You know the old saying, “When it rains it pours?” Well, I can definitely say that this statement hit home for me at the SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo. On March 31, 2011, in Lakeland, FL, the grounds of my client’s show were hit by an F1 tornado causing extreme damage.

The destruction included 50 exhibits and more than 50 privately-owned aircrafts. Now, I’m not talking minimal damage, the aircrafts were totally destroyed and unable to be fixed. Not to mention the large number of tents and other temporary structures that were severely damaged; we had a dire situation on our hands.

Thankfully, all clients, spectators and GES employees were uninjured - (15 people were treated for minor injuries at the on-site medical hospitality center). After the storm had ravaged its way through the show, the GES team met with show management to determine a plan of action, making the bold decision to open the show the next day.

How did we know that we could reopen in less than 24 hours? As the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Our team immediately began working with exhibitors to clean up what was left of their exhibits. Next, we brought in large forklifts and picked up buildings and trailers that were tipped over, and overnight we cleaned up the grounds. With great communication, a shared goal, the right equipment and relentless teamwork, the show opened that following morning. This wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of exhibitors, GES’ Orlando team and show management.

President and Convention Chairman, John Burton, followed up with a letter saying, “The GES team did a remarkable job helping in getting the Fly-In back up and running by 8 a.m. the next day.” He elaborated by explaining, “Many said it couldn’t be done, but our common commitment and purpose made it happen.”

As I write this, I’m reminded of the recent natural disasters across the South. They have been devastated, and pulled together with a shared goal, relentless teamwork and the thoughts, prayers and assistance of people from across our country.

Defying convention is a lot more than a couple of words to me. It’s my motto of excellence and what I strive to do each day.

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