This Just In

GES to Maintain Present Course after Departure of President John Jastrem


Las Vegas, NV – The sudden retirement of John Jastrem as president of Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES) will not mean any equally unexpected surprises for the company’s customers. GES announced March 22 that Jastrem had decided to step down from the position he stepped into eight months  earlier. Paul Dykstra, the chairman, president and CEO of GES’ parent company, Viad Corp., will temporarily assume Jastrem’s responsibilities while a replacement is sought.

Jastrem said in a written statement that his tenure with Viad had been “a great experience” and he thanked the company’s employees for their work in revitalizing Viad’s Exhibitgroup/Giltspur subsidiary and creating the combined GES organization.

Dykstra told Trade Show Executive that  Jastrem had gotten GES off to a “good start” as the umbrella brand for GES Exposition Services, Exhibitgroup/Giltspur and the Becker Group. “We asked him to focus on bringing our various companies together,” Dykstra said. “We’ve made a lot of progress along those lines. We now have them under one entity and re-branded with the GES brand.”

Jastrem will serve as a consultant while GES searches for a new president and then transitions the new executive into office. Dykstra told Trade Show Executive that no other changes in the management staff were expected, and GES’ headquarters would remain in Las Vegas.

Inside and Outside Search
The search for candidates inside and outside GES will target someone who is adept at managing a large company that is highly customer-centric  and offers a broad range of services. “With the combination of the two organizations (GES and Exhibitgroup/Giltspur), we have brought together the strengths of several of our companies:  everything from high-end creative design to our ability to very efficiently set up shows and dismantle them,” Dykstra said. “It requires a combination of many skills. We will be looking for someone who has a client-centric focus and can keep these initiatives going.”

Major Changes in Last Decade
Dykstra said GES had changed along with the trade show industry in the period following his stint as GES president from 2000 to 2006. “The economy has impacted the exposition industry in a major way since 2006,” he said. “Clients are focused even more on return-on-investment (ROI), so we have to find ways to create and deliver higher value.”

Meeting those new demands spurred the consolidation of Viad’s services under GES and also brought Jastrem, who was president and CEO of Exhibitgroup/Giltspur, into the executive suite of GES in July 2009. “Our organization has changed a lot since then,” Dykstra said.

Reach Paul Dykstra at (602) 207-4000 or