Bob Priest-Heck Moves Up, Champion’s Mark Epstein Steps Down


HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Middleboro, MA –- Bob Priest-Heck, currently president and CEO of Immersa Marketing, has been promoted to CEO of WCP Expo, the umbrella company for Champion Exposition Services, the George Fern Company and Immersa.

Mark Epstein, co-founder of Champion Exposition Services, will step down as CEO of the company and move into a senior advisory role with parent company WCP Exposition Services Holding Company, LLC (WCP Expo).

The personnel transition is expected to be carried out during the Fourth Quarter. Priest-Heck told Trade Show Executive that all three entities will remain headquartered in their current locations:  Champion in suburban Boston; the George Fern Company in Cincinnati; and Immersa in San Francisco.  The three companies will continue to function as independent units, although they will also be part of a team approach at WCP Expo.

For Epstein, the move marked the end of a long tenure at the helm of the trade show services company he co-founded with Mark Palm in 1986. “I have enjoyed each and every moment I’ve spent building and managing Champion over the past 22 years,” Epstein said. “I look forward to continuing my involvement with the company in my new role.”

Epstein called Priest-Heck “uniquely qualified” to run WCP Expo. Priest-Heck has two decades of experience on both the show management and exhibitor side and has worked closely with service contractors. This not only gives him a unique vantage point in directing the growth of WCP but also in understanding the issues facing today’s marketers.  Priest-Heck is the former president and CEO of MediaLive International Inc., which owned the COMDEXInterop and Web 2.0 brands. He has been a show manager for nearly two decades.

Champion was recapitalized in 2005 by Wachovia Capital Partners at the same time Wachovia acquired Fern. Champion currently has nearly 600 employees in offices in 25 cities.

The George Fern Company was founded in 1909 as a window-trimming business. The company  rapidly expanded in services and scale and now is one of the top general service contractors in the U.S. and Canada, serving more than 750 expositions and hundreds of events.

Not to be Confused with Wachovia Bank

Priest-Heck told Trade Show Executive that WCP Expo  is a separate legal entity under the private equity arm of Wachovia and thus is not controlled by the bank or tied to its current financial woes. “We are a self-sustaining business with good cash flow,” he said.

Priest-Heck told TSE he would be spending the better part of the next six weeks on the road to meet with staff and customers as he assumes his new role.

Reach Bob Priest-Heck at (415) 655-2200 or bph@immersamarketing.com; Mark Epstein at (508) 946-8500; Mark.Epstein@championexpo.com