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SouthComm, Inc. Acquires Security, Fire Safety Shows


Nashville, TN – SouthComm, Inc. has acquired seven trade shows, 11 publications and seven related web sites from Cygnus Business Media November 2. SouthComm was the winning bidder among several offers by other strategic and financial buyers.

SouthComm was formed in late 2007 and operates a diverse portfolio of print and online properties as well as several local and regional events.  Its portfolio of specialty newspapers includes business papers, alternative weeklies and medical news in Nashville, Washington, Atlanta, and other major cities in the South and Midwest. “We are excited to add these (Cygnus) groups to the SouthComm portfolio of businesses and to continue to provide leading content to the audiences served by these well-known brands,” said Chris Ferrell, founder and CEO of SouthComm.

Terms of the sale were not released. Ferrell said the transaction nearly doubles the headcount at SouthComm and moves the company into the B-to-B space in a major way. The Nashville Post, which is owned by SouthComm, reported that all of the employees of Wisconsin-based Cygnus would keep their jobs.

Cygnus has been in a downsizing mode since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. It sold off four of its sector affinity groups in the past 15 months. Its EMS World was ranked in the Trade Show Executive Fastest 50 thanks to a 27.8% increase in attendance in 2013. That show included 80,900 net square feet of exhibit space.

“This acquisition is a natural extension of SouthComm’s publishing business,” said Nick Curci, president of Corporate Solutions, LLC, which advised Cygnus in the SouthComm deal and its four previous sales transactions.

Cygnus has been struggling to navigate the changing media environment for the past several years. The company, which was formed in 1996, went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy briefly in 2009. It soon emerged with former Penton CEO John French as its new CEO.

French reorganized Cygnus’ assets into four affinity groups, a move aimed at shoring up its position within various industry sectors. The strategy also made it easier to market the affinity groups to potential buyers.

The Cygnus agriculture group, including its farm shows, was sold last year to the American Farm Bureau. Its heavy construction and law enforcement and public safety assets were placed on the block earlier this year. The Heavy Construction Group includes National Pavement Expo, and was sold for an undisclosed sum in August to AC Business Media, Inc., a partnership of Cygnus employees from the Heavy Construction Group. Remaining assets at Cygnus include exhibitions, publications and web sites serving the Aviation, Landscape, CPA, Facilities, Automatic Merchandising and Printing sectors.

French said his staff has known for some time that the stripped-down Cygnus would eventually be sold and had “worked hard to turn its properties into multi-platform industry leading brands.”

“With this sale today, we take another step toward that ultimate goal,” French said.

The acquisition consisted of these assets:

Trade Shows

  • Firehouse Expo
  • Firehouse World Expo
  • EMS World Expo
  • EMS Redline
  • EMS on the Hill
  • Officer World
  • Secured Cities


  • Firehouse
  • EMS World
  • Law Enforcement Product News
  • Law Enforcement Technology
  • Locksmith Ledger
  • Security Dealer & Integrator
  • Security Technology Executive
  • Fleet Maintenance
  • Professional Tool & Equipment News
  • Professional Distributor
  • Mass Transit




Reach John French at (800) 547-7377 or; Chris Ferrell at (615) 244-7989 or; Nick Curci at (203) 226-4040 or

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