Society of Independent Show Organizers' Executive Director Lew Shomer Will Step Down

September 3, 2014

Lew Shomer, the executive director for the Society of Independent Show Organizers, will be stepping down from the organization that represents for-profit show organizers when the current management agreement with his management company, Shomex Productions, expires Sept. 30, 2015.

Shomer told the SISO Board of Directors at the last meeting in Atlantic City that "it's time to change leadership and continue the growth of SISO."

SISO Chairman Rick McConnell said, "With the help of Lew, SISO is in the best possible shape and is a great organization, with lots of upside still to come."

He added that the board "wished that Lew would stay on, but having already convinced him to extend his contract twice before, they understand that he wants to concentrate his efforts on his own show, Abilities Expo."

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."

McConnell said that under Shomer’s leadership, relationships with many other key associations have flourished, including: UFI, USTA, AMPROFEC, AFIDA, CCPIT and ABM.

In addition,” relationships with both SACEOS (Singapore) and IEIA (the Indian trade show organization) are in the works,” he added.

SISO has grown from 95 to more than 160 member companies in the past 6 years and their members organize more than 3,500 shows annually.

"Lew has worked diligently to increase value to our members. He has been innovative and supportive with the education steering committees as well as making the CEO Summit far more interactive and compelling. The Executive Leadership Conference now connects SISO members with new technologies and emerging professionals to network and call this show their new home--thanks to Lew,” McConnell said. "In addition, SISO is giving back more and more with the recently signed financial grant for industry research with CEIR. I can go on and on, but most importantly, the SISO organization is well-run, and Lew provides invaluable insight and effective execution. And he is my friend."

With more than a year's advance notice, McConnell said they are confident that they will be able to find a successor who “can carry on the great work that Shomer and his team have done bringing SISO to the forefront of the Industry.”

He added, "We will be seeking another management company with a strong leader like Lew, who is familiar with SISO and comes from an organizer's background.”

For anyone who has a company where they can become Executive Director at SISO as well, they may request an RFP from Tony Calanca (tcalanca@advanstar.com) before Nov. 21.

The Executive Committee plans to review applications by Jan. 17 and appoint Shomer’s successor by the end of March.

McConnell added that they wanted to “have a full six-month transition and continue to provide the best possible service to our members and the Industry."

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.

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