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In the blink of an eye

I’m on my way to Memphis, making the five hour drive from St. Louis to do a small install for a good client. My wife calls to tell me that one of our daughter’s friends was in a bad accident. She is in serious condition in a hospital in Louisville, along with two other passengers in the car. Her mother was killed when the SUV they were driving went end over end several times.

Kait has never had to experience attending the funeral of a friend’s mother. It’s not something a high school kid should have to contemplate. She is in a bit of a state of shock thinking about her friend and going to a wake and funeral.

I spent a good portion of the drive thinking about my daughter and her friend, and what that young lady and her family are experiencing. I don’t know the family at all, but I can’t imagine what they are going through. The thought occurs to me that had her mom worked in our industry, I know that if the family needed help, they would be able to turn to the EDPA Foundation and the Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic.

This is exactly the kind of situation that the Randy has been supporting since its inception 18 years ago, helping industry families in need, and it is one of the core missions of the Foundation. Working in an industry that values its people enough to support these kinds of efforts says a lot about who we are. But then I hit on another thought: How would that family know that the Foundation is there to help?

The good works and financial support that come out of the Foundation and the Randy Smith should have a broad appeal to all companies in our industry, and every one of their employees. But I’m not sure how far and wide the message has been spread – that the Foundation is there for our people, and that the Foundation uses the funds donated for the benefit of those people in need.
To me, this is the primary marketing challenge for the Foundation – to reach each and every employee of each and every company in our industry to make them aware of what the Foundation can do and to engage them in the cause of supporting the good works of the Randy.

As a member of the EDPA Foundation board, I believe we need to develop a marketing plan that reaches every company with a program they can implement inside their companies to increase awareness of the Foundation’s good works and to generate funds for the causes of the Foundation.

As an example, with our company of 25 employees, in each of the last two years we have collected close to $2,000 each year during our holiday party for local charities. What if we had instead donated that to the EDPA Foundation and kept that money inside our industry, where it would be used by our industry’s employees in need? We certainly will from this point forward.

What if there was a national campaign led by the Foundation to engage every employee in every exhibit company to collect funds during the holidays (and throughout the year) specifically for the cause of supporting families in our industry?

One big thing I learned from guiding our company through the recession is that there is no such thing as a number too small. In the case of trying to save money, every penny added up helped the cause of survival. In this case – raising money for good works – every penny from every donation adds up.

There is no such thing as a number too small.

What if we could involve the employees in each of our local companies in an effort to support this national industry cause? Imagine the potential impact of that level of involvement. Imagine an industry full of small companies coming together to support one cause – a cause that supports the individual employee and their families.

It wouldn’t make the loss of a loved one hurt any less, but it might help in the weeks and months afterward. It’s a nice thought anyway.
Don’t be surprised if you hear more from me on this topic. I have a few more long road trips this spring.

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry 29 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive. He is a partner in the trade show and event marketing firm Reveal. He can be reached at jobermeyer@revealexhibits.com.


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