It’s only been a week but Penton Group President Fred Linder was gracious in answering five questions on the future of the World Tea Expo and its ancillary business ventures. Linder will oversee World Tea Expo as part of Penton Exhibition Services which supports more than 100 events across five sectors. Linder also runs the company’s New Hope Network.
Penton is a large business-to-business publishing company based in New York. It’s flagship tradeshows include Natural Products Expo (West and East) and the Multi-Unit Food Service Operators Conference. The company also publishes Nation’s Restaurant News, Natural Foods Merchandiser and Supermarket News.
In announcing the acquisition Linder retained the core team that includes Event Manager Samantha Hammer Mitchell, Education Program Manager Monique Hatchett, Customer Service Manager Edie Gillette and Tea Academy Director of Online Education Donna Fellman. Hammer Mitchell is a former Penton event manager. Click here for details of the sale.
Tea Biz: Mr. Linder please share your vision for World Tea Expo and its ancillary educational program, competitions, industry awards and newsletter.
Linder: It’s a bit too soon for me to articulate a strategy for the individual part of the business.
We bought World Tea Media because we like the Tea category and we feel that we can help the industry grow as we have proven in other Food sectors, most notably in the Natural Products industry.
I also think that World Tea Expo is a better fit inside of Penton. We will work with the leadership within the Tea group to evaluate what is working and what may need improvement.
Tea Biz: The tea community wryly observes “there are beverages, and there is tea. They are not the same thing.” During recent years the Expo floor was opened to many classes of beverages from artichoke, coconut and vitamin water to liquid herbal supplements. Will that continue?
Linder: Again, that will be determined in conjunction with the Tea leadership team. From a very general point of view, I am not a fan of diluting, but I also don’t think it’s an all or nothing approach. We have an excellent track record in other industries of making sure that attendees and exhibitors have an authentic experience that is aligned with their and the industry’s expectations, while still allowing for growth and innovation. Authenticity is key.
Tea Biz: The Expo is noted for an exceptional educational program seen by industry veterans as catering mainly to those who want to get into the business. What will Penton do to entice the best and brightest veteran retailers, wholesalers and exporters to attend and share their insights and expertise both from the podium and casually on the exhibition floor? Vendors realized more sales and bigger sales in the past. Attracting premium buyers to the event is the tide that lifts all boats. How will Penton draw quality buyers to the event?
Linder: We have an excellent database across Penton and deep experience with education, most notably, for innovators and entrepreneurs. In addition, our marketing capabilities are second to none. By combining these disciplines with the expertise within the Tea team we will create a winning formula for growth in both quality and quantity. Ultimately, the success of any show is about the right attendees having the right conversations with the right exhibitors through a mix of networking and a vibrant education program.
Tea Biz: Will Penton through its North American Tea Competition take a leadership role in defining and advancing standards for specialty tea?
Linder: At this point I don’t know enough to answer this question. We did have standards programs in other businesses so we are experienced in the mechanics of what that could look like, but what Penton’s role in that might be is an unknown to me at this time.
I will say that although we have owned the business for only a week, I am really impressed by the staff and their enthusiasm and passion for the business and the industry. I will rely on their expertise and guidance a lot on where and how Penton will best fit into aid and abet in the growth of the category.
There’s much to learn, but through our broad experience with education, content trade shows, combined with an understanding of the food and food retailing sectors it will be a very exciting time for all of us. I am very bullish on the future.
Fredrik M. Linder is an expert in natural products and the health and wellness arena and has a passion for the industry and its mission. Fred’s industry relationships are deep, which allows him to understand where all of the companies and products fit together, how they are trending and gives him direct access to the top leaders in the industry who look to him as a sounding board. He was instrumental in the development of Penton’s data and insight products for the natural products industry. Fred also runs Penton Event Services supporting all Penton best in class events. In addition, Fred is responsible for Club Industry, LDI and the newly acquired World Tea Media assets. Fred serves on several boards including SISO and the Company Council of IADSA (International Alliance for Dietary Supplement Associations). In the past he served on the boards of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, The Coalition to Preserve DSHEA, Bastyr University, and The Dietary Supplement Education Alliance. In addition to New Hope and the Penton Exhibitions Services team, Fred oversees Club Industry and Live Design. Prior, he was employed with Meredith Corporation, Capital Cities/ABC and Universal Media.
Fredrik M. Linder
Group President, Lifestyle & Penton Exhibition Services
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