(Pictured L-R: EDPA President Emeritus Gwen Hill, 2018 Hazel Hays award winner Amanda Helgemoe and former EDPA Executive Director Jeff Provost)
by Pat Friedlander
Amanda Helgemoe, recipient of EDPA’s 2018 Hazel Hays award, is a pioneer twice over. First, she launched a women-owned business, Nuvista, in the competitive I&D market, and secondly because the mission of her company was not simply excellent service, but also transparency within the labor segment. Either one of these achievements would have earned her a place in EDPA’s hierarchy of contributors to the industry, but both set her apart.
Amanda Helgemoe is the owner of Nuvista Event Management Services and serves as its CEO. Helgemoe came to the tradeshow and event industry in 1996 as the director of sales at Nth Degree from ‘96-97. From ‘97-99 she was vice president of sales and marketing at Eagle Management Group. During her tenure at Nth Degree and Eagle Management Group both companies experienced tremendous financial growth and consistently exceeded sales projections.
When she decided to build her own company in 2000, she understood that installation and dismantle is an important supplier segment in the face-to-face industry. Although other countries can boast large centers for fairs and expos, the installation and dismantle labor industry, as we know it, is distinctly American.
Entering this highly competitive field, Helgemoe was motivated to create a new type of company, a woman-owned business that would be a launch pad for new opportunities, opportunities directly resulting from the inefficiencies she observed.
Tradeshow exhibiting can be a company’s highest single-cost line item in their marketing budget, and exhibit marketers must prove the value of every dollar spent. When a significant chunk of exhibiting costs is eaten up by material handling, budgeting is almost impossible, since the rates aren’t published when the contract to exhibit is signed,” she explains. “And if the rates increase, the exhibitor is certainly not guaranteed more marketing value. For those reasons, exhibitors might reduce the size of booth space or decline to attend the show altogether. And when exhibitors reduce their participation, attendees have less to reason to attend the show, sending everything into a downward spiral.”
Tirelessly supporting exhibitor appointed contractors and exhibitors, Helgemoe remains on the forefront of the fight for transparency on the labor side of trade shows. Her ongoing advocacy for transparency is a critical component of her company’s brand promise. For years, she has worked with other industry leaders to collect independent research on material handling rates, and how exclusive vs. non-exclusive services show up on the exhibitor’s final invoice. She continues to challenge the status quo through speaking engagements at Industry meetings—HCEA, Exhibitor and EDPA ACCESS—and is committed to improving the existing tradeshow and event industry model.
Helgemoe is on the board of EDPA and serves as the events chair for the EDPA Foundation, running the silent auction at the EDPA ACCESS Gala. She served on the board of the now-defunct E2MA, where she was awarded the E2MA Intrepid Award for her work on the development of the Exhibit Industry Council, a nonprofit member association designed to define and advocate exhibitor-focused best practices. Her presentation, “The Myth of Union Busting” in which she explains the intricacies of tradeshow labor is a CTSM course at EXHIBITORLive. “Tradeshow managers are often confused about the roles unions play in show floor labor,” she says. “Our session provides insight from three different perspectives: EAC, exhibitor and a union rep. This is all in the interest of helping exhibitors manage their budgets.”
Within the past year, Helgemoe helped form the Advocacy Group, an ad hoc group whose members include corporate exhibitors, exhibitor appointed contractors, unions and general service contractors. The mission of the Advocacy Group is to ensure the successful future of face-to-face business events and promote transparent and reputable business practices, consistent standards, and new business models.
Amanda holds a BA in Marketing from Michigan State. “I never thought that my marketing degree would lead me to where I am today,” she says. “But I am extremely honored by the recognition from EDPA.”
Pat Friedlander is an accomplished marketer, published writer and speaker in the exhibit industry, particularly in the healthcare segment. She has developed programs; marketing strategies and campaigns, websites and social media tools; sales aids; product introductions; and branding/corporate identity initiatives for clients—many of them award-winning—over the past 25+ years. She has participated in many industry associations including TSEA, CEIR, EDPA, HCEA, E2MA, and BMA as a speaker and the author of content. She has received HCEA’s Distinguished Service Award as well as EDPA’s highest honor, The Hazel Hays award.
This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 68. Photo by
Padgett and Company. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust_2019_web