4th Generation Exhibit Company


Clients who work with Stevens Exhibits/Displays Inc. might notice a common name among key staff members: Founder Tom McKernin, President Chuck McKernin, Executive Vice President Julie McKernin, and Executive Vice President/Creative Enthusiast Lisa McKernin.
Stevens Exhibits inhabits one city block with a 100,000-square-foot state of the art facility in Chicago near McCormick Place.
We are confident you will appreciate our one-on-one approach to solving your problems and meeting your objectives. Our goal is to stand alone as our industry's undeniable leader. At Stevens Exhibits... you're not just a number, you're a success story waiting for our guidance!
 
This is actually the 4th Generation in the exhibit business. Their grandfather, the late John McKernin was affiliated with their great uncle Joe McKenna in Advertisers Displays, Inc., at the time of the Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition. Joe sold the business at the start of World War II. Tom McKernin began building exhibits when he was 15 years old. In 1966 he was offered a partnership at a POP house, Stevens Displays and was soon joined by his brothers, who have since retired. Together, they turned the business into the full service exhibit success it is today, changing the name to Stevens Exhibits/Displays Inc.
When we were kids we loved coming down to the shop. It was the best place to play hide and seek, there was always cool stuff being built. Things like a giant working coffee pot, furniture that rose out of the carpet and a huge Willy Wonka Oompa machine that had lights, sounds and a big breathing balloon with polka dots. The best part was if you pulled down one of the 4 hands, you'd get FREE CANDY!!!
We used to take turns going on installations with dad. It was especially fun when they were in another city. The boys worked on the docks when they were younger. I remember they laughed and joked around a lot and I'm sure they have some stories that aren't suitable for print.
 
Before joining the family business, Lisa worked, for 13 years, as an exhibit designer for both Field Museum in Chicago and Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. She was also a scenic painter and sculptor. Julie was employed as a runway/print/tradeshow model, demonstrator, and manager of professional television wrestling. Chuck joined the company full time straight out if high school and ran the graphic production department.
Tom says of the three children who run the compnay, "They are naturals at the business and I could not be a prouder father. They work so well together, and they really understand the business. They understand and respect each other enough to handle the ups and downs of the exhibit industry."
Other family members play an active role in the business as well. Tom’s youngest son, Brian McKernin, works in traffic and the warehouse, Tom's sister Edie in accounting and grandsons Jeff McKernin and Jason Sawatski are both carpenters in the shop and in the field. Show time is the most fun and the whole family shows up to personally service our clients.