Sports enthusiast, classic rock fan, family man, former president of an Alumni Chapter, and genuinely great guy, Chad Bozarth has recently joined CDI World USA as Account Exec. We caught up with him to talk about what makes him tick, and his plans for the future.
The last six months have been quite something for Chad, having celebrated a big birthday, moved jobs, and seen his daughter graduate (and apply for law schools). Having worked full tilt in his first three months at CDI World, Chad is off to take a well-earned break on a family holiday in Hawaii, where he will be celebrating his parents’ anniversary, his daughter’s graduation and his own birthday. We were lucky that he made time to catch up with us before setting off to the sunshine.
Chad, you are a recent addition to CDI’s Account Exec team, so we are excited to get to know you a bit better. You studied journalism and sports administration. How did you end up working in exhibitions and events?
It was one of those things that just kind of happened. I did my undergrad in broadcast journalism at the University of Missouri which has a pretty good reputation. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that as a 21 year old, I wasn’t very good on TV. (queue infectious laugh). When the bright lights came on, I wasn’t very good at the actual broadcast element. So, in my senior year I switched to sports information, which is basically PR for university athletic departments. I sent out a bunch of speculative resumes to unis around the state of Missouri and got offered a graduate assistantship at Eastern Illinois University. I never expected to go to graduate school, but it worked out well in the end. Then in ‘97 I got an internship in Atlanta with the American Jr Golf Association. The job was full-time in the non-profit sector and after a couple of years I decided that I wanted to get into the for-profit business.
Thanks to family connections, for a couple of years I attended the Super Show, a sporting goods trade show in Atlanta, which was a huge event and a big one for the industry. It was here that I witnessed the magical, chaotic, anything-goes world of trade shows, and I wanted in. I applied for a load of jobs, including one as account manager for a trade show design company; I got an interview and they called me up and said an account manager role might not play to my strengths, but they would love to offer me a sales post. I didn’t have any experience in sales or the trade show industry, but I picked it up and grew into the role. The rest is history!
And what a history it was! That post led you to another company, working with them for nearly 17 years. What was the catalyst for you to join CDI?
I really enjoyed the time at my old firm, but I got to a point where I wanted to see where else I could grow in terms of geographical reach and career. I started wanting to grow business in Atlanta and wanted to see what else is out there. Things have been really tough for the industry; I am hugely grateful for my job security in a time when great people I know are losing theirs, but I guess the events of the last years were a catalyst for me to actively be open to move, so I started having conversations and seeing what is out there.
We at CDI World are very pleased that you made that choice! What are you most excited about bringing to CDI World – and what are you looking forward to gaining?
When CDI brought me on, they were losing a seasoned salesperson. They have an abundance of house accounts, and I think that they saw in me the ability and experience to nurture those accounts. I am not your headhunter, ruthless type salesperson; to me, it is all about relationships. I love getting to know the clients and getting the best for them. I am really looking forward to taking the in-house accounts, getting to know them, quickly catch on to learn what they need, and see how we can deliver their expectations not just for now, but for the future.
As an account exec, you have seen your fair share of successes and challenges. What would you say is the single most important factor in creating a good sale or event?
I have to say that I think the biggest factor is listening to the clients and what their needs are and keeping them informed. If you listen to your clients, then you know what they need, but you can also pick up on their expectations as well as any misconceptions, especially when it comes to costs. It’s really important to give them transparency about costs, so you can keep them open to different budgeting needs and expectations. So, yes, communication and being able to give the grand scope of true costs is the most important aspect.
You have worked in the events and exhibitions industry for over 20 years. You must have seen some changes! Are there any trends that you see getting stronger in 2023?
Unfortunately, there are already signs of a flux economy. For 2023, I think more and more companies are focusing on cost reductions and downsizing in order to get through it, which means that budget is even more of a focus now than ever. And we need to be able to adapt to that.
This is the events and exhibitions industry, so the show must go on! How is the industry responding?
As account execs, it is our challenge to identify the problem and find solutions. As a reaction to the current financial climate, the focus is all on the budget. Instead of purchasing, we will advise renting or repurposing wherever possible. This is the era of being adaptable, so we will do what we can do adapt, survive and even thrive. After covid and shutdowns, the importance of live events was really emphasized, so we are not going to let budgeting stop us from doing great things.
I know CDI is pushing sustainability and clients are asking for that more and more, and actually being economical can help with that. It is great that we have real examples of more sustainable concepts that will save money, too; economy and sustainability can come hand in hand.
What is the proudest moment in your professional career?
Wow, there have been so many to choose from. I think that one of my favorite projects was working with a client who wanted an internal build that incorporated a full demo of all their different capabilities. That focus quickly transitioned from internal build, to needing assistance for a National Sales meeting 6 weeks later! We had initial conversations about the sales event in late December, and the event was scheduled for early February.
I immediately understood what they wanted to achieve, and one aspect was a “mini” tradeshow; it was our job to design, build and create the entire thing. Their tradeshow was in a ballroom and had a faux food truck and dog wash area, a restaurant setting, and a whole range of different environments to demonstrate the client’s different payment applications. And everything had to be set up and dismantled with 12 to 20-hour turnarounds for other meeting needs. There were a couple of late nights, and it was hard work, but the client loved it.
It’s truly remarkable to go into a bare concrete convention center at the beginning of an event. All these things are brought in, and in a matter of days the space becomes a small city, which is there for a few days, and then just gone again.
What you do is packed with variety, time pressures and quite a lot of stress. You seem pretty laid back about it all, but what do you do to relax?
I think my overall personality is what helps in stressful situations. I don’t yell, I can get along with everyone; I am just always thinking in my head about the next steps and getting to the end of the show.
I try going to the gym, enjoy long walks with my airpods in. I’m big into sports and still love to follow the University of Missouri athletic teams. I have been active in the Atlanta Alumni Association and was President for a few years. That was fun, we re-introduced football watch parties which brought alumni activity from nearly zero to weekly watch parties with 20+, and other events outside of sports, such as tour of the CDC to various volunteering trips. The thing I am proudest of is that I started a scholarship endowment. We needed to raise $25,000 and I set a 5-year goal, but we achieved it in three. Every year, thanks to those efforts, there is a student from Atlanta going to the University of Missouri University with a little support by that scholarship.
You mentioned your airpods; what do you listen to? Are you a music man or more of a podcast or audiobook guy?
I love music, especially classic rock, ‘70s stuff, ‘90s alternative, Pearl Jam, etc. If I could only listen to one band forever, it would probably be Dave Matthews Band. They have the variety; they are not as hardcore as some of the grunge bands. Plus, I have been to see them in concert five times.
Now for the question that we ask everyone! If CDI-World offered to fund and manufacture a personal, ‘passion project’ of yours (such as an original interior or exhibit) what would the project be and what might be your creative approach and why?
As you can tell I am a huge University of Missouri fan. Many years ago, they had an RFP to build out a new athletic center. Something like that – something sports related would be amazing for me. I am also a Kansas City Chiefs fan so something like that would be incredible – like an event tied to the Super Bowl, especially if the Chiefs were playing.
Thanks so much, Chad, it has been fantastic to meet you and we can’t wait to follow you over the coming months.
I have only been with CDI World for three months, but I am excited for the future. I came aboard to help house accounts but if given the opportunity through my connections I would love the opportunity to bring on new opportunities to grow business in Atlanta. As you know, I am all about connections, so when someone reaches out to me weeks or even months after I have met them on the trade show floor, it gives me a real buzz. I welcome new connections!
Meet the other member of CDI World who we’ve featured