The IFES Federation was led to creation by Roger Taurant from France in 1984. It was Roger Taurant’s idea to unite exhibit supplier associations from different countries to discuss and share their differences when exhibiting outside of their country of origin. The intent of the federations was to share knowledge under a global umbrella. Roger was the first president of IFES (3 years). Rainer Winnen/Germany was the second and served two- 3 year terms-1988-1994. Winnen should be credited for creating structure and helping the Federation to grow.
Note that a Federation is a group of Associations. In the beginning, each country established an active exhibit service industry association for their country. As a member, each association assigned a person to represent their country association at IFES. The first meeting to discuss the IFES concept was scheduled for October 1984 consisted of six country exhibit supplier Associations — – France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Great Britain. For this first meeting in Paris, BECCA from the UK decided not to participate here but did join with the final group. The IFES Federation was then officially created shortly after in 1985 with France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Great Britain, and Italy. Switzerland officially joined in 1997 with a nudge from Leslie Zech to then make IFES seven county members.
From 1994-1998 both Koen Bogaert/ Belgium and Paul van der Meer/Netherlands worked closely together to grow the IFES spirit and purpose. They created the first IFES Guidebook for members in 1995. Both were superb diplomats and excellent listeners regarding country member concerns and motives. Their understanding and vision for what IFES could be helped to create what IFES now is. Their leadership was most powerful at a time when every country had their own ways to view things. 37 years later, they both continue to share their thoughts and guidance to encourage the IFES concept.
Over the next 15 years, Denmark, Austria, Spain,Czech Republic, and USA joined as association members. Later Lithuania, Greece, Romania, Turkey, Portugal, UK, Poland, and Russia also joined. IFES had seven different association management teams before Uta Goretzky and team were selected to lead 27 years later. Budget
concerns were always an issue for IFES to thrive.
In 1998, Paulo Plotini was elected president. He helped to create an IFES international exhibit designer exchange program (IDEP) to offer designers first hand experiences when designing internationally. In 2000, Leslie Zech took over as IFES president. As IFES Vice President Leslie served as the Chair of the Marketing Committee. With his own money, he created the first internet portal to feature IFES and benefits offered. After his term as president, he chaired the IFES Membership Committee which Voicu took over as IFES Vice President in 2012. Leslie was most influential to attract Eastern European countries to join IFES. He persuaded Lithuania,
Romania, Russia, Greece, and Czech Republic each to join. Leslie helped to organize the AGM’s in Vilnius, Lithuania and Moscow. He also organized the World Summit AGM meeting in Vienna 2015. This Vienna AGM began a trend to project IFES as professional meeting planners compared to the low budget meetings and presentations IFES conducted at AGM’s in the past. IFES has arrived!
In 2002 Holgar Nicolaysen from Denmark was elected IFES President. Holger led the transition to move IFES Association management in Brussels to FAMAB in Germany. IFES was floundering with its budget and was in need of professional help. Holgar presented IFES as user friendly among all global members. He traveled many times to present the value of IFES membership to EDPA at their conferences in the USA. His warm and engaging style encouraged EDPA to strongly see the true value in IFES membership.
The USA joined IFES in 1991. EDPA president (Ingrid Boyd) was the first US representative at IFES. Larry Kulchawik and Dalton Jenkins joined to represent EDPA at IFES meetings in Europe after Ingrid Boyd from 1991-2001. Larry Kulchawik was asked to be president at the IFES/EDPA joint meeting held with EDPA in Miami, FL.-USA – 2000. A formal vote by the IFES membership was conducted in Copenhagen 2001 and was elected. Kulchawik went on to serve as the first IFES president from the USA in 2004-2006. As president, Kulchawik changed IFES management once again back to Brussels with Kellen Group. Full time management was now required. It was at the annual IFES AGM in London 2005 that IFES convinced AEC, a new UK association to join IFES. In 2007 BECA and AEC merged to become ESSA. ESSA quit, and again rejoined IFES as a member in 2010. After the 2005 AGM, all members attended The Exhibiting Show at the new Excel Center in London. In 2005 IFES also participated at Euroshop with a group stand which served to feature the IFES mission and to convince new countries to join. IFES was now being viewed as an industry
uniter with much to offer.
During Larry Kulchawik’s term as president, IFES pushed to attract more country associations to join beyond Europe and North America. It was an IFES desire to be truly represented worldwide with trusted supplier resources to reach out to globally. In 2006 an IFES Partnership Guide was published listing (24) country members and association members.
Jose Maria Perez de Olacoechea/Spain followed Larry Kulchawik as president and formally introduced the concept of independent exhibit companies to qualify as IFES members, as well as the country associations. To do so, the by-laws were revised to now allow independent companies, along with the associations, to be members. This new IFES change was introduced when Moreno Zaccarelli served as president in 2008. With this change came many new country members who did not have an association within their countries, especially for Asia, Latin America, and Middle East. Moreno helped to stabilize this concept. All IFES members needed trusted partners worldwide to call upon for projects outside of their country of origin. This proved to be a powerful added service for the exhibitors that the IFES members were representing globally. The IFES By-laws were changed to include individual companies as well as country associations as members. With this, membership grew and in 2010 the new IFES president, Bruno Meissner was elected president in 2010 and initiated the IFES Education Committee with Horst Tondasch and Marco Alvarez to add
further value to IFES membership. He and board member Torsten Heinze also created an IFES Code of Conduct document that asked each new member to sign in agreement after they were fully vetted by IFES. The new member application required that new members be sponsored by an IFES member and be proven to be fully qualified to service other members within their country.
Also during Bruno’s term, IFES became a member of UFI. Koen and Cucho laid the groundwork for IFES involvement with UFI in 2006 when Vincent Gérard was UFI managing director. UFI asked IFES to make a sustainability presentation at an UFI meeting in 2008. Jose Maria Perez de Olacoechea and Sophie Chénel conducted the presentation. In 2011 IFES again participated at Euroshop and conducted its AGM in Oxford, England where UFI representative Dr. Andreas Winckler gave a presentation on operational exhibition issues in the world.
A few months later, IFES met in Ghent, Belgium attended by the new UFI managing director Paul Woodward. IFES president Bruno Meissner and Koen Bogaert then met with Paul Woodward to discuss the relationship between IFES and UFI. In Sept 2012, Bruno Meissner was asked to make a presentation about IFES to the UFI membership committee and IFES was accepted as a new UFI member. Bruno was then asked to be a member of the UFI Operations and Services Committee bringing IFES “eye level” with other industry associations like IELA. This was a major step for IFES being recognized as a contributing industry leader! Bruno Meissner served two – 2 year terms to provide consistency and pave the way for many changes that were underway. His dedication and leadership truly helped to hold things together as IFES was also deciding to change its association management once again.
In 2014 Voicu Sferdianu from Romania was elected as the new IFES president. Voicu inherited financial instability with IFES association management. IFES was now growing in the fast lane with a limited budget and needed full time management. He and the IFES presidium led the way to select Uta Goretzky and her team in 2015. Voicu worked closely with the new association management team to quickly established procedures, professionalism, and financial stability for the now fast growing Federation.Through these years, IFES conducted its AGM in different countries to spread the IFES mission – Moscow, Shanghai, South Africa, India, Turkey, Athens, Montpellier, and Chicago. Voicu went on to also serve 2- two years terms as president. This added term in office provided steady leadership when needed most. During this period, Peter Theodorides was selected as Vice President to work closely as a wingman with Voicu. This additional 2 years of experience allowed Peter to fully appreciate the challenges that IFES was facing and prepared him to be a solid President in 2018. As Vice President, Peter helped to grow the IFES brand with effective marketing applications, an upgraded website, group stand participation at ExhibitorLive, and the creation of Worldview with the IFES marketing team. IFES was now being perceived worldwide as an industry leader. Peter Theodorides from Greece took over as president in 2018 with experience and a warm leadership style. He effectively presented the value of IFES membership to the industry and to the industry associations.
In 2020 Justin Hawes from South Africa was elected as IFES president. Justin allowed IFES to take a giant step to represent the world of trade show and event marketing by adding Africa. Justin served on the IFES board for six years as Treasurer when Voicu and Peter served as presidents. His experience with financial matters was appreciated during the go-go years of IFES growth where budget concerns were a major issue. This experience certainly prepared him to fully deal with the challenges of a
growing association. His awareness of the growing new world of exposition location differences, beyond Europe and the US, came at the right time. His unbiased opinions brought forth a fresh way of thinking. Add to this his understanding of covid related changes globally that all IFES members must now adjust to going forward. Sharing Knowledge is now more valuable than ever.
The vision of Sharing Knowledge between countries allows IFES members to better assist the clients (exhibitors) that they represent at international trade shows and events. The statement- Sharing Knowledge was created by past President Paul Van der Meer in 1996 and continues as a simple and accurate Mission Statement for IFES.
IFES now represents members from 46 different countries with a professional association management team led by Uta Goretzky. We have come a long way!
IFES Past- Presidents-
France Roger Taurant 1985-1988 (3 years)
Germany Rainer Winnen 1988-1994 (6 years)
Belgium Koen Bogaert 1994-1996 (2 years)
Netherlands Paul van der Meer 1996-1998 (2 years)
Italy Paolo Plotini 1998-2000 (2 years)
Austria Leslie Zech 2000-2002 (2 years)
Denmark Holger Nicolaysen 2002-2004 (2 years)
USA Larry Kulchawik 2004-2006 (2 years)
Spain Jose Maria Perez de Olacoechea 2006-2008 (2 years)
Italy Moreno Zaccarelli 2008-2010 (2 years)
Germany Bruno Meissner 2010- 2014 (4 years)
Romania Voicu Sferdianu 2014- 2018 (4 years)
Greece Peter Theodorides 2018-2020 (2 years)
S.Africa Justin Hawes 2020-