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by Amadeus Finlay

From Project New Hope to Rally in the Alley, EDPA Northeast is among the most active chapters of the EDPA family. Following September’s Classic golf tournament, where the chapter raised $2,500 for the EDPA Foundation for student scholarships, Amadeus Finlay caught-up with EDPA Treasurer Matthew Johnson (pictured above) of elevation3D, to learn more about what keeps the chapter active, focused and committed to the greater good.

ECN: The northeast chapter is founded on education, succession and benefaction; can you explain what each of these pillars means?

MJ: We founded the chapter on three pillars we felt were important to the sustainability of our industry and our chapter. The first pillar is education. We believe in offering mentorships focused on what we do in order to feed the pipeline of younger people entering our field. We have more students out of college starting in the industry rather than the old school way of “falling into” the industry. Our focus on supporting the education of these students, as well as providing a forum for experienced professionals to learn, is important to us. The second pillar is succession. We firmly believe it is our duty to foster an environment where chapter members have an opportunity to learn about and impact the exhibit community for the future well-being of our profession. Lastly, our third pillar is benefaction. We as a group felt we have a major opportunity to impact our community in a number of ways. Since our inception, our major events each year focus on supporting members of our chapter and aiding where needed. This is what drives us and we take great pride in being in the position to help those in need.

ECN: How does EDPA apply the pillars to every day actions within the industry?

MJ: Great question. We use these pillars as the basis for all of the work we do. We meet weekly to discuss what is occurring, what is on the horizon and what else can we do, given the resources we have. As a chapter, we spend a great deal of time donating services to mentorships, industry speaking engagements, fundraising, national programs and local initiatives. Each member of our board is passionate about improving our industry and creating a positive atmosphere for our companies and all its employees.

ECN: Do you feel that the EDPA message of education, succession and benefaction positively affects and impacts the exhibit community as a whole?

MJ: Of course. That’s why we do it! Look at our two major fundraisers each year- The Rally at the Alley and The Classic golf tournament. We have raised $15,000 and $16,500 the past two years at the Rally for industry members in need. We are a small chapter and to be able to garner that level of support is amazing to me. While we are a group of competitors and vendors, when we come together, we are all family.  It is unbelievable to see. We have supported the EDPA Foundation Scholarship fund for three years in a row now. We are firm believers in helping our youth achieve their dreams of higher education and being able to participate in that and support them, even if only in a small financial way, is heartwarming to us.

ECN: Is there a personal element to the pillars? Do you seek these attributes in the personalities you bring onto the EDPA team?

MJ: I believe we have experienced the successes we have simply because of the kindness and unselfishness of the people involved in our chapter. It all starts with our board of directors. We have been fortunate to add quality personalities each year to bolster the core group that has been involved since day one. There is a consistency in our attitudes, work ethic and heartfelt desire to want to create a better culture for everyone in our industry. We have been able to bring out the best in our chapter and it means the world to us that we live and work in the Northeast. Our chapter has come together in so many ways in the past four years.

ECN: What do you feel are the strongest attributes that EDPA brings to the industry?

MJ: Our people care about helping. We are committed to helping. We have some of the most intelligent, supportive and caring people in the industry in our chapter and on our board. It makes what we do rewarding. When you can harness that talent and direct it towards something positive, only wonderful things will happen.

ECN: How can those not familiar with EDPA support the organization’s endeavors?

MJ: We are always looking to add to our chapter and build a bigger and better environment. We are more than happy to discuss what we stand for with anyone and educate them on how participating can and will be a rewarding experience. We hold several events throughout the year and welcome newcomers who are curious or interested in what we do.

ECN: Finally, provide a quick run-down of the highlights of EDPA and why companies and individuals within the industry should get involved.

MJ: Not only do we focus on education, succession and benefaction, we also focus on doing it in a fun way! We hold a cocktail reception at ExhibitorLive, which allows people to mingle, network and simply put a face to a name in a comfortable setting. Our bowling event, The Rally at the Alley gets bigger and better each year and is held right outside of Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Our golf event also gets bigger and better each year and is attracting people from all over the country. Our networking-first format places golfers from different companies together to allow for meeting new people that may otherwise not occur. While our goal is to help people, we want everyone to have fun doing it. If we don’t, no one will want to help in the future! We hold several other events throughout the year and are always looking to add to the list. We are loving what we do and are happy we can have a positive impact on the industry while doing it.

Matthew Johnson has been in the tradeshow industry since 1996. A previous president of EDPA N.E., he currently serves as the chapter’s treasurer. Outside EDPA, Johnson is a senior account executive at Elevation3D, Shrewsbury MA. He can be reached at mjohnson@elevation3d.com.

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