by Jeanne Brei
More than 200 attendees converged on The Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, N.M., June 23-26 for the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association Summer Conference to learn the latest industry trends, network with peers, socialize and have an impact on the future of the exhibition industry. Attending were virtually every major segment of the industry, including general service contractors, specialty contractors, facilities, labor organizations, operations managers, sales and corporate executives.
Educational programming opened with a keynote by former Denver Bronco Karl Mecklenburg who rose from a college walk-on and 12th round draft pick to three Super Bowl and six Pro Bowl appearances. He played all seven defensive front positions, winning AFC Player of the Year and Linebacker of the Year among other awards. Speaking on the “Six Keys to Success,” his speech was an inspirational way to kick off the conference.
He was followed by a “State of the Industry” panel that included Rachel Kopczyk, David Audrain, CEO of ExpoDevCo/executive director of SISO, and David Dubois, CAE, CMP, FASAE, CTA, president and CEO, IAEE, speaking on new technologies, workforce development, safety and security enhancements and more. After a break to see exhibitors, Mark Herrera, director of education & life safety for the International Association of Venue Managers, spoke on “Emergency Preparedness.”
Tuesday’s seminars began with “Legal Updates in the Labor World” with Jon Massimino, assistant general counsel GES and Jim Varga, IATSE attorney, ret. They discussed voter eligibilty rules, successorship rules, harassment in the workplace, dispute resolution programs, the NLRB agenda for rule making and special remedies in ULP cases. Next up was a panel on “Young Professional Trends: Myth or Fact?” hosted by Ben Cramer (GES). On the panel were Nicole Blossey (Shepard), Ian Cox (Kentucky Venues), Evan Cox (Sellers Expositions) and Jenna Mazzurco (Freeman).
That was followed by a panel discussing “Independent Business Challenges and Opportunities in Today’s Business World” moderated by Mike Morrison of “The Don & Mike Show” and WS Displays. On the panel were Saira Beig of Stronco, Dustin Blaine of Blaine Event Services and Mark Staples of American Exposition Services, Inc. Next up was “Media Do’s and Don’ts—How to Make Media Work for You” with Lisa Aplinski of 3 Dog Write, Don Svehla of Exhibit City News and Gabrielle Weiss of Trade Show Executive, with moderator Mark Zimmerman (pictured left).
During educational breaks, attendees could check out the 16 exhibitors who had set up their booths in the next room, including Aluvision, BeMatrix USA, Boomer Commerce, Canwil Textiles, Inc., Conti-HTE, LLC, Convention Electric, Inc., The Don & Mike Show, EXPOCAD by A.C.T., Inc., Georgia Expo Manufacturing, Hawaii Expo, IPpay, MatrixSystems USA LLC, Milestone Trailer Leasing, Sommer Flooring Inc., Versatop Support Systems and WS Display. A highlight of the conference was when Mike Morrison and Mitt Arnaudet did a hip-hop rap for the WS Display five minute presentation and yes, 40 seconds of it was posted to the ESCA Facebook page on June 24 (all the other exhibitors just spoke about their company and products, including yours truly).
And last, but not least, there was fun! SMT Expo hosted ESCApades following the opening reception in the Living Room Bar on Sunday night. UPS Freight sponsored the UPS Freight Golf Tournament on Monday afternoon at Marty Sanchez Links while CORT sponsored a Taste of the Southwest Luncheon for the non-golfers that included tequila tasting and making guacamole. On Tuesday, Octanorm sponsored a fly fishing tournament while AFR Tradeshow Furnishings sponsored a white water rafting experience on the Rio Grande River. Finally, on Wednesday, Emerald Carpets, Inc. sponsored the first annual ESCA Challenge Golf Tournament at the Buffalo Thunder Golf Course. And each night, the attendees were treated to wonderful evening dinners and entertainment—from a mariachi band to Native American dancers to a country swing band and more. Awards for presented to those who fished, golfed or went rafting and attendees were able to both donate to and buy the Silent Auction items.
“One of the more underrated opportunities is the charitable aspect to our conference,” says Mark States, member of the ESCA board of directors. “The contributions and selfless acts from our members benefit each of us that attend. The Dennis Hale Memorial Scholarship Fund contributes thousands of dollars annually to our industry’s future; the education of our youth. These young adults continue to face rising costs and significant debt seeking a higher education. This is where ESCA and its members can assist.” ESCA members, both attending and non-attending, contributed to the SEC Silent Auction to benefit the Scholarship Fund and this year they were able to break the previous record that has stood since 2013 by $500.
ESCA’s Winter Conference will be in Las Vegas in December and next year’s Summer Conference will be held in Asheville, N.C. before it heads to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2021.
ESCA (Exhibition Services & Contractors Association) is dedicated to the advancement of the exhibition, meeting and special events industries. Through the education, information exchange and level of professionalism shared by members and their customers, ESCA promotes cooperation among all areas of the exhibition industry. Since 1970 ESCA has provided a unified voice for service contractors and their partners in the exhibition industry. ESCA now has more than 160 member companies throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico and maintains alliances with IAEE (International Association of Exhibitors and Events), TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association), and CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) to promote the exhibition industry. For more info, visit www.esca.org.
This story originally appeared in the September/October issue of Exhibit City News, pp. 66-67. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_septoct_2019_web