June 18, 2024 6:19 AM
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In Memoriam: Peter Nathan

Peter Nathan
March 31, 1933 – January 28, 2023

Peter W Nathan, a pioneer of the international tradeshow industry, passed away on January 28 at age 89. Born in Kassel, Germany, Nathan’s Jewish German family fled Nazi Germany for America in 1937. Graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in life sciences, he was briefly an office boy at Clapp & Poliak before serving in the Marine Corps as an officer during the Korean War.

Nathan served two years before leaving the Marines and returned to Clapp & Poliak where he would work 30 years and would rise to partner. It was at Clapp in 1971 that Nathan opened the first American industrial machinery show in the Soviet Union. He then managed the World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington, in 1974 and the US Bicentennial Exposition at Cape Canaveral in 1976. Six years later, Nathan would open the first two American consumer electronic shows in China.

He became a vice president at Reed Exhibitions when Clapp & Poliak was acquired by the company. He then worked as executive vice president at Expocon and senior manager at the Javitz Convention Center in New York before forming his own company, PWN Exhibitcon International, in 1996. It was then that he opened the first US government sanctioned tradeshows in Cuba: the US Healthcare Exhibition and the Food and Agribusiness Exposition in the years 2000 and 2002 respectively. 

Icon. Trailblazer. Giant. There are many words used to describe Peter W Nathan and his contribution to the tradeshow industry and international tradeshows in particular. A founding member of both the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and the Major American Trade Show Organizers (MATSO), Nathan served on the Board of Directors of those organizations as well as the International Association for Exhibition Management, now the International Association for Exhibitions and Events (IAEE). 

He has been awarded the King’s Glove Award by the New York Area Chapter of the IAEE, the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Hall of Leaders award, and the IAEE’s Pinnacle Award, some of the highest honors in the tradeshow industry. He is also remembered for an incredible legacy of mentorship and fostering of talent in an industry where connections really matter. His kindness and generosity is referred to over his great work accomplishments again and again in the various outpourings of respect and affection that have been made since his death. The industry will miss him, yet benefit from his service, for decades to come.

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