David Audrain Takes the Torch from Lew Shomer as New SISO Executive Director
At the annual business meeting lunch during the Society of Independent Show Organizer’s CEO Summit, held April 13-16 on Kiawah Island, S.C., the association’s chair, Charlie McCurdy, revealed that Exposition Development Company (ExpoDevCo) was named SISO’s new management company and David Audrain, CEO of ExpoDevCo, as new executive director.
“I’ve been humbled … I’ve been very lucky these last couple of years to have the support of SISO,” Audrain said.
He added, “ … From an industry perspective, SISO provides the very best gathering for leadership to have networking and business opportunities.”
The appointment will take effect on Jan. 1 when Lew Shomer and Shomex complete their seven years of leadership service to SISO.
“SISO is in great shape with a very diverse and robust membership that spans the globe - it's a great organization with lots of upside still to come,” McCurdy said.
He added that the board “wanted to thank Shomex Productions and Lew Shomer for their success in bringing SISO to the level it has reached as the premier organization serving the for- profit show organizer”.
Shomer said of the appointment, “I am thrilled that the board has chosen David to be the executive director when I step down.”
He added, “David and I have known each other for more than 10 years, and I was proud to serve under his leadership when he was chair of SISO. His unique entrepreneurial drive, mixed with his managerial style for organizing and producing shows all over the world will help SISO maintain the many relationships we have developed which make SISO such an integral part of the overall global Industry”.
Exposition Development Company is a three-year-old Atlanta-based service company specializing in the organization and management of Trade Shows and Conferences in North America that include owned events, licensed shows and show management contracts.
Audrain founded ExpoDevCo with Stephanie Everett; the partners have worked together for more than 9 years, producing both US and International events. David is President & Co-owner of ExpoDevCo.
At the launch of ExpoDevCo, Audrain also served as president and CEO of Clarion Events North America, a joint venture between Clarion Events Limited and Audrain/ExpoDevCo.
Previously, he was president and CEO of Messe Frankfurt North America, where for more than six years he produced a portfolio of 10 events in the USA, Mexico and Canada, which included six launches, and managed exhibitor sales and attendee promotion to the North American markets of more than 100 worldwide shows.
In addition, Audrain served as COO of ConvExx from 2001 through 2005, where they managed the world-renown SEMA Show. He also held senior management positions with: Advanstar, where he managed the MAGIC apparel shows; Hanley Wood Exhibitions, where he was responsible for the Surfaces and NACE shows; and Miller Freeman, where he was responsible for the Sewn Products & Decorated Apparel Group which included nine trade shows and 4 monthly trade publications.
Audrain started his career in the U.S. with the Texas Restaurant Association, and prior to his move to the U.S., he owned a software development company in Europe, creating high-end multi-currency accounting and investment management software.
Audrain has served on the board and the executive committee of SISO and as chairman in 2013-2014. He also was a past chairman of the International Association for Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), and currently serves on the board of directors of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).
Shomex and Shomer took over the reins of SISO in October 2008 at the beginning of the recession and, even though the first year was tough and the Industry contracted, SISO has been able to grow and significantly increase the number of international members, which now make up about 25 percent of the overall membership.
"This has just been the most wonderful experience I could have imagined when I took over the position at SISO,” Shomer said.
He added, “With the help of my wife, Clare, Anna Osnower and Gillian Campbell, I believe we will leave SISO in an excellent position with a great and robust membership, loyal and wonderful sponsors and money in the bank. More importantly, so many of these people I have had the opportunity to interact with from all over the world have become my friends."
SISO has grown from 95 to 177 member companies in the past 7 years, and their members organize more than 3,500 shows annually.
When asked what he would miss most, Shomer said, "I will miss the people who have become friends from all over the world, but I am sure I will stay in touch."
After he steps down, he will be busy working on the Abilities Expos, which are in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Boston and San Jose, Calif.
“We have developed a transition program that will make the passing of the leadership virtually seamless, ensuring our members and sponsors will continue to receive the very best service that they have come to expect,” McCurdy said.
He added, “We are confident that David will continue to lead SISO at the forefront of the Industry as we concentrate on member benefits and continuing education to schools, universities and our member organizations. I would specifically like to thank Tony Calanca, who headed up the search committee that found David, and the entire executive committee that worked tirelessly to achieve our goal.”