Mike Brown, retired EVP Finance - GES Exposition Services
Topic: Corporate Transitions
To survive and thrive, many companies turn to mergers, acquisitions and divestitures as a strategic response. Mike will discuss the tactical issues that must be embraced to ensure a smooth transition when two or more entities decide to join or part company.
Mike Brown, has twenty-five Years of Public Attestation Services with "Big Four" Accounting Firm, twelve Years of senior/excecuitive level accounting and financial expertise with a "Fortune 500" corporation (Viad/GES) and recently financial, accounting and related consulting services to a start-up North American group of subsidiaries of a UK-based Public company.
Perspective on the Viad Corp / GES:
Viad Corp is the successor company of The Greyhound Corporation that was incorporated in 1926. Viad has two major lines of business, place-based marketing (conventions, etc) and Travel/recreation (tours, park management). Greyhound’s first operations (transportation) began in 1914 in Hibbing, Minnesota and grew to be the largest bus company in the world, known as Greyhound Lines.
In the early 1960’s, the company began a diversification program through acquisitions:
In 1970, Armour and Company was acquired in a public offering, and the businesses of The Greyhound Corporation were further diversified. Armour was a major producer and marketer of food and consumer products, including Dial Soap. In 1985, the consumer products business of Armour was broadened with the acquisition of the Purex lines of products. Greyhound also diversified into the food service business. Just to mention a few, its Post Houses restaurants serviced bus passengers, and Greyhound Food Management supplied food services to plants and businesses. In 1990, after the sale of the bus business, the name was changed to Greyhound Dial Corporation and in 1991 became The Dial Corp.
GES expanded into the Pacific Northwest in 1991 through acquisitions in Seattle and Portland. By the end of 1992, GES was headquartered in Las Vegas with offices in most major west coast cities. At this point the company had 500 full-time employees. Recognizing the projected growth of the exhibition industry, GES decided to establish nationwide service. In May 1993, GES made the largest acquisition in its history, by purchasing United Exposition Service Company whose city operations included virtually every major convention market east of the Mississippi. With the United acquisition, Greyhound Exposition Services changed its name to GES Exposition Services to reflect "The New GES."
In October 1993, GES acquired Andrews, Bartlett & Associates a major regional contractor based in Hudson, Ohio and in November of the same year acquired Gelco Convention Services, based in Miami, enhancing the Orlando operation. During early 1995, GES expanded into Canada through the acquisition of Panex Show Services and Stampede Display and Convention Services, gaining offices in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton. By June of that year, Concept Convention Service had joined the GES family, with offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Albuquerque. GES acquired ESR Exposition Services in May 1998, one of New York City's leading exhibition and event contractors. That same year in June, GES also acquired Puliz of Utah, Inc., a noted exhibition and corporate events company with locations in Reno and Salt Lake City. In October 1998, Panex, Canada's largest exhibition and event-marketing company changed its name to GES CANADA Exposition Services Limited.
The company adopted the name Viad Corporation after the sale of the consumer products business in 1996. Today, Viad's services are classified into two reportable business segments, Convention and Event Services and Travel and Recreation Services.