Event management and marketing company Freeman is celebrating a big birthday: It's turning 90 years old this year.
Established in 1927 as a small, family-owned decorating business, the company now has more than 8,000 employees around the world who are dedicated to producing and promoting live events for its customers.
It's using its birthday as an opportunity to reflect not only on the past, but also on the future.
"Our 90th anniversary isn't just about looking back on where we've been; it's about where we're going, and how, on behalf of our clients, we are transforming our business and the industry as a whole," said Freeman Vice Chair Carrie Freeman Parsons. "Our success was built on the relationships we've had and continue to have with our clients and partners, and those relationships have built us up, defined us, and given us the license to challenge, define, and innovate our industry. We are tremendously grateful for our clients all over the world; it is because of their steadfast loyalty and trust that we are able to lead such transformative change."
As it looks ahead, Freeman said it's dedicated to several strategic goals that it believes will define the future of meetings and events. The first is mass personalization.
"Data is providing us with insights that allow us to personalize the experience, creating deeper, more meaningful connections," explained Chris Cavanaugh, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Freeman, who said the company is exploring new ways to leverage data and technology to design events that are more responsive to individual consumers. "It starts with putting the audience at the center of the proposition, using empathy and insights to understand what they want and need, and then creating a personalized experience that delivers without being intrusive."
Another major focus is technology -- including virtual reality, for example -- in which Freeman continues to invest via Freeman Digital Ventures, its fund for accelerating digital innovation across its business.
"The market is becoming increasingly sophisticated," said Richard Maranville, Freeman's executive vice president and chief digital officer. "There is a growing demand for cutting-edge technology that takes audience interaction to the next level. As the global leader in the category, we are uniquely positioned to develop digital solutions that improve audience experience and drive the future of the industry."
Freeman said it owes its continued relevance to longtime Chairman Don Freeman, who also is celebrating a big milestone this year: his 40th anniversary with the company.
"Don Freeman is the reason we have been so successful over the last 40 years," said Freeman CEO Joe Popolo. "Under Don's leadership, from the time he succeeded his father, Buck Freeman, in 1977, to when he passed the torch to me in 2008, Don grew the business over 6,000 percent. We all owe him an immense debt of gratitude for building on Buck Freeman's legacy and guiding the transformation of Freeman into the global leader we are today."
How Freeman will continue that transformation in the years ahead comes down to its core competency, according to President Bob Priest-Heck. "We have the ability to connect people, organizations, and cultures in ways that create massive positive change on a global scale," he said. "The work we have done to reinvent our company and design our future will create new worlds of engagement where brands come to life and experience what is next."
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