by Kaylee Hultgren | April 01, 2008

Larry Karel“My reward is a successful show, when exhibitors have done well and will return to the next one.”

Larry Karel is president and founder of Karel Exposition Management, an Aventura, Fla.-based regional furniture and accessory trade show company. Aside from devoting 48 years of service to the industry, Karel is best known for catering to independent, local retailers throughout the country by bringing smaller shows to their own backyards.

What is most satisfying about your job? Walking around the convention center floor and seeing order pads out, with my exhibitors smiling away as they write up an order from an attending buyer.

How did you get started in the industry? My father started this company, and I joined at the age of 21. I remember saying to my father back then that I felt like a secretary with all the typing he had me do. But as the months and years passed, I stepped up the ladder, especially when he passed away in 1972. I was in my 30s then, and I wondered how I was ever going to do what he was able to do so well. But I’m happy to say that now I sell from 5,000 to 7,000 booths yearly.

What’s the best professional comment you’ve ever received? Christopher Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy’s youngest son, once said at a show I produced for him in Chicago, “When I die, I want to come back as Larry Karel.”

How do you reward yourself for a job well done? My reward is a successful show, when I know that the exhibitors have done well and will return to the next one. Of course, I cherish dinners with my wife to relax and appreciate it all.