Exhibitor Media Group Acquired by 30-Year Industry Veteran Mark Johnson

July 7, 2022

Mark Johnson, chairman and CEO of Minneapolis-based The STAR Groupe, has acquired leading trade show and corporate event marketing education company Exhibitor Media Group, publisher of the award-winning EXHIBITOR magazine and producer of EXHIBITORLIVE, the national conference and exhibition for trade show and corporate event marketers. 

As the founder of Star Exhibits and Environments in 1993, Johnson made a strategic decision following the COVID-19 pandemic to establish a holding company dedicated to serving the face-to-face marketing industry. 

“The trade show industry was significantly impacted by the pandemic, which nearly decimated a professional community I have proudly served for more than 30 years,” Johnson said. 

He added, “Knowing the important role EXHIBITOR plays in the industry, I wanted to ensure the entire face-to-face marketing community continues to have access to the unbiased content, education and expertise they need to create successful programs now and in the future.”

Besides EXHIBITOR and EXHIBITORLIVE, which ran June 20-23 in Las Vegas, Exhibitor Media Group also produces a range of professional learning events and platforms for industry connection and education, including the EXHIBITORFastTrak accelerated learning regional conferences; EXHIBITOR eTrak professional online learning, complimentary EXHIBITORInsight webinars and the industry’s only university-affiliated Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM) professional certification program

“The best way to honor our past is to continue providing the rich content and exclusive educational opportunities that have helped guide the professional transformation of the industry for the past 40 years,” said Travis Stanton, editor of EXHIBITOR magazine. “By fostering professional connection, exploring both trusted and new event-marketing strategies and highlighting our communities’ key learnings and successes, we are proud to contribute to the emergence of a vibrant new phase in event marketing.” 

He added, “While looking toward the future, we fully intend to build on the foundation of the company in a way that nurtures its roots and promotes new growth.”

According to Johnson, his first priority as new owner of the company will be to ensure a smooth transition for the EXHIBITOR team by focusing on the company’s people, benefits and culture. 

“Because of the unique role that EXHIBITOR plays in our industry, I intend to run it as a separate business and will not have ongoing operational responsibilities,” Johnson explained. “Once I am confident we have established a strong footing, I will turn the business over to a newly appointed CEO/president who will be accountable for running Exhibitor Media Group. 

He continued, “I am honored to now be a part of the EXHIBITOR legacy and look forward to watching the organization grow and evolve in the years to come. Long live the show!”

Johnson added that he plans to establish an advisory board comprising leaders across the globe to help the company identify and accommodate any unmet industry needs.

As far as the near future of plans with the show, he said EXHIBITORLIVE may not run in 2023, instead possibly partner with Euroshop, and then return to Las Vegas in 2024. 

“We want to move (the show) out of the the first quarter (overall),” Johnson added. 

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