John Lamb remembers well one of the biggest challenges in his career at Display Group in Detroit, where he has worked since 1992. He and his team were facing the tightest deadline yet requested of the company, which does everything from building set designs to renting props to creating three-dimensional scenery.
“HBO Sports Boxing was hosting a premiere in Detroit on the greatest boxing matches ever. We were asked the day of the premiere to create a boxing ring photo presentation area, load it, deliver it and install it,” Lamb recalls. They had four-andone-half hours total.
“So, we created an environment like as if you were in a boxing ring and gave it a press-conference-for-a-boxing-match kind of feel,” Lamb says. The results? The display champions’ creation was a huge success.
Lamb, who grew up in Grosse Pointe and lives there today, was the first employee of Display Group, which is housed in the historic Packard Building 22. The company’s story began the day Lamb met Rick Portwood when the two were students at Northwood University in Midland and became fast pals.
After Portwood graduated, he asked Lamb what his plans were following his graduation. Lamb was not particularly interested in going into the automotive arena like many of the graduates from Northwood at that time. Portwood shared that after working for his family in their display company, he was going to launch Display Group and hoped that Lamb would work with him.
Fast forward more than a quarter century, and today Lamb’s been involved in everything from designing retail stores to creating an oversized bobblehead of Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera, now on display at Comerica Park.
“Technically, I’m the vice president,” Lamb says with a laugh. “But I wear many hats— sales, design, creative if need be, helping with installation …”
When not working, Lamb enjoys playing tennis. This summer, he’s knee-deep in Ford Arts Beats & Eats, the Detroit Jazz Fest and other happenings. No doubt, whatever he and the team work on, it’s a knockout. Just like that boxing arena challenge way back when.