NEPC celebrating 10th expo anniversary
by Tad Thompson | April 06, 2010
The 10th anniversary show of the New England Produce Council will carry the
patriotic theme of Stars & Stripes, according to Laura Sullivan, executive
director of the council, which is based in Burlington, MA.
The 2010 NEPC Produce & Floral Expo will be held April 14 in Boston's Hynes
Convention Center. Set-up for show exhibitors will be April 13, and there is a
pre-event cocktail party for exhibitors and invited guests on the evening of
Ms. Sullivan said that the convention committee chose to put an
entertainment focus on the keynote speaker this year. Thus comedian Lenny
Clarke will address the crowd's opening breakfast. Mr. Clarke has appeared
on national television shows and "is very well known in the New England
area," according to Ms. Sullivan. The opening breakfast will be held at
Boston's Sheraton Hotel.
This year the show will continue the Career Pathways program that the
council conducts in cooperation with the Produce Marketing Association. Ms.
Sullivan explained that eight students from the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst and the University of Maine are part of the 2010 Career Pathways
program. The students will "team up with different retailers to mentor them
while at the show." Ms. Sullivan noted that this year Career Pathways is
sponsored by Coast to Coast Produce LLC, which is based in Cheshire, CT.
The sponsorship is in memory of Peter Sticco, the founder of Coast to Coast,
who died in September 2008. On the morning of the expo, a video clip about
Mr. Sticco and "his dedication to the produce industry" will be shown.
A floral display contest is being conducted in conjunction with the event
again this year. Floral design contest awards will be presented on the
morning of April 14.
The expo floor will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. As of March 29, 228
booths had been sold, "and I'm pretty certain we'll have 230 this year," said
Ms. Sullivan. "That is up from last year. We are expecting great attendance
from all retailers. Some will come from the New York-New Jersey area, and all
the New England retailers" will be in attendance.
"Our celebrity this year is Tedy Bruschi," Ms. Sullivan said. Mr. Bruschi will be
on the show floor from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. to sign autographs. A member of
three Super Bowl winning teams, Mr. Bruschi was the longest-tenured player
for the New England Patriots until this year's retirement. Mr. Bruschi was
drafted by the Patriots in 1996 and, as a middle linebacker, was an integral
part of the team's defense throughout his career, according to the NEPC
Ms. Sullivan said that the NEPC expo "works well for some of the smaller
companies that can't afford to go to larger shows to showcase their products.
This gives vendors an opportunity to get up close and personal with New
England and area buyers. At a regional show, they can have more face time
with these particular buyers. That is the essence of it."
Asked if the show might outgrow its current and attractive level of intimacy,
she replied, "The only thing I'd say is that we may have to extend the show
hours. But the constant response from exhibitors is to keep the exhibit as a
one-day show. They like to come, do their business and leave. They may
come before the show or leave later to have meetings, but they like the
format of a one-day show -- and one day to set up. The constant feedback I
get is that they like that. It helps keep their cost down. In comparison [to]
other shows, we're relatively inexpensive. We've not raised our price, ever.
That makes it feasible and makes it a great event."