A love of building models turns into a life’s work for Eric Colee.
By Rosalind Fournier
Eric Colee, president of Design Display, has always loved building things. As a child, he built models. As a teenager, he helped his uncle put together window displays in downtown Birmingham and later construct trade-show exhibits. That’s when Colee knew what he wanted to do with his life.
“I decided to open up my own business when I was 19,” he says, “and I’m still here.”
It was 37 years ago, and the business has evolved in every way—from the materials used to the graphics and technology available. Today, Design Display creates environmental graphics, trade show displays, and custom exhibits for museums and visitor centers across the country. Chances are you have seen their work, whether you knew it or not—at the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, perhaps, at a major industry trade show, or at one of many prominent sports facilities around the country.
“I love seeing something go from a drawing on a piece of paper to a built structure,” Colee says. “Then watching the client’s eyes light up when they see the finished project—that’s one of the most gratifying things. No matter how large or small the project, it’s still that same thrill.”∞
Located in Danville, Ala., the Jesse Owens Memorial Park Museum features a story gallery with giant panels drawing visitors into Owens’ life story; glass displays showcasing rare memorabilia; interactive kiosks, and more.
For the University of Mississippi Manning Performance Center, the company designed a hall of uniformed mannequins to represent the pro teams for which Ole Miss players have gone on to play. “When Ole Miss brings in an 18-year-old recruit, and he walks through and sees all the kids who graduated from there and were drafted into the NFL, that represents their dreams,” Colee says.
Design Display designed the visitor’s center for BUSH’s in Chestnut Hill, Tenn., where you’ll find a man-sized replica can of BUSH’s Baked Beans, made from an aluminum frame wrapped in 3M vinyl. Monitors placed inside show the canning process from start to finish.
To learn more, visit www.designdisplay.com