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ECN’s I&D Spring 2023 ACEs: Tom Cassell & Jesus Rodriguez

by Jeanne Brei

Exhibit City News is thrilled to be able to return to presenting our I&D ACE Awards honoring the men and women of I&D. We will be accepting submissions for I&D ACE awards all year and will be traveling regionally to present them locally throughout the year. Please continue to send us your submissions at www.ECNACEawards.com for:

  • Rookie of the Year ACE
  • Seasoned Show Floor Veteran of the Year ACE
  • Best Regional Manager ACE 
  • Best Traveling Lead ACE 
  • Firefighter of the Year ACE
  • Flooring Installer ACE
  • Double Deck Installer ACE 
  • Regional I&D Ace Award
  • Best Operations Team
  • William F. Nixon, Sr., Lifetime Achievement ACE award
  • ECN’s I&D ACEs Hall of Fame Posthumous award

ECN‘s Lifetime Achievement ACE Award: Tom Cassell

Tom Cassell Lifetime Achievement ACE current pixIn a career that has spanned more than 40 years, Tom Cassell has been recognized and respected as an industry leader. He brought innovative thinking to the business challenges of the tradeshow and exhibition venues, the event organizers and the contractors who serviced those events.

Jim Wurm, executive director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association (EACA), explains, “Tom routinely delivered insights, as well as actionable solutions, to meet the everyday challenges facing unionized labor, general contractors, show organizers and venue management in the complex face-to-face environment. He also was sought out to disarm needless misunderstandings and potential conflicts among the parties resulting in greater efficiencies, profitability and an enhanced exhibitor and attendee experience.”


A Tremendous Role for I&D

Former EDPA President Larry Kulchawik remembers, “Tom played a tremendous role in getting I&D companies recognized as key suppliers. He was also very active with EDPA in the early days. When I was president of EDPA in 1996, we attempted to start the EDPA Chicago back up. We (EDPA members) organized a meeting in Chicago to vote on re-starting the Chicago chapter. All were in favor so we voted on who should serve as president. Tom did not attend the meeting, but his name was nominated to serve as president. All those in favor said, ‘aye.’ Tom agreed to serve but was not happy about how it was decided.” Kulchawik continues, “Tom’s role at McCormick was an innovative first for our industry. Serving as an ombudsman for McCormick to help sort out any misunderstandings between labor unions, exhibitors, and show managers. He conducted himself very well in this capacity, even if many did not agree with his rulings. Tom won the EDPA Hazel Hays Award for his leadership.”

Tom Cassell Lifetime Achievement ACECassell wore many hats during his career, including being Chicago city manager for Exhibits, Inc. I&D, president/founder of Convention All Services, consultant for the Chicago Auto Show, president/owner of Tom Cassell & Associates LLC, and facility floor manager and ombudsman for McCormick Place. Even in retirement, his Linkedin page says he is still actively consulting for labor management companies. Wurm adds, “No matter where Tom worked, or what position he held, he could be counted on to make the show floor environment a more productive, cohesive and efficient space to service exhibitors—the end customers of our industry.”

The Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA) Executive Director Larry Arnaudet remembers that he “worked with Tom for quite a few years when I was an Official Service Contractor, and we had an excellent relationship. True, we didn’t always agree on things but were always able to work through it with a smile on our faces at the end. I have nothing but respect for Tom. He’s a good man!”

A True Friend

Momentum Management bought Cassell’s Convention All Services business in 2007 and CEO Randy Bott says, ““I’ve personally known Tom for 35+ years outside of his immense knowledge of our industry. Tom has been a true friend to both myself and the Momentum family. Thank you, Tom, you’ve made all of us better.”

Alex Gordon, an account executive at 2020 Exhibits, wrote in 2012, “I have known Tom for many years and have always considered him to be one of the best people in the industry. I have tapped into his knowledge on many occasions and benefited greatly from his insights. He is one of the few I would truly call an expert in his profession.”

ECN’s Floor Installer ACE of the Year: Jesus Rodriguez 

Jesus Rodriguez BrumarkBrumark’s social media honored this ECN ACE with an employee spotlight saying, “We’re excited to recognize one of the best flooring installers in the industry, Jesus Rodriguez. Jesus has been with the company for two years and loves sports and the Mission Impossible movies. One of his favorite parts of the job is working on inlays because it highlights their skills and precision. Thanks for all that you do, and we’re happy to have you as a part of this team!”

Rodriguez spent nearly 20 years with Exhibitor Carpet Service before joining Brumark and he loves that he’s been able to continue to work with some of the best flooring installers—including Tim Mescall who’s currently based in Florida for 20 plus years and several others.

A Genuine Person

Brumark Division President James Zacharias adds, “There are many of you that know JR from the many years he’s been on the show floor. Over the last few years I’ve gotten to know JR, he is driven not only for his job but his family. He is a genuine person whom I admire and am extremely excited to have JR part of our Brumark family!”

This story originally appeared in the Q2 2023 issue of Exhibit City News. For original layout, visit ECN’s digital flipbook at https://issuu.com/ExhibitCityNews.


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