Penton Completes Reorganization; Trims 8% of Exhibition Staff

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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New York, NY – Penton Media, Inc. has completed a timely reorganization that began as the U.S. economy entered its current swoon and has since made the company more streamlined and equipped to ride out the storm.

The company cut its exhibitions work force by 8% in the process of realigning its print, online and event properties into groups covering specific industry sectors.

The new strategy was initiated with the arrival of Sharon Rowlands as president and CEO last Fall. It was put into place this Winter in the form of a new roster of groups, each led by a senior vice president and including all of the publications, websites and live events serving its particular industry sector.

“It is very exciting,” Rowlands told Trade Show Executive. “It moves us to cross platforms that are focused on customer segments rather than siloed by product.”

In the past three years, other major media firms – Reed Exhibitions, Advanstar Communications, Inc. and Nielsen – have also realigned their companies from a focus on media platforms to a structure based on market segments.

Trade shows, conferences and seminars play a bedrock role in Penton’s strategy. Alan Peterson, who took on the new titles of president of expositions for Penton Media and senior vice president of its New Hope Natural Media division, said the company eliminated an unspecified number of smaller events. Penton’s portfolio numbers 70 events, including the Natural Products Expo events and the International Wireless Communications Expo.

“We looked not only at events but also some of the publications that were down due to the economy,” Peterson told Trade Show Executive. “So we did make some changes to the exhibition staff in a way that asked some show directors to take on additional responsibilities.”

“We also cancelled some events and moved some to different time frames, so we had to eliminate some of the jobs with some of the events,” he added.

 

Fighting Trim

The new Penton structure created five sector groups with a senior vice president at the helm of each and acting as the umbrella group for a total of 13 more-specific industry segments. The sector groups include all of the print, digital and event properties associated with the particular industry segments.

The new groups include:

  • Industry Group. Includes design engineering, manufacturing supply chain and electronics systems markets. Headed by Bob MacArthur.
  • Agriculture, Food and Marketing Group. Covers food, agri-business, marketing and meetings. Led by Dan Bagan.
  • Lifestyle Group. Includes natural products and health and the New Hope Natural Media division. Headed by Fred Linder.
  • Financial Services Group. Includes personal finance and real estate. Led by Warren Bimblick.
  • Technology Group. Covers information technology and digital media. Headed by Kim Paulsen.

Peterson said Penton did not blaze any trails into new sectors. “This is a realignment,” he said. “When you look at Penton’s market structure, we are in everything from energy to natural products and agriculture.”

 

Just in Time for the Recession

Penton appears to have its sails set for the time being and will forge ahead without looking to make any significant acquisitions to plug holes or break into new areas. Like many show organizers and media companies, Penton is playing it conservatively until the economy improves. “We are always looking to reinforce where we are strongest,” Peterson said.

“Obviously, we will adjust as numbers adjust, but we feel we have a pretty solid forecast and a pretty solid plan to execute on the events,” Peterson said. “We hope, like everyone else, that things turn around sooner than later but I believe we are pretty well positioned.”

Reach Alan Peterson at (303) 998-9103 or apeterson@newhope.com