by Terence Baker | June 01, 2005

Stephen A. Schuldenfrei"I was in marketing but saw that association employees were having much more fun than I was."

Stephen A. Schuldenfrei this month takes the helm as president of the Trade Show Exhibitors Association, the exhibit and event marketers organization based in Chicago. Schuldenfrei, with more than 25 years in the business, previously was executive director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers and president of the Exposition Operations Society.

What was your first industry job? It was in 1978, with the Helicopter Association International, involved in the civil helicopter industry. Before that I was in marketing but saw that association employees were having much more fun than I was. Soon I was involved in organizing the association’s trade show, as that was the part I enjoyed the most and the executive director enjoyed the least.

What do you intend to bring to TSEA? I want to bring lots of enthusiasm. There is so much we can do to make members have better shows, and I am motivated to uplift the whole industry. Trade show exhibitors are the source of all income in the industry, so my main job is to be an advocate of the issues of concern to them  especially as one-third of all exhibitors change every year. In addition, TSEA needs to better market itself.

Is more education for exhibitors needed? That always is the case. I would like to expand TSEA’s certified manager of exhibits [CME] program, and I hope to go to the largest cities in the country and conduct face-to-face programs with exhibitors. There is a great education center at our base in McCormick Place, so I will use that, too.