Bob Priest-Heck Elevated to COO; Will Also Soon Succeed John O’Connell as President

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Dallas, TX – Robert Priest-Heck was named the next president and COO of Freeman Companies and will assume the two offices on separate dates between this Summer and 2014. Priest-Heck, currently chief sales officer for Freeman, will become COO August 1, reporting to CEO Joe Popolo and current president John O’Connell. He will take over as president sometime next year when O’Connell retires, the company announced.

Popolo said the succession plan was in line with Freeman’s philosophy of grooming top-tier executives over the long haul. “This thoughtful, long-range approach has enabled us to build up our management team with strong leaders like John and Bob,” he said.

Priest-Heck has a long history in the trade show industry. He was president and CEO of MediaLive International, Inc., where he worked with such media brands as Interop, COMDEXSeybold Seminars and Web 2.0. He has also held senior executive positions at Ziff-Davis and SOFTBANK Expos and held various positions with Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Priest-Heck joined Freeman in 2011 while president and CEO of Immersa Marketing and Wheelhouse Solutions, which were acquired by Freeman.

As only the fifth president in Freeman’s 86-year history, Priest-Heck will oversee Freeman’s exposition business as well as the FreemanXP and Freeman AV units.

When O’Connell retires, it will cap his 25+ year career with Freeman. He was in charge of several of Freeman’s largest shows including the New York International Auto Show and the Boston Seafood Show.

“John helped guide our company through both challenging times and exciting opportunities,” said Popolo. ‘We are all incredibly grateful for John’s many contributions to our clients, our employees and our company and look forward to benefitting from John’s leadership as a member of our Board of Directors.”

Reach Bob Priest-Heck at (214) 445-1234 or bph@freemanco.com; John O’Connell at (781) 380-7550