By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager
Chris Eisenberg, CEM joined Bartizan Connects in 2001 as its Western Regional Manager. Over the course of 18 years, he has worked his way up to his current position as Executive Vice President. In that time, he has also played a leadership role in the industry and as a strong advocate of IAEE, especially when it comes to initiating member involvement and participation.
Chris’ nine-year tenure on the board of directors for IAEE’s Southwest Chapter includes serving as its chair in 2014. He is known for his reliable presence at chapter events, and incredible insights and contributions to the board’s initiatives. Chris is also an active blogger and social media advocate, with a talent for using these communications channels as valuable education resources.
The SWIAEE Chapter Board is particularly grateful and proud of its charity event, organized by Chris, that honors the late trade show industry titan Bob Dallmeyer. Entering its fifth year, the event recreates one of Bob’s favorite pastimes: attending the taping of a Bill Maher show followed by food, drink and convivial conversation amongst Bob and his many friends in the industry. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund, which serves to support deserving individuals in their professional development and growth.
An IAEE member since 2006, Chris has also served on committees at the national level. His dedication, service and contributions to IAEE earned him IAEE’s Chapter Merit Award in 2018.
Here, Chris shares with IAEE his thoughts on what he likes best about the industry, staying on top of industry trends and how the IAEE Southwest Chapter strives to best serve its vast membership.
IAEE: What attracted you to exhibitions and events, and at what point did you feel this was the field you wanted to plant your professional roots in?
Chris: It’s an interesting question because when I started with Bartizan, I was actually hired to spearhead a project with the Department of Labor. So when I got the chance to work in the trade show industry, I was initially attracted to an industry that had a sales cycle of weeks, not years, and a chance to deal with decision makers every day. What kept me interested in the business were many different factors. As a supplier, we get the chance to deal with many different shows. Which makes it an exciting business. We work with shows all over the world, so we get to know all the different locations as well as all the many different types of associations and industries. There’s a lot to learn and so much of it is interesting. I’m also a big believer in “face-to-face.” I think it’s such a big part of doing business. And I find the whole aspect of putting on a show to be exciting each and every time.
IAEE: You have built an impressive career in your tenure with Bartizan Connects. What do you consider the advantage of staying with a company for the long haul, as opposed to keeping on the move? And, what advice would you give a young professional seeking to build success in this industry?
Chris: If you’re with the right company, staying with a company for the long term can allow you to grow with the company and become a part of the decision- making process and even, eventually, part of the leadership. If you believe in the company and you’re surrounded by strong leadership, it can be a rewarding experience. But not every company offers that. And if I were a young professional, I would not hesitate to move if I didn’t see the potential for long term growth. In fact, it’s easier to move earlier in your career before you put down roots or have a family. I would also take advantage of the CEM program as a young professional to learn about all aspects of the industry and what might be most appealing to you as a professional.
IAEE: You have served on your chapter’s board for a decade. What is your favorite part about stepping into a leadership role and what would your recommendations be to someone considering taking on more responsibility with their chapter?
Chris: I like being part of the team! I think we’re all there to help make the chapter better in many different ways and it’s a collegial atmosphere that allows us to explore new ideas and brainstorm best new practices for what will educate and motivate the chapter. I think we all enjoy each other’s company as well, whether it’s a board meeting or a chapter reception. I would encourage everyone to find a role that suits them and be part of the team, whether it’s SWIAEE, IAEE or AYSO (I’ve been a volunteer coach for 10 years and it’s another passion of mine!).
IAEE: Your colleagues commended you for your blogging skills and social media contributions, both of which require a constant stream of thought. Where do you go for inspiration and information about what’s happening in the industry?
Chris: I have the world at my laptop (or phone). The problem isn’t finding new ideas, it’s deciding which ideas to focus on. I sign up for a lot of email alerts so whether they’re from IAEE, TSNN, PCMA or CEIR, I am constantly receiving info about the industry and what’s going on in it. I make it a point of going to a lot of sessions at Expo! Expo! and I like learning what’s new and fresh with the industry. So much of sales is simply understanding what the trends are in the industry so that you can plan for them.
IAEE: According to your fellow chapter leaders, another asset you bring to the table is insightful ideas for the chapter to build upon. What do you see as the Southwest Chapter’s greatest strengths and how would you like to see the chapter continue to flourish in the near future?
Chris: We’re a very big chapter, geographically speaking. We include Southern California (which includes Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego), Las Vegas and Phoenix, so we bring a lot of communities to the table. For us to succeed we need to create events that appeal to each individual marketplace as well as our overall marketplace. I think we have in interesting and diverse Board and we need to keep brainstorming as to how we can keep presenting strong content for our chapter.
IAEE: It’s clear that Bob Dallmeyer’s legacy means a lot to you. What is the greatest lesson(s) that Bob taught you and what do you think he would say about the charity event you created in his honor?
Chris: Bob was a friend and a mentor and a titan of the industry. I think more than anything else, Bob would tell me (and all of us) to stay involved with everything we can both as a part of the industry and in life in general. I think Bob would appreciate the gesture and take it in the spirit it is offered. And then he would tell me to go man the phonebanks for 2020. 😊
Here’s what Chris had to say when accepting the Chapter Merit Award this past December at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2018 in New Orleans, La.