1988 – Richard Hease and I got back together again, three years after the demise of Prism. He convinced me that my sort of anal attention to detail was well suited to running exhibitions. Richard always has a piece of paper with him with a list of new ideas he always has for business opportunities and he showed me the current one. I was immediately drawn to one in property – and the ‘Property Business Show’ was born. After two years we sold it to Blenheim.
1989 – Richard had told me that an event director should have a cycle of three shows per year going at any given time, so I launched ‘Top PA’ and then realised that I had little time for a third. Exhibitions is often a family thing – the reception desk picture shows my children Sarah and Matt – I’m not sure Matt will forgive me for publishing the picture of him!
LIVE! the Consumer Electronics Show was the biggest show I got involved in when I launched it for News International. Rob Mackenzie recruited me when I explained that I had been visiting the USA Consumer Electronics Shows in Vegas and Chicago for many years. Given that experience I could graft on In-Car, Photography and other sections, and of course being backed by The Times, The Sun, Today, Sunday Times, News of the World and Sky made attracting a large audience relatively easy! It too was sold to Blenheim, and I was part of the deal.
While at News International I brushed up against some remarkable characters in Kelvin Mackenzie, Piers Morgan, Sam Chisholm and others, but my favourite story is of a budget meeting when some manager unwisely said to Rupert Murdoch that a questioned amount was only peanuts. Mr Murdoch leaned forward and stressed, ‘But they’re my peanuts!’
We also moved in to Fulham during this period.
Blenheim didn’t quite know what to do with me – I was in charge of Development, tried to launch a ‘Seniors/50+’ series of events, I went to launch their first public show in Kuala Lumpur, I ran their Premier fashion trade events for a season. I’ve never been much good as an employee, so left to do my own thing again. We moved out of London, back to our roots to Redland in Bristol
MacExpo was my longest running show – I launched Apple Expo in 1999 and 2000, the first was postponed and the second was cancelled by Apple.
We had downsized, moving out to the countryside at East Harptree in Somerset, and with the balance of cash buying a holiday villa in Spain at Pinosol, Javea. I served a year as the Commercial Director at the Royal Bath & West , not involved with their main agricultural show but seeking lettings for the rest of he year to other event organisers.
A group of Apple Expo exhibitors approached me to relaunch the show as The Expo in 2000. Richard Hease and I bought it from them in 2001 and cloned it to Cologne and Amsterdam. We ran it until 2006 then sold it on to Expomedia.
In the midst of all this we moved again, this time to Biddenham in Bedfordshire where I helped Aerofone as it took on fixed as well as mobile telecoms.
We moved again to Watlington in Oxfordshire where I had four great years working as XPO Group, primarily with my son Matt, Mark Elliott* (a virtual son) and my wife Jane at our offices in Marlow. We ran the MacExpo, Adobe Live and Nikon Solution Expo events, and a pan-European roadshow for the launch of Quark Xpress 7.
The operation was sold to Expomedia plc, where I briefly joined them to be responsible for developing a standard look-and-feel to their pretty disparate global shows. I also ran its UK operation for less than a year before leaving – me and large companies never really worked out.
*Note: in Still Water and Gene Genie, the young CIA agent is called Mark Elliott, because the real one pestered me to be a character in them!