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Industry Veterans


AuthorA few weeks back I was in the Tampa area for a day (literally 25 hours) and had the pleasure of seeing two industry vets that I have known for many many years.

First, was a long time friend and eight year employee of Optima, Tony Ricci. Many of you know that Tony hung up his frequent flyer card in exchange for his own pillow every night of the week and is running a Biz Dev effort at ADM2 in the Tampa area. Not everyone knows some of the behind the scenes workings between Tony and I, but I would best describe us more like 10 year old brothers. We agree on 98% of everything – most days is really 100%, but while working together were known to get a bit scrappy with each other with me loosing my temper on occasion. I don’t really ever get angry, but Tony had a magical gift to reach across the table and press my start button and I believe I did the same to him.   Silly kid stuff aside, I could not have been happier to see his enthusiasm for his new role and learning of some of the success he has had in the past 5-6 months. He has hit some really nice sales and I found his description of some of his wins fascinating. He shared with me some of what he has learned about printing and graphics post Optima and in short it made me feel really good about the behind the scenes work our team does. I am not implying that he has learned anything negative, but he shared experiences with dealing with end clients who thought ok was ok, but in reality their expectations were very very high and his background knowledge really served him well. Keep it up Tony and I hope the Pizza truck dream comes through. I think I want to visit and get free pizza, but your passion for cooking and customer service are amazing.

AuthorThe second person I visited and the one who triggered this blog idea is John Crawford. I first met John circa 1992 and he was the guy that knew everyone in the industry, knew his product line backwards and forwards, and man alive could he tell a story. I stopped and saw John, his son Bryan, and team prior to heading to the airport. John, the consummate host, pointed out a few things to me that I had not noticed before. I snapped a photo of the Crawford / Expo holiday wrangler and I believe John said this photo was taken in 1971. Forgive me if I am wrong, but black and white photo screams from an age gone by. For those of you that don’t know John, he is very distinctive with his ever present handle bar mustache, quick wit, and generous heart. I had one of our AE’s with me, Sidney Clark, and they had never met before. John went out of his way to share a few pearls of wisdom about the industry, company he has gone to work for, and about life. Thank you John – your generosity is well appreciated.

AuthorSpending time with Tony and John (I will not even go into seeing Bill Dorf – been way too long since we shot the breeze) made me reflect a bit upon all the people and some tremendous personalities that I have been fortunate to meet over the years. Men and women who have not just looked at the Exhibit / Face-to-face marketing world as a job, but dare I sound super corny and say a passion – possibly a conviction. A common thread I always see in folks like them who are all over the country is a phenomenal drive to please. A true desire to provide a flawless customer experience and when you consider we are in an industry of uber high expectation and last minute changes. I believe it was Tony who said – every working adult knows they have to iron a shirt, even touch it up after traveling, but are shocked that a fabric graphic might wrinkle. Thanks and kudos to all the veteran characters out there – I look forward to seeing more of you as ’16 rolls on down the line.

About the Author

Dave Brown is the Vice President of Sales at Optima™.
He has been in the Trade Show industry since the early 90s.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, other Authors, Optima Graphics or Taylor Corp.

  1. Gary Camarato
    February 12, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I always enjoy visiting with John and Bryan Crawford!

  2. February 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Nice story on these guys Dave!

    • February 16, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Thank you. A really enjoyable part of the job to see folks like this!

  3. Kevin
    February 16, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Keep it up Tony, I wish you continued success.

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