Washington, DC –Jim Bracken will retire in March from Nielsen Expositions after nearly 30 years in the exhibition industry. He is a former chairman of VNU Expositions and until recently, was group show director for Nielsen’s trio of military trade shows: Modern Day Marine; Marine West; and Marine South.
Bracken spent 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired as a colonel. He served two tours as an officer in Vietnam and was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
After retiring from the service, Bracken worked for and then bought out Capital Convention and Exhibit Company, which produced Modern Day Marine. The company was eventually acquired by VNU, which later was rebranded as Nielsen in 2007.
“Jim played a big part in the growth and development of not only Nielsen Expositions with its military expos but also with its predecessor companies, Bill Communications and VNU,” said David Loechner, president of Nielsen Expositions. “I know I speak for so many who have worked with him throughout the years: he is an inspiring and consummate professional, and a natural leader.”
Bracken didn’t use his new career as an opportunity to merely keep busy; instead, he treated it as another calling. “I was able to see him in action close up,” Loechner told Trade Show Executive (TSE). “Not only does he greatly value personal relationships with so many in the industry, but he loves the art of negotiation and feeds off every booth sale. We will certainly miss him and wish him much happiness in retirement.”
“After a full career as a Marine Corps officer, he entered our industry not knowing anyone or even much about the business,” said Richard Simon, USMC veteran and president and CEO of United Service Companies, the parent company of Trade Show Executive. “But he came armed with charm, wit and a 50-caliber smile. He started a second career and ascended to the top of his newly merged company. He was soon was recognized as an industry leader and sought after for his advice.”
Bracken was the first president of the newly formed VNU trade show division from 1993-2001 and its chairman until 2004. He remained with the military shows in a reduced capacity in recent years and has been active in organizations for ex-Marines.
Bracken has been a familiar face around the overall industry, where many of his friends and colleagues address him as “Colonel.” He was chairman of the Society of Independent Show Organizers in 2003 and a frequent speaker at industry events.
“From the first moment I met Jim Bracken, I felt like I should salute instead of shake hands,” said Doug Ducate, president and CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. “And today I salute the many fine contributions he has made to this industry and wish he and his wife Judy, all the best.”
Bracken did not announce his immediate plans for the future, but his colleagues doubted he would disappear from sight. “We all look forward to see what Jim’s next step in the trade show industry will be as Jim is not the retiring type,” said Simon.
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