This Just In
  • The AHLA says the Dept. of Homeland Security will expand the number of H-2B seasonal guest worker visas available for this fiscal year.
  • The increase in H2-B visas will help small and seasonal businesses to meet workforce demands critical in peak tourist periods.
  • SMG signed a 3-year agreement to continue managing Cobo Center in Detroit. SMG has been the management firm for Cobo since 2010.
  • Highlights of SMG’s tenure include oversight of a major renovation, reduced operating deficit and creation of a technology department.
  • Ground was broken June 20 on the expansion of the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The 250,000-sf project will wrap up next year.
  • The $130 million expansion includes two new ballrooms, 11 breakout rooms and additional space for the center’s Stay Well Meetings feature.
  • The Louisville Downtown Marriott Hotel is undergoing a $30 million renovation slated for completion in August 2018. The hotel remains open.
  • The Marriott is attached to the Kentucky International Convention Center and offers 50,000 sf of meeting space and 616 guest rooms.
  • AEG plans to acquire four acres in downtown Nashville to be developed as a mixed-use entertainment district at SWVP’s Nashville Yards.
  • The mixed-use district will be anchored by a 4,000-capacity music hall, luxury theatre, live entertainment club, boutique hotel & more.

People on the Move

Jason Rittenberry

The Kentucky State Fair Board selected Jason Rittenberry to replace Cliff Rippetoe as President and CEO. Rippetoe left the position last Spring to become President and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Rittenberry was most recently Chief Strategy Officer at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack in Austin and is a past member of the board of directors of the International Association of Venue Managers. His new position gives him management oversight of the Kentucky Exposition Center and the Kentucky International Convention Center. Reach Jason at (502) 367-5000 or jrittenberry@ksfb.ky.gov

Bob Belber

SMG Regional General Manager Bob Belber was honored as Executive of the Year at the Albany Business Review’s 2016 Achievers Awards. Belber has been General Manager of the Times Union Center in Albany for the past 20 years and manages bookings for 13 SMG facilities in the Northeast. Belber is also involved in sales for the new Albany Capital Center, which will open for business in March. Reach Bob at (518) 487-2008 or bob.belber@timesunioncenter-albany.com

 

Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore was named President of Family Media LLC and Director of Manhattan Media by Isis Venture Partners. Family Media’s portfolio includes The Baby Show series of consumer shows held in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim. Moore most recently was Managing Director of Mining Indaba and has previously overseen event portfolios for the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Thomson Financial Media/Source Media. John Hurley, publisher of Family Media, will remain with the company and report to Moore. Reach Jonathan at (212) 268-8600 or jmoore@manhattanmedia.com; John Hurley at (212) 268-3086 or jhurley@manhattanmedia.com

Linda Hein

Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH promoted Linda Hein to Project Manager for the ALUMINUM brand effective January 1. She replaces Jessica Kristian, who was earlier moved up to Director of Marketing for the company’s entire materials trade show portfolio. Hein joined Reed in 2007 as an event manager and has been on the ALUMINUM business development team for the past three years. Reach Linda at +49 211 90191-226 or linda.hein@reedexpo.de; Jessica at +49 211 90191-232 or jessica.kristian@reedexpo.de

John Wentzell

John Wentzell joined Spectra by Comcast Spectacor on November 7 as President, Venue Management and Food Services & Hospitality. His primary duties include business development and improving operational efficiencies. Wentzell was most recently president of the UK operations of Delaware North Companies. He worked for Comcast Spectacor previously as COO of the Philadelphia Phantoms minor league hockey franchise from 1997-2009. Reach John at (215) 336-3600 or john_wentzell@comcastspectacor.com

Dan DiPietro

The Expo Group named Dan DiPietro its new National Sales Director. The newly created position is based in Washington, DC and includes outreach to associations seeking experiential events. DiPietro worked as Business Development Manager for Freeman during his career and was most recently Senior Director, Corporate Accounts for the Navy League of the United States. Reach Dan at (703) 383-9880 or ddipietro@theexpogroup.com.

Shannon Burchi

ASIS International promoted Shannon Burch to the newly created position of Vice President of Events and Business Development. She had been Director of Exhibits. Burch’s expanded role puts her in overall charge of the ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits. Reach Shannon at (703) 518-1424 or shannon.burch@asisonline.org

Barry Richards

First Protocol named Barry Richards president of the company’s managed services division, which serves the events industry. He will oversee account growth for clients in the U.S. and Great Britain. Richards spent the past 10 years with Grass Roots, a U.S. meetings and events services firm. Reach Barry at (212) 810 4100 or barry.richards@firstprotocol.com

Kelly Peacy

Kelly Peacy is leaving the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) to launch a business events consulting firm. Peacy will step down as PCMA’s Senior Vice President, Education and Events effective April 15, wrapping up a career with the association that began in 2000. Her new enterprise, Insight Event Strategy LLC, is already contracted to develop the open learning space at PCMA’s 2017 Convening Leaders conference. There was no immediate word from PCMA on who would fill the upcoming vacancy. Reach Kelly at (312) 423-7262 or kpeacy@insighteventstrategy.com 

Mark Garrison

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association created a new senior vice presidency position that will focus on keeping its events portfolio fresh and relevant to its members. Mark Garrison will head up the effort as SPI’s first Senior Vice President of Membership and Business Development. He was Vice President of Member Services for the past eight years. The SPI portfolio is led by the triennial NPE: The Plastics Show, which last year set a show record with more than 1.1 million nsf of exhibit space. Reach Mark at (202) 423-1448 or mgarrison@plasticsindustry.org

 

Claude Molinari

Claude Molinari has been promoted to General Manager of Cobo Center in Detroit effective immediately. Molinari is an 18-year veteran of SMG and has been Assistant General Manager of Cobo Center since 2010. He was also concurrently the Regional Director of Operations for SMG Mideast where he managed the operations departments of 15 facilities.   Molinari will report to Thom Connors, who remains SMG Regional Vice President with oversight over the Cobo account. Reach Claude at 313) 877-8777 or cmolinari@cobocenter.com; Thom at (313) 877-8777 or tconnors@cobocenter.com

Carol Wallace

Carol Wallace, former President and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp., was named temporary Executive Administrator for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). She will handle the day-to-day operations of the association, including planning for VenueConnect2016, during the search for a permanent replacement for Vicki Hawarden. Hawarden stepped down in February. Interim CEO Steve Flamm is leaving IAVM at the end of March, the association said. Wallace retired after more than 24 years with the San Diego Convention Center and launched her own consulting firm. Reach Carol at (858) 759-2682 or info@carolwallaceassociates.com; IAVM Chair Karen Totaro at (609) 449-2012 or Karen_totaro@comcastspectacor.com

Cedric Turnbore

Cedric Turnbore was promoted to Director of Operations at Cobo Center. Turnbore has been with the Detroit center for six years and was most recently Senior Operations Manager. He started out as Production Services Manager. His responsibilities include production, sustainability and janitorial services. Reach Cedric at (313) 877-8777 or cturnbore@cobocenter.com

 

Randy Pekowski

Randy Pekowski has been named President and Chief Operating Officer of The Expo Group. Founder and former President Ray Pekowski will remain CEO and Chairman of the business, currently celebrating its 25th year as a trusted exhibition and events partner. The promotion is part of the strategic succession plan the company has put in place for the next generation of leadership.

“It has become clear Randy is the right person to lead The Expo Group into the next 25 years,” says Ray Pekowski. “In his role as COO, he has been leading our day-to-day operations, gaining extensive experience and showing his great passion for this business. I am looking forward to working with him in his new role.”

Randy was named COO in 2006; he has worked in the trade show business and for The Expo Group in various roles for over 20 years. A graduate of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, Randy also studied at Harvard Business School's Owner/President Management graduate program. He is an inventor-of-record for The Expo Group’s patented business model and technology enabling Single Source® service.

“Innovative growth companies like ours create immense opportunities for our clients and for our own employees,” Randy says. “The foundation we have built in service and entrepreneurship over the past 25 years will be the platform on which I lead this company through to the next generation.”

David Gordon

David Gordon, former general manager of the Long Beach Convention Center, died in early March at the age of 73. He had suffered from stomach cancer. Gordon spent 21 years as general manager before retiring in 2010, and oversaw the center’s expansion in 1994. He also spent six years as assistant general manager of the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Reach Charles Beirne, General Manager, Long Beach Convention Center, at (562) 499-7575 or cbeirne@longbeachcc.com 

Enno Schummers

Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH named Enno Schummers to head up its new Digital Business Division, which will provide content-management and develop other digital services for its exhibitors and attendees. Schummers joined Reed from arvato AG, a subsidiary of Bertelsmann, where he managed the launch of a similar digital communications division. Reed produces 500 trade fairs and conferences in 43 countries annually. Reach Enno at +49 211 90191-0 or enno.schummers@reedexpo.de

Robert J. Tracy

Robert J. Tracy has joined United Service Companies as a senior vice president in their security group, United Security Services, Inc. 

Tracy, whose 30-year career includes command positions with the New York Police Department and global crisis management at Citigroup, most recently served as the Chief of Office of Crime Control Strategies for the Chicago Police Department. In this role, he worked under the guidance and supervision of then-superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. Tracy was able to reduce overall crime by 37% and helped achieve the lowest homicide rate since 1966. As Senior Vice President, Robert Tracy will provide consulting services, assist in the company’s growth, and direct United Security’s global efforts. 

Additionally, former deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department and Chicago Superintendent, Garry McCarthy, will work exclusively with United on various industry-based projects through his new private-sector venture, GFM-Strategies.  

“Our continued ability to recruit top talent is a paramount to bringing the best service to each of our clients,” said Richard Simon. “Robert Tracy is a distinguished member of both the public law enforcement sector and the private corporate sector. His leadership, along with the ability to partner with Garry McCarthy and GFM-Strategies, gives us a significant advantage as we ramp up our next generation security at public facilities.”

Contact Robert at (800) 248-8558 or rtracy@unitedhq.com; Garry at  (312) 986-9330 or gmccarthy@gfm-strategies.com

Don Welsh

Don Welsh, President & CEO of Choose Chicago,has  accepted a new position in Washington, DC as President and CEO of the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). Welsh was named to the new position two weeks prior to the DMAI’s February 9 Destinations Showcase in Washington.

Welsh will remain with Choose Chicago through March during which time the agency’s board will look for a new person to head up the Windy City’s overall convention, trade show and tourism marketing. “We appreciate the foundation that Don has laid and are confident that we will continue the trajectory,” Board Chairman Desiree Rogers said in a statement.

Among all of his accomplishments, Welsh told TSE he was most proud of the team at Choose Chicago and the outstanding results they have produced for the city and its partners over the past five years.  “I was grateful to be their biggest cheerleader and I will miss them,” Welsh said.

Welsh is an industry veteran with more than 35 years of experience in the hotel industry and with the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau and Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. He left the Indianapolis CVA in 2011 to join Choose Chicago.

Welsh will replace Michael Gehrisch, who left DMAI after 15 years last Fall. COO Charles Jeffers has been interim CEO since then. “After a thorough search process that included a stellar group of candidates, we are thrilled that Don accepted the position,” said Bob Lander, Chairman of the DMAI board and CEO of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

During Welsh’s tenure, the total number of overall visitors to Chicago grew by 12.5 million. At the same time, Choose Chicago also had to lay off about 25% of its staff last year when its annual state budget allotment became stalled in the Illinois legislature. The $7.2 million was eventually approved in December; however no re-staffing has taken place.

Reach Don at (312) 567-8588 or dwelsh@choosechicago.com 

Fred Peterson

Fred Peterson, Interim Executive Director at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC), was named Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) last month. Peterson, the longtime Director of Facilities Operations for the MCCA, replaced Deputy Director Ken Sinkiewicz, who retired after 16 years with the organization.

The promotion was made by David Gibbons, who became the new executive director of the MCCA in December. Peterson spent the second half of 2015 as interim executive director following the departure of James Rooney.

The MCCA runs the BCEC, the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center and the MassMutual Center. Milt Herbert remains executive director of the Boston Convention Marketing Center, which carries out the long-term sales functions for the MCCA properties.

Reach Fred at (617) 954-2459 or fpeterson@signatureboston.com

Heidi Voorhees

Heidi Voorhees has been named CEO of bXb Online LLC, the parent company of BOB.tv  - Best of Business - and will serve on bXb’s board of directors.

Voorhees will take over the duties of Tony Lorenz, who was recently named CEO of AlliedPRA, but he will remain the primary shareholder and member of the executive committee on the bXb board of directors.

Voorhees began her career with SmithBucklin where she rose to the position of Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the Institute of Food Technologies (IFT). She was in charge of the annual IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo, whose 2014 show ranked 89 on TSE’s Gold 100. She also spent two years at Experient, a Maritz Travel company, as Senior Vice President.

“I have been watching Tony and his team pioneer a big idea into a market that is tough to penetrate,” said Voorhees. “The opportunity ahead for BOB.tv is enormous, and the ability to lead this organization is incredibly exhilarating.”

Reach Tony at (312) 239-8537 or tony.lorenz@bxbgroupllc.com; Heidi at (312) 239-8537 or Heidi@bob.tv