One-on-One…with Glenn Feder
November 2nd, 2008

“There are not a lot of other shows tied to this industry setting records.”

November-December 2008

By Jeffrey Steele

When Glenn Feder joined National Trade Productions, the Alexandria, VA firm that stages Coverings each year, he brought with him a wealth of experience. In the previous 15 years, he had climbed the corporate ladder in sales, launched and grown his own start-up venture and made a name for himself in a Fortune 500 company.

All that experience served him well when he arrived at NTP in 2001. Three years later, National Trade Productions took over responsibilities for Coverings, and Glenn’s job responsibilities—and achievements—have done nothing but multiply ever since. Having shepherded Coverings to record attendance in 2007, and the promise of even larger numbers this year, Glenn recently took time out for a wide-ranging interview with TileDealer. In this insightful exchange, he reveals how NTP measures the success of each show, talks about expectations for Coverings Boutique and explores the ways Coverings and NTP are evolving, even in the face of today’s troublesome economy.

TileDealer: What is your background, and how did you come to your current position at National Trade Productions?

Feder: I was born in Rhode Island, grew up in Massachusetts, and went to college at the University of Massachusetts, where I majored in marketing and got a bachelor’s of business administration degree. From there, I moved down to Maryland to work for American Hospital Supply Corp., now Baxter Healthcare.

After five years there, I started my own ground transportation company in Maryland. After another five years, I sold that, and in the mid-1990s went to work for Budget Group, and spent another five years there, and that rolled me into NTP. I have entrepreneurial experience, Fortune 500 experience, and cut my teeth in sales.

I’ve been with NTP for seven years, starting in 2001 as a sales director. Since that time, we have more than doubled the size of the company. I moved into the position of vice-president of sales, and after several years there, moved into the presidency. I’ve always been involved in Coverings since we took them on in 2004.

In my current role as president of the division, which I moved into in late 2006, I now have oversight responsibility for marketing, in addition to sales and revenue, and matrix management responsibility for operations as well.

TileDealer: Why did NTP decide to convene Coverings in Chicago in 2007 and 2009, when the show had been in Orlando for so many years and will be again in 2008?

Feder: There are a lot of answers. The primary answer is when we took the show over in 2004, we heard resounding requests that people wanted to try a new venue. While Orlando was great, they wanted to try something new.

When you look across the country, there are not that many places that could take us. It’s four or five: New Orleans, Las Vegas, Chicago and Orlando. That narrows the field significantly. There were no available dates in Vegas. We had a 16-day show requirement from move-in to move-out, and only Chicago could accommodate that.

Some of the other reasons for choosing Chicago included the number of architects and designers—a community we’ve been targeting—in that market. And it offered attendees a new venue to enjoy. People attend shows in part based on how much fun they will have. And Chicago is a major city with a lot to offer that way.

TileDealer: How does NTP measure the success of each Coverings?

Feder: The answer that comes out of any successful trade show manager’s mouth initially is attendance—and square footage. Beyond this obvious metric, we gather a lot of anecdotal feedback from everyone, attendees and exhibitors alike. We devote a lot of attention to pavilion coordinators/representatives. They represent, on a broad brushstroke, the sentiments of their members. We conduct focus group surveys with attendees as well. Anecdotal observations are part of that, but we also do formal attendee and exhibitor surveys where we ask a battery of questions to solicit feedback.

TileDealer: What is the fallout of that measurement?

Feder: Exhibitors always want to see new and different attendees, and attendees always want to see new products, new designs and new opportunities to bring back to their firms. The show has sold out every year since we’ve taken it on, and has sold out this year.

That covers your net square footage piece. We’re coming off a record attendance of 37,000, and we are right now well ahead of last year’s pace.

Trade shows in general will draw 30 to 40 percent of their attendance from the region in which the show is held. Going into a new region with an especially aggressive marketing campaign, and into a better-

populated region, we were able to drive attendance levels to new records last year. The greater attendance this year is part of the compounding effect of moving the show. You don’t want to move it every year. But a rotation makes sense because it captures a new audience, pulls some of your most loyal audience from the other venue, and makes for a better-attended show.

Fifty percent of those in attendance last year had not attended Coverings before. So one of our efforts this year is to pull as many of those people into Orlando this year, and that’s one reason we feel Orlando is looking especially strong.

TileDealer: Considering the economy, particularly with respect to housing, how is National Trade Productions adjusting its expectations for 2008 and beyond?

Feder: Results speak to that. We are investing in this event; we are marketing aggressively. And it’s our philosophy to market in a down economy, because it will be back. If you look at some of the other events that would track against the housing market, I think Coverings’ record-level attendance and sold-out events stands it at the top of the industry. A lot of other shows are struggling.

There are not a lot of other shows tied to this industry that are setting records. The fact that we are is due to our aggressive marketing, the fact we’re taking the show to new attendees, and are employing new tactics and strategies.

TileDealer: What’s ahead for NTP—and for Glenn Feder?

Feder: NTP as always is continually in an aggressive growth mode. We want to take on new clients with existing shows, and start new shows of our own, and continue to grow our Creative Solutions Group in-house design division. That’s a division we started as a part of the growth initiative begun in 2001 to bring design and marketing services to current and new trade show clients, as well as other corporate clients in need of marketing expertise. One other thing: All of this is taking place while we’re delivering unsurpassed customer service to clients, exhibitors, attendees and vendors alike.


Jamie Tiburzi, senior marketing manager


Elena Grant, executive director of marketing


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