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The Midwest Chapter of the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association (EDPA), the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (MEEP) and the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association (ESCA) recently hosted an educational event called Behind the Scenes, which took place at Chicago’s McCormick Place.


The successful Behind the Scenes event was a coordinated effort by (from left to right): Dave Causton (MPEA), Chuck Grouzard (GES), Larry Arnaudet (ESCA), Cathy Kolf (EDPA), John Patronski (GES), Doug Van Ort (Freeman) and Michael Seymour (MEEP).

The efforts of these industry associations gave their members an exclusive, in-depth experience on the inner workings at one of the largest exhibit halls in the U.S. This event was held during the installation of the International Manufacturing Technology Show 2012 (IMTS), which is America’s largest manufacturing technology show.

“This was the perfect event to coordinate our efforts on,” said Cathy Kolf, president of the EDPA Midwest Chapter. “Every discipline and labor group worked together to make this show a success for exhibitors and enhance their experience here. Based on the positive comments from some IMTS clients, they look forward to returning in 2014.”

Behind the Scenes began with a speech from David Causton who is the general manager of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), a municipal corporation created by the Illinois General Assembly that owns and manages McCormick Place.

Causton articulated the positive changes that his team has made to the work rules that govern McCormick Place. These changes have resulted in the return of prominent tradeshows, as well as attracting events that have traditionally found a home outside of Chicago.

Most significantly, changes to enhance the exhibitors’ experience at McCormick Place have garnered Causton positive recognition from associations pursuing this Chicago destination for larger meetings. MPEA’s work with labor groups has lowered costs and made it easier for the representatives of exhibiting companies to merchandise their goods and services.

Working closely with local and state politicians to remedy existing legislation has produced positive results for exhibitors as well. The refinancing of current debt instruments has freed up cash flow for significant investments ranging from marketing programs to building improvements. All of these efforts are being done to make Chicago the premier destination for tradeshows and events.


Behind The Scenes offered an exclusive glimpse of the coordinated effort required to move in a show the size of IMTS.

For Behind the Scenes, prominent industry executives were on hand to provide additional details about the evolution at McCormick Place during a panel discussion and Q&A session.

Doug Van Ort, senior vice president for Freeman, provided valuable input on the positive changes in labor. Chuck Grouzard, senior vice president of national sales for Global Experience Specialists (GES), and John Patronski, executive vice president of industry development for GES, each emphasized the tremendous results of the joint effort between Freeman and GES, the two largest exhibition general contractors in the U.S.

After the panel discussion and Q&A session, attendees were treated to a truly, behind the scenes look at the move-in of one of the largest tradeshows in the U.S.

“Having the opportunity to witness tons and tons of machinery and exhibit materials moving so efficiently from dock to exhibit space is still amazing to me,” Julie McKernin, vice president of sales and marketing at Stevens Exhibits. “The coordinated efforts between the various labor groups is something rarely seen by exhibitors. There is tremendous value in this program!”

Behind The Scenes provided a tremendous learning opportunity to members of the EDPA Midwest Chapter, MEEP and ESCA. The event was an opportunity to view the coordinated efforts of so many and to witness the benefits to those exhibiting at McCormick Place.

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