DALLAS – July 18, 2013 – Freeman, the leading global partner for integrated marketing solutions for live engagements, today announced that Chief Sales Officer, Bob Priest-Heck, will succeed John O’Connell, Freeman’s current President, as President and Chief Operating Officer of Freeman following O’Connell’s retirement from the company in 2014. With this move, Priest-Heck will become Freeman’s fifth President in the company’s 86-year history.
Freeman has developed a phased plan to ensure a seamless transition of leadership. Beginning August 1, Priest-Heck will assume the role of COO of Freeman, reporting to both O’Connell and CEO, Joe Popolo. When O’Connell retires on June 30, 2014, Priest-Heck will take on the role of President of the Freeman Companies, overseeing Freeman’s Exposition business, as well as Freeman AV and FreemanXP.
“As a family and employee-owned business, we take great care to ensure that our leaders reflect our company values of integrity, empathy, innovation, enthusiasm and performance excellence. This thoughtful, long-range approach has enabled us to build our management team with strong leaders like John and Bob, whom our customers and employee-owners can count on to be with us for the long haul,” said Popolo.
Prior to joining Freeman, Priest-Heck served as President and CEO of both Immersa Marketing and Wheelhouse Solutions, which Freeman acquired in 2011. He also brings important experience as a former Freeman client, and through previous executive-level roles in the industry including serving as President and CEO of MediaLive International Inc., where he worked with such media brands as Interop, Business Communications Review Magazine, COMDEX, Seybold Seminars and Publishing, and Web 2.0. He was also Vice President, International Operations at SOFTBANK Expos; Executive Vice President of Operations for Ziff-Davis; and held various positions with Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
Priest-Heck is also a board member for the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).
“Bob has a proven track record of bringing together strategic, collaborative and high-performing teams,” said O’Connell. “I’m confident that Bob’s passion and expertise uniquely position him to lead the Freeman team as we continue to not only grow and expand our business but also deepen our relationships with our valued clients.”
Throughout his more than 25-year career with Freeman, O’Connell focused much of his work on delivering high-quality, high-touch customer service to each and every Freeman client. He also personally produced several of Freeman’s largest shows including the New York International Auto Show and the Boston Seafood Show.
“John is an outstanding leader. He helped guide our company through both challenging times and exciting opportunities,” said Popolo. ‘We are all incredibly grateful for John’s many contributions to our clients, our employees and our company throughout his distinguished tenure with Freeman and look forward to benefiting from John’s leadership as a member of our Board of Directors.”