Fern Exposition Services Acquired by Atlanta-based PE Firm MSouth

June 29, 2023

Atlanta-based private equity firm, MSouth Equity Partners,  acquired Fern Exposition Services, a trade show service provider and general contractor with headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. The value of the deal was not disclosed. 

Fern will join forces with Nth Degree, an existing MSouth portfolio company and provider of comprehensive trade show management, labor, and event production to some of the largest brands in the U.S. and internationally. 

The combination of Nth Degree and Fern gives MSouth a prominent footprint in the in-person event and experiential marketing industries.

"The consumer and business event market is in the midst of a substantial resurgence," said Barry Boniface, an MSouth Partner.

He added, "Spending in that segment is projected to outpace overall advertising and marketing investments as brands shift budgets to activities that engage buyers, create emotional connections, and increase sales. We believe that is a significant opportunity."

Fern services more than 1,400 trade shows and events annually as an official services provider, including multiple top-100 shows.

Fern will be led by long-time company executives Steve Larsen, COO, Michael Cox, Executive Vice President, and Senior Vice President Neil McMullin.

Aaron Bludworth, current Fern CEO, and J.T. Barclay, current Fern CFO, will retire after supporting the leadership transition. John Hense, Nth Degree CEO and Samantha French, Nth Degree CFO, will take on the additional responsibilities currently being performed by Bludworth and Barclay.

"This is an exciting combination that enhances the powerful offerings that both Fern and Nth Degree provide to our customers," Bludworth said.

He added, "I'm grateful for the dedication of the Fern leadership team and employees throughout the company and see great opportunities ahead as they continue to exceed customer expectations under the leadership of Mike, Steve, Neil and the Nth Degree executive team."

Nth Degree offers a range of services including exhibit and event labor, installation supervision, trade show management, retail installation and transportation to its clients spanning all industries.

Nth Degree operates throughout the U.S. with foreign operations in Canada, Europe and Asia. In addition, the company's event division - Nth Degree Events - creates large-scale corporate meetings, user conferences and exhibitions that drive growth and create memorable experiences for consumers and business buyers.

The company delivers more than 4,000 different industry events, conferences, congresses, and exhibitions annually. Nth Degree will continue to be led by Hense and French along with Russell Greenway, CCO, and Robert Lowe, president of Nth Degree Events, and other members of the company's executive team.

"Although Nth Degree and Fern will continue to operate independently, our customers will gain substantial benefits," Hence said.

He added, "Nth Degree and Fern clients get greater resources in more cities around the country and internationally. We'll also be able to offer expanded event services including space and sponsorship sales, strategy, speaker management, housing services, and more."

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