Interview With A SMOTY Winner – David Grindle

Interview With A SMOTY Winner – David Grindle

August 6th, 2015 0 Comments

The Expo Group Show Manager of the Year Awards Nominations for 2015 are now open.  Go here to nominate a deserving show manager now! 

Here is a transcript of our interview with 2014 The Expo Group Show Manager of the Year Award Winner, David Grindle from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.  You can listen to this interview in our podcast here.

David,  you won last year for your leadership the USITT Conference and Stage Expo.  This year’s conference was in Cincinnati.  How did it go? 

Cincinnati was an amazing experience for us.  We had our largest number of exhibitors, our largest number of attendees ever.  Over 5,500 theater designers and technicians descending upon the convention center for almost 300 exhibitors everything from sewing machines to lighting to makeup and rigging.  It was an amazing experience.

That’s outstanding.  I’m so glad you guys are having such a fantastic time with it.

We really are.  It’s been an amazing team effort with ideas that come from volunteers, from staff members (and) from the attendees.  We work to try and bring their ideas and their desires into the tradeshow and it’s really showing that response to your customer that gives you a stronger return in your customer base.

Well I hope you have continued success.   Lets talk about The Show Manager of the Year event.  It was held last year in conjunction with TSNN’s award celebration in Cleveland.  Now here’s the important question.  Did you have a good time?

We had a great time.  It is rare that I get to attend an event with my wife who is a musician but she was able to get away for the weekend.  To be in a room full of professionals that understand the little details that most people don’t even see when they walk into your event,  It was a great opportunity.  I had Board members that live in Cleveland and (the staff) made sure they had invitations so they could celebrate with us.  It was a great opportunity to make connections and also feel like I received an award but I felt like I was able to honor all of our staff and volunteers as well. 

Fantastic.  Did anything  change for you professionally?  Do you garner more respect from your colleagues?  Do they call you sir now?

Oh no no no.  But what I did get was the ability to come back and tell all the rest of our staff that people are noticing what were doing.  I think that was the big change.  That people were recognizing what we were doing as a team.  As a team leader that’s important to me that everybody recognizes their contribution.  That’s what makes things happen.

Speaking of the award, where is the award itself?  Is it in a prominent place?

The award happens to sit in my office right next to photos of me with various corporate leaders in our industry but most importantly, it sits next to me and Mickey Mouse.

Alright!  I like the place of importance there in your office.  They can see it right when they walk in.  Lets talk about the qualities you think a good show manager should have.

A good show manager should have two qualities.  One is innovation; the ability to generate new ideas and see possibilities because that keeps life and breath in the show.  I think over that, above all, a good show manager has to have patience.  You’ve got your show that means something to your business but for one of your exhibitors, you may be one of 25 shows. For another exhibitor, you may be their entire marketing budget for the year.  So the level of importance that each exhibitor places on your show requires a vast amount of patience.  And remembering that it’s a very important event but it’s important to each for various reasons and patience pays off when you get the opportunity to listen and address problems from the exhibitor to the attendees.

That’s a great point.  As you said, it can mean something a little different to each exhibitor, to each person and it’s a great quality and trait to have that patience to deal with them and recognize how much this means to them.

Yes and through that it also takes patience to stop and breathe and realize its up to us to do our best to bring the traffic that each of those companies need.  That’s vital to keeping tradeshows active in any industry.

Let me ask you what would you say to someone who is reluctant to nominate someone for a Show Manager of the Year Award?

Well as someone who didn’t even know he had been nominated until I got the phone call telling me I had won, we don’t recognize our own people enough.  We as an industry, our joy comes from seeing the faces of the exhibitors and the faces of the attendees.  But in fact we need to see the joy in recognition that we get from our own success being recognized.  I think that its so rare that there’s an award for this person that if you see someone deserving take the time do the nomination because it’s unbelievable the feeling they will get just to know they’ve been nominated.  And if they win, it’s stunning. 

And like you said you took that win and took that back to your team and kind of shared that with them and said hey we are being recognized for the quality work we are doing.

Yes and one of the great things that comes with this award is a gift to a non-profit from The Expo Group.  The Expo Group and I worked together and actually took part of the money and it went to an activity that is very near to most of our staff members so they were able to see a direct benefit to a program they’ve helped build and help support and know it makes a difference in the lives of people every year.

What projects are you currently working on?  Anything that you want to share?

One of my favorite things USITT is doing is an education program right now. Were working on a new program to increase safety in our high schools and community theaters.  So from the education standpoint there’s that.  Honestly (for) our 2016 Expo in March in Salt Lake City, we have just garnered one of the great keynote speakers in our industry who is a visionary and he’s actually coming in and bringing his ideas.  We’re starting to incorporate them all the way across our tradeshow so that you will see the impact of our keynote speaker and his designs and his innovation throughout the entire show which is really kind of fun.

Well, congratulations to you on your award last year and congratulations on the continued success of the USITT show.  Sounds like you guys are on the right path and I know with you leading that  effort it will continue to grow and get bigger and bigger.

Thanks to The Expo Group and to TSNN.  Really having someone who highlights the work of individuals and whole teams that are creating these it makes a difference to those people.  Thank you for putting his award out there.


The Expo Group Show Manager of the Year Awards Nominations for 2015 are now open.  Go here to nominate a deserving show manager now! 

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