Trade Show Giant Freeman Announces Management Changes

Freeman, the provider of trade show services, has capped a recent spate of innovations with changes in its executive management structure. Joe Popolo, president of the company, will become CEO effective July 1.He succeeds longtime namesake Donald Freeman.

Freeman, 70,will retain his position as chairman and take on such traditional emeritus tasks as customer relations and oversight of corporate culture. John O'Connell will take over for Popolo as president, leaving behind his duties as chief operating officer; that job will be assumed by Jeff Price, who has been Freeman's executive vice president. And,Carrie Freeman Parsons will add the role of vice chairman to her current duties as chief marketing officer.

"Freeman is a longtime, family-owned business, and I take this as just a natural succession plan," said Skip Cox, president and CEO of trade show consultancy

Exhibit Surveys Inc., based in Red Bank, NJ. "The two main promotions are family members, and it was their time, I guess." Popolo is Freeman's son-in-law, married to daughter Chris; Parsons is a Freeman daughter. The company's history has involved members stepping aside to make way for their kin to move up the ladder. Freeman became chairman and CEO of the company in 1977, upon the death of his father, Donald "Buck"Freeman,who founded the company in 1927.

He has overseen Freeman's growth into an industry leader that produces more than 3,900 expos annually, including 100 of the 200 largest U.S. trade shows. In December, Freeman expanded its global transportation services providing single sourcing for customs clearance and transportation of inbound and outbound exhibits, among other services. Also in December, the company unveiled an enhanced electronic floor plan service, integrating with ACT/ExpoCAD and A2Z, two Freeman partners.

Originally published May 19, 2008