but let’s stay here with Frederick Law Olmsted.

At the time he took on the Columbian Exposition project, Mr. Olmsted’s resume of high-profile landscape design achievement included, in addition to Central Park, the Emerald Necklace in Boston, the campus of Stanford University, portions of the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, and George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.

As well, on F.L.O’s resume was extensive work in North Easton: The Memorial Cairn, a Civil War memorial known popularly as The Rockery; the grounds of Ames Free Library and neighboring Queset House; and the landscapes of three Ames family estates: Governor Oliver Ames EstateLangwater, and Sheep Pasture.

For the grounds for the exposition, Mr. Olmsted selected an area of land called Jackson Park, formerly called South Park, which had been renamed in 1881 for Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. F.L.O. was well acquainted with the park, for he and Calvert Vaux designed it some 20 years before.

While under the direction of Mr. Olmsted and Mr. Vaux, areas of Jackson Park had been cultivated and represented a beautiful harmony between nature and man’s design, there was still large areas of swamp, not the easiest grounds with which to contend.

What Olmsted planned for the swamp, and which would be realized, and which would work in visual and functional tandem with adjacent Lake Michigan, was a seascape with a grand central basin, and smaller pools, and also canals. Raised above these waterways would be terraces.

Frederick Law Olmsted, who had already made history, continued to do with with World’s Columbian Exposition.

“Not nearly and widely appreciated is the work that Frederick Law Olmsted did in Chicago – it is a best kept secret,” said Julia Bachrach, Planning Supervisor with the Chicago Park District, in a recent phone conversation with Willwork. “Large areas of parkland that Olmsted designed, and which were constructed in Chicago, were successful tests and important developments in the public park movement in America – and remain beautiful places for recreation and for social and education programs.”

Frederick Law Olmsted, Daniel Burnham, Harry Codman, Calvet Vaux were giant talents in a vast team of giant talent. And the designation “team” is apt, for these creative minds worked cooperatively and in unison.

Three of those minds created and developed artistic treasures in North Easton Village.

There was Augustus Saint-Gaudens, named Creative Director for the fair. His creative direction included designing the official exposition medal.

Louis Comfort Tiffany designed a chapel, breathtaking in beauty, that was on display within the exhibit of Tiffany & Co., the jewelry firm founded by his father Charles Lewis Tiffany. Designed and crafted in Byzantine style, the chapel was held in awe by expo attendees, with its intricate constitution of multicolored reflective glass, ornately carved pillars and arches, a baptismal font, and electric chandelier.

Mr. Tiffany, already well known for his work, would see his star rise fast and higher as a direct result of his chapel at the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Stanford White, and his business partners, Charles McKim and William Mead, designed the Agricultural Building, one of the main buildings of the fair.

Looking west – Court of Honor and Grand Basin, World's Columbian Exposition; in foreground, The Republic statue; at other end of basin is The Administration Building

Looking west – Court of Honor and Grand Basin, World’s Columbian Exposition; in foreground, The Republic statue; at other end of basin is The Administration Building

The central concourse of the exposition was the Court of Honor, unto itself a mini and majestic metropolis formed of Olmsted’s basin – called the Grand Basin – flanked by neoclassical buildings all painted with a white chalky plaster, and at night bathed in incandescent electric light.

A White City.

That incandescent electric light, that electricity, that illuminated the White City, resulted from a battle of iconic and giant American companies and technologies: General Electric (recently formed with the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson Houston-Electric), and its direct current, versus Westinghouse Electric, and its alternating current.

Westinghouse’s bid to power the Chicago World’s Fair proposed 93,000 incandescent lamps was 70 cents per lamp lower than what Edison bid.

Westinghouse won the business, but its bid was so low that throughout the run of the exposition it was running in place (and bleeding money) to replace and maintain bulbs and other equipment.

At one end of the Court of Honor was the 65-foot high plaster statue, The Republic, created by Daniel Chester French, the man whose long career included designing, for the 1875 centennial commemoration of the Battle of Concord, the Minute Man statue at the North Bridge in Concord, MA; and, from 1915 through 1919 designing and overseeing the sculpting of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

On the other end of the Court of Honor was the domed Administration Building, the plans for which were developed by Richard Morris Hunt, who, at the time of the planning the exposition was arguably the most prominent and accomplished architect on the Columbian Exposition design team.

Other structural architects who designed buildings for the fair were some of the most eminent of the period, and remain so in posterity: Dankmar AdlerCharles B. AtwoodHenry Ives CobbSolon Spencer BemanSophia Hayden BennettWilliam MundieRobert Swain PeabodyGeorge P. PostLouis Sullivan, and Henry Van Brunt.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, in talking with Daniel Burnham, put in perspective the assembly of talent planning and designing the exposition, when he compared it to the group that planned and created the buildings, paintings, and sculptures of Florence during the Renaissance.

Mr. Saint-Gaudens said to Mr. Burnham, “Look here, old fellow, do you realize that this is the greatest meeting of artists since the 15th century?”

So much, so many aspects, of the World’s Columbian Exposition were awesome concepts rendered on awesome scale.

Willwork Inc. Exhibit & Event Specialists enthusiastically salutes an epic achievement.

Consider just one aspect of logistics. Exhibits shipped in to the exposition came in the form of almost 163,000 packages, which were transported using almost 8,000 vehicles.

There was entertainment, and also carnival rides, among them the original Ferris Wheel, designed and engineered by George Washington Ferris Gate Jr. It was a giant wheel – 264 feet high, with 36 cars, each which could hold 40 people.

It was a big tradeshow, the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Innovation and invention were on display at the fair.

Consider that all amusements, with the towering Ferris Wheel the anchor, were located on the one-mile long Midway Plaisance section of the exposition. This layout marked the first time that a world’s fair had separate areas for exhibits and amusements.

Also for the first time, a world’s fair would have national pavilions. Forty-six countries operated pavilions in which, among other uses, were forums in which to make trade and tourism pitches.

Following is an excerpt from a article, by Barbara Maranzani, titled, “7 Things You May Not Know About the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair”:

Among the well-loved commercial products that made their debut at the Chicago World’s Fair were Cream of Wheat, Juicy Fruit gum and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Technological products that would soon find their way into homes nationwide, such as the dishwasher and fluorescent light bulbs, had early prototype versions on display in Chicago as well.

Please click here to be taken to the full article, which was published on March 1, 2013.

The first public moving walkway – called the Great Wharf or Moving Sidewalk – ran on electricity and in a loop along the bank of Lake Michigan. People could either walk or sit as they transported.


In 2004, the name White City, and the Chicago World’s Fair, would be popularly reintroduced to America when Erik Larson’s book, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, was published. It became a #1 bestseller.

H.H. Holmes –

H.H. Holmes – “The Devil in the White City”

The Devil in the White City tells the story of the exposition, its two primary architects, Burnham and Olmsted, and Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who lived in Chicago, and who was particularly busy in his gruesome enterprise during the fair – with the fair providing for him cover … and victims.

The man who would become H.H. Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett in Vermont in 1861.  Mr. Mudgett would graduate from the University of Michigan’s Department of Medicine and Surgery in 1884.

It was in 1886, just prior to moving to Chicago, and in an attempt to avoid being caught for any number of crimes he committed, that Herman Webster Mudgett became Henry Howard “H.H.” Holmes.

In Chicago, Dr. H.H. Holmes found work as a pharmacist at Elizabeth S. Holton’s drugstore.  He eventually bought the store from Ms. Holton, whom, curiously, after her sale to Mr. Holmes, disappeared.  When people asked as Elizabeth Holton’s whereabouts, Mr. Holmes said she had moved to California to be near her family.

Shortly before the start of the Columbian Exposition, Dr. Holmes purchased an empty lot across the street from the drugstore.  On the lot he built a massive three-story house that took up a city block, and which locals called “The Castle.”  On the first floor of the building he operated and owned a drugstore at which he worked as a pharmacist.  Other businesses were located on this floor as well.

Areas of the second and third floors, and the basement, were used for other pursuits, and were designed and built to accommodate them.  These pursuits were torture, killing, dismemberment, dissection, and destruction of evidence.

On the upper two floors, design features included rooms with no windows, some of which were equipped with gas jets to asphyxiate victims; trapdoors; stairways and halls with dead ends; peepholes; and chutes down which bodies could be slid into the basement.

As for the basement, that is where a dissecting table and furnace were located.  Some bodies Dr. Holmes stripped of tissue and flesh – which was incinerated in the furnace or chemically destroyed; what remained, skeletons, he sold to medical schools.

How Mr. Holmes managed to have The Castle constructed without its purpose being discovered is that he allowed no carpenters or tradespeople to work long on the project before firing them.

H.H. Holmes has been called “America’s First Serial Killer.”  If not the nation’s first serial killer, he surely was one of the most prolific.  He primarily … but not exclusively … murdered young women.  Prior to the start of the world’s fair, he found an abundant source of victims among those employed in his pharmacy.

While the Columbian Exposition was open – and his gruesome crimes not yet discovered – Dr. Holmes ran within The Castle into an enterprise in high demand in the vicinity of an international event that tens of millions would attend: a hotel.

For many, the hotel would be one in which check-in was permanent.

With the fair ongoing, victims unknowingly arrived at their doom and a house of horrors.  Within The Castle, H.H. Holmes murdered at a feverish pace.

A serial perpetrator of many crimes, H.H. Holmes got out of Chicago before the diabolical work within The Castle was discovered.  He traveled across the U.S. and Canada and continued to kill.

It was in 1894, when authorities were pursuing him in connection with the death a criminal associate of his, and the disappearance of the associate’s three children (whose remains were later found), that Chicago police entered The Castle and uncovered ample evidence, including human remains, of Dr. Holmes’s killing enterprise.

Dr. Holmes was arrested and tried and convicted for killing his crime partner.  He was sentenced to death.  While awaiting execution he confessed to 30 murders; it was a confession, the specifics of which – if not the numbers of victims – were dubious, in that some of the people he said he killed were in fact still alive.

It will never be known the extent of H.H. Holmes’s killing.  Some estimate he murdered as many as 200.   His murder count just in the The Castle – later dubbed “The Murder Castle” – alone was probably at least 20 people.

Erik Larson’s thoroughly engaging and gripping, The Devil in the White City, is necessarily, at times, unsettling and disturbing – the horror from which we cannot look away.

Yet The Devil in the White City is also masterful in describing the monumental achievement and monstrous beauty of the World’s Columbian Exposition, and its lasting and positive influence of America, as evidenced in this excerpt from the book:

If evenings at the fair were seductive, the nights were ravishing. The lamps that laced every building and walkway produced the most elaborate demonstration of electric illumination ever attempted and the first large-scale test of alternating current. The fair alone consumed three times as much electricity as the entire city of Chicago. These were important engineering milestones, but what visitors adored was the sheer beauty of seeing so many lights ignited in one place, at one time. Every building, including the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, was outlined in white bulbs. Giant searchlights – the largest ever made and said to be visible sixty miles away – had been mounted on the Manufactures’ roof and swept the grounds and surrounding neighborhoods. Large colored bulbs lit the hundred-foot plumes of water that burst from the MacMonnies Fountain.

This vision compelled wonder – it compelled awe.

As did so much else of the fair.

The World’s Columbian Exposition, with great energy, and immense majesty, upheld and continued the exuberance and statement America was making on the cusp of the 20th century.

Over the next decade, America would host world’s fairs in Atlanta, Nashville, Omaha, Buffalo, and St. Louis.

Each exposition and each fair was a societal exercise in trumpeting and showing off – and also that of a relatively new nation asserting and feeling good about itself.


The planned extraordinary and magnificent closing celebration for the Columbian Exposition did not take place.

On October 28, two days before the final day of the fair, Carter Harrison Sr., who had served four terms as mayor of Chicago, from 1879 to 1887, and just been elected to his fifth term as mayor of the city, was assassinated in his home by Patrick Eugene Prendergast.

Mr. Prendergast was an emotionally disturbed man who had supported Mayor-elect Prendergast in his campaign, motivated by the delusion that in return he would receive a job in the mayor’s administration.  When Mr. Prendergast did not receive a job offer, he sought revenge.

With the assassination of Mayor Harrison – much beloved and a major supporter of the Columbian Exposition – the closing ceremony for the fair was canceled.  In its place a large memorial service was held to honor and mourn the mayor.


While buildings constructed for the World’s Columbian Exposition were supposed to be temporary, their demise was hastened, following the closing of the expo, by a series of three fires in 1894 that destroyed almost all of the fair’s buildings.

Of the original Columbian Exposition buildings only two remain and can be visited today: the Palace of Fine Arts, which now houses Museum of Science and Industry, and the World’s Congress Auxiliary Building, which today is the home of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Frederick Law Olmsted’s influence on the Jackson Park area, and on Chicago, is enduring, as described in the following excerpt from a page at the Chicago Park District website:

In 1895, Olmsted’s firm, then known as Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot, began transforming the [site of the Columbian exposition] back into parkland. Remaining true to the park’s original plan, the re-design included an interconnected system of serene lagoons with lushly planted shores, islands, and peninsulas. A magnificent promenade, now part of Lake Shore Drive, provided broad views of Lake Michigan. In contrast to the sublime views  of the water, the plan also incorporated an elongated meadow for lawn tennis and a larger playing field. In 1899, the South Park Commission used the long meadow as the site for the first public golf course in the Midwest, and the following year the playing field was adapted for use as an 18-hole course that still exists today.


Next in this series: the Pan-American Exposition, the world’s fair held in Buffalo in 1901.

Get shipping right the first time [Video]

When things don’t go as planned, an event can face multiple issues.

We’re here to help you avoid that problem. One of the major considerations in planning your event can be figuring out whether you should ship to an advanced warehouse or directly to the show site. There are pros and cons to both that need to be weighed in advance. 

If the timing of receipt of your properties at your booth is critical, you may want to choose to send them to the advanced warehouse.  You will pay a bit more, but will be assured that your properties are at your booth at the earliest possible time. Work with your event company to figure out which method of drayage is right for you, your schedule and your budget.

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Labor follows industry trends [Video]

Labor is the less-talked about, but wholly essential part of managing an exhibition. As new trends, like experiential events, shape the future of the industry, labor should be a forethought.

Exhibitions and events are often under tight deadlines for installation and dismantle processes. Workers need to be able to quickly build and take apart highly technical displays. Hiring a couple of people to do the heavy lifting just won’t cut it anymore.

The installation and dismantle process is becoming streamlined in this day and age, and companies that can’t complete it quickly may not do as well as their competitors. Skimping on more qualified workers in exchange for someone who can only hammer in a nail may be providing a problem for the exhibition – not a solution.

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The growing importance of labor for event organizing

Though society is inching closer to being driven by technology, the exhibition and event industry will be firmly rooted in its founded values for years to come. When it comes to building and dismantling a show, skilled labor is an essential part of the process.

The industry at a glance
Shortly after the economic recession in 2008, the exhibition and event industry picked up where it left off. In fact, according to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the sector has been growing moderately since as early as 2009.

As recently as 2015, the installation and dismantle industry has grown steadily at 3 percent. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • The growing number of startups and “unicorns” that require showcasing.
  • Experiential marketing rising as a viable option to garner millennials’ attendance.
  • Expanding opportunities overseas.

The IAEE argued that because the industry is so closely tied to the health of the U.S. and other nations’ GDP, the next few years will be tumultuous both for events companies and clients. Will the health of the economy continue, or will anticipated rising federal interest rates cap it at a certain growth rate? How will changes in the stock market affect the industry?

One aspect of the exhibition and event industry remains static, though. The necessity for event labor will not change, but the need for skilled labor will only increase as events come to require accurate precision and complex decision-making during the I&D process.

What skilled labor can offer
Once an afterthought, skilled labor has risen to the forefront of the industry. With such narrow deadlines and no room for error, companies simply can’t afford to hand out contracts to companies that don’t place a high importance on skilled team members.

Exhibition and event organizations that place a premium on labor by cultivating it internally through training programs and industry-driven universities will have their efforts rewarded as the market grows stronger.

“Skilled labor will become more valuable as the industry changes.”

Lah-Cal, a corporate event management company, recently predicted on LinkedIn that, with the upcoming trend of experiential trade shows and events, as well as the anticipated benefits of virtual and augmented reality, locations for events will change. Normally done in a conference or event venue, future events will require larger, more unique venues that coincide with the theme. This means that the amount of preparation, wiring and execution will ramp up, and only the most skilled teams in the industry will be able to keep up with the change.

A more competitive market for venues will be the norm very soon as well, according to Lah-Cal. As the amount of events grows, hotels and other venues will begin to charge a premium to host because of how booked they are. This directly impacts event organizers, as the I&D team they contract will have to be able to set up and dismantle quicker than past years.

All signs point to the market putting a premium on skilled labor, rather than just finding some people who can put together a few wooden planks. Carefully consider your contracting decisions moving forward, as speed, efficiency and expertise will all play a bigger role than they have in the past.