People should not expect big changes in five of Florida’s largest boat and yacht shows despite the sale of their producer, Show Management, to London-based Informa.
That’s the word from retiring Show Management CEO Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III and Informa global exhibitions division chief executive Charlie McCurdy. The two spoke about the sale on March 2, the day it was announced.
Show Management produces the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Palm Beach International Boat Show, the Suncoast Boat Show, the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show and Yachts Miami Beach.
Informa purchased Show Management from Active Interest Media as part of its plan to expand its exhibition business in the United States. The company, which delivers 200 industry events annually, including the Monaco Yacht Show, becomes one of the largest yacht and boat show organizers in the world with the Show Management acquisition.
Zimbalist announced his retirement, concurrent with the sale, although he retains the role of non-executive chairman of parent company Active Interest Media.
‘A good fit’
“As you may know, Informa organizes the Monaco Yacht Show,” McCurdy said. “When I joined the company years ago, I asked [Zimbalist] if there was any chance at some point we could talk about Show Management. The yachting and boating industry is growing, and it’s a good strategic fit for Informa. We are very committed to the Florida yachting industry and think we will continue to see growth there.”
“The plan is to not do anything dramatically different,” Zimbalist said. “Informa has a lot of expertise in running shows around the world, so I think Show Management can benefit from their experience, and vice versa. I think it’s all good. You won’t see major changes at the boat shows in Florida. If anything, they will be better and stronger and more dynamic.”
McCurdy reiterated Informa’s commitment to the Florida and U.S. boating industries and said the team there is “looking forward to working with the Show Management team, who literally have decades of experience under their belts.”
“This sale enables us to invest the proceeds to grow our digital video, online education, marketing services and events in our other verticals,” said Active Interest Media president and CEO Andrew Clurman. AIM owns Soundings Trade Only, among other boating publications.
“AIM has just finished our best year ever and we now have the resources to fund many exciting new opportunities,” said Clurman.
“The sale of Show Management allowed for an easy and logical transitioning of all AIM executive responsibilities to Andy,” Zimbalist said. “As non-executive chairman of the board, I remain an active resource for Andy and the team as they continue to lead AIM on its path of growth.”
Informa is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index. Show Management was founded in 1976 and has produced the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show at the Bahia Mar Yachting Center since then.
In 2006 the company was purchased by Active Interest Media, the publisher of more than 50 of the country’s leading consumer enthusiast magazines, including Yoga Journal and Yachts International.
AIM’s six groups — the Equine Network, the Home Group, the Healthy Living Group, the Marine Group, the Outdoor Group and the Creative Home Group — reach more than 40 million readers in 85 countries.
The deal aligns with Informa’s U.S. expansion strategy. A global business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events company, Informa completed the 1.2-billion-pound acquisition of Penton Information Services, a leading U.S. exhibition services company, in November.
‘I’ll be around’
In his role as non-executive chairman of AIM, Zimbalist said he’ll be consulting with Informa for several months, “so I’ll be around a little longer. And as a boater, I’ll be around forever.”
“It has been my distinct honor to lead the gifted team at Show Management,” Zimbalist said. “Each year they create marine cities that are home to thousands of boats and exhibitions and visited by hundreds of thousands of boaters from around the world. My hat is off to them for their ability to flawlessly execute the shows every year.”
He said he is happy to maintain a connection with AIM. “While my role at AIM will change, my passion for the company, its employees and its industry partners will not,” he said. “With this new change I look forward to spending more time with my wonderful wife, Paula, my four children, four grandchildren and cruising the ocean.”
In 2015, Zimbalist and the board appointed Clurman as CEO. Zimbalist subsequently became executive chairman.
“Over the many years we have spent first building Times Mirror Magazines and later Active Interest Media, Skip has been an extraordinary mentor, partner and friend,” said Clurman. “His passion for growing businesses and the communities they serve remain at the core of our purpose and our success. I’m grateful Skip will remain on our board and participate in AIM’s next phase.”
“Skip has been a terrific partner and loyal friend since our first discussions in the early 2000s about starting a company,” said Jim TenBroek, who has served as a director since the founding of AIM. “His vision and leadership have been the standards around which the company was built, and as a result AIM is truly the leader among consumer media businesses.”
Zimbalist began his media career in 1972 with the management consulting firm McKinsey and Co. He then served as chairman and CEO of Correia Glass, a family-owned business, before becoming president and CEO of Times Mirror Magazines. In 1999 he was named CFO of Times Mirror Corp. He serves as vice chairman of MPA — the Association of Magazine Media.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue.