recently read an article about how most of us working in the trade show
industry had discovered it by accident. Everyone has a story to tell
about how they got started in the industry.
Every time I get a chance to speak about the
Expo/Event Industry, to people in the expo business, I tell the same
“The trade show and events industry generates $100
billion in revenue in the US. It ranks #22 in contribution to the GNP,
higher than agriculture and the printing industry, yet few, if any, in
this room have gone to school specifically to get into it. We have each
fumbled into it.”
We all have our own unique story about how it all
began for us. As a result, we have each discovered an industry we have
grown to love, and are proud of the good fortune that we have fallen in
In many cases, the educational training we received before discovering
this industry directly and indirectly applied to jump-start our success.
So to say that no one has training in our industry is incorrect. We all
have had training in one form or the other that applied to make us
successful in the exhibit marketing business.
The question I now raise is “Should an industry this powerful and
influential continue to attract its talent by
accident? Or is it time to start attracting talent on
Why not promote and provide training programs designed to prepare our
future with the needed skills to grow face to face marketing?
In spite of our many self-taught industry experts, we have become darn
good at what we do for the clients we serve.
EDPA and other industry groups have supported exhibit design education
programs for many years. The undergraduate exhibit design degree program
at Bemidji State and the master’s degree program
at FIT in NYC both are assisted and supported by EDPA and its company
members. The graduates of these programs will not have the same stories
to tell as we all have. Did you discover the exhibit industry, or did it
find you? We all needed a job and began without ever realizing the depth
and opportunities that awaited us.
My good friend Richard Erschik has been in the exhibit industry for the
past 40 years. He has been a top educational speaker at the Exhibitor
Show for 18 years and now lives in South Florida conducting educational
webinars directed to show organizers and exhibiting professionals.
Rich recently amended his popular webinar entitled
“Get the MOST from PRE-DURING-POST trade show exhibiting”
to include a prominent section that describes
expo associations as a valuable source to discover viable career
opportunities for college graduates and service veterans looking for
Aside from his involvement in the trade show industry, Rich is the
president of his local Toastmasters Club, a Viet Nam veteran, the
instructor of the Miami Dade college’s
Young Entrepreneur’s Academy program, and
an active South Dade chamber board member serving on their Marketing and
Military Affairs Committees.
“When I mention dedicated industry associations and
the trade show industry to college student members of Toastmasters, and
the military personnel I interact with at Homestead Air Reserve Base,
they never heard of either”
Another industry veteran, Jeff Bartle, Chief Creative Officer at 3D
Exhibits, Inc got his degree in industrial design in Detroit and looked
to be an auto designer. Somehow one thing led to another and he found
himself designing exhibits for the auto industry. Jeff has been a major
supporter of exhibit design education for many years and continues to do
Martha Hao - FIT Grad
Student Intern, Mackenzie Kaplan - Bemidji grad & 3DExhibits Designer,
Jeff Bartle - 3DExhibits Chief Creative Officer
There are many opportunities to consider in the world of trade show
marketing. The trade show industry and its suppliers need to be more
visible to them because they don’t know what they
As the expo/event industry continues to grow we should thank our lucky
stars for our unique discoveries in finding careers we love. Let’s
continue to build awareness of the trade show industry so that more will
dive into the industry intentionally rather than falling into
the expo industry by accident.
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