Hervé Sedky: The Outdoor Retailer Show can be a force for change in public land protections

The protection of public lands is a critical issue that we must address as an industry.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show for outdoor industry's manufacturers and retail buyers, August 3, 2016, at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Salt Lake City plays a pivotal role in the diverse fabric of the Outdoor Retailer Show, fostering our community and propelling the world’s premier business-to-business outdoor event. For over four decades, Outdoor Retailer has provided a welcoming venue paving the way for large and small retailers, brands, athletes, and influencers looking for a place where they can grow their business and find a place where they belong.

This is why I am excited about our return to the Salt Palace Convention Center this June 19-21, 2023, for Outdoor Retailer Summer, where we will celebrate the benefits of the outdoors and encourage those new to our world to stick their toes in the water.

As President and CEO of Emerald Holding, Inc. (NYSE: EEX), the largest U.S.-based producer of trade shows and conferences, including Outdoor Retailer, I am keenly aware of the importance of committing ourselves to the communities we serve, while creating experiences that inspire.

Some have criticized our decision to return to Salt Lake City, suggesting that it in some way signals support of Utah’s public lands policies. I can assure you; this is not the case. In fact, we agree with our critics that the protection of public lands is a critical issue that we must address as an industry. The questions that are top of mind are what steps are we taking to effect change and be a force for the betterment of public land protections in Utah? How will we affect change in an industry so deeply divided?

Our decision to return to Salt Lake City remains imperative. It fuels our unwavering belief in the importance of actively participating in relevant communities and having a seat at the table, empowering our mission to drive transformative change.

I’m confident that our collaboration with our partners in Utah and globally will yield fruitful results. We’ve built incredibly strong relationships with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who began public service as an air quality advocate and has made tremendous investments in clean energy. She’s also a strong advocate for the protection of public lands.

Equally instrumental in our endeavors is Visit Salt Lake, the esteemed local destination marketing organization, whose invaluable collaboration continues to be pivotal in our shared mission of promoting the city. Between local partnerships and a successful business model, we are positioned to enact real and long-lasting change.

Our engagement with Utah has evolved over the 20 years. Our new initiative Business with Purpose (BWP) brings together leaders from the outdoor industry and our friends in the public sector to identify and execute strategies for environmental stewardship. We’ve also expanded to four events in the Salt Lake City metro area and will debut a consumer-focused show, Outdoor Adventure X (OAX) June 17-18.

Over the past year, Emerald’s Outdoor Retailer, Outdoor Adventure Expo, and Overland Expo Series have served as a vibrant stage, uniting over 1,700 outdoor brands with retailers and consumers. Building upon this foundation, our goal is to serve the entire outdoor recreation and action sports ecosystem by seamlessly connecting manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, fostering a symbiotic relationship that propels collective growth and success.

This is what we do — build meaningful connections for the greater good. Doing so means we have to be willing to use dialogue, rather than exclusion — as a way of engaging, even when we disagree with our partners.

Regardless of where we sit politically, we can all relate to how difficult it is to make progress in a divided country. The question remains: How do we move forward?  Is it through further division or by actively participating in ways that foster the growth and prosperity of our communities?

We firmly stand by our decision to return to the great city of Salt Lake. I’m a strong believer in actively engaging in dialogue when the going gets tough. You can’t do that if you don’t have a seat at the table. Ultimately, it remains essential to participate in difficult conversations, as they hold the key to making a meaningful impact.

Join me.

(Hervé Sedky) In a guest commentary for The Salt Lake Tribune, President and Chief Executive Officer of Emerald Holding, Inc. Hervé Sedky writes that the Outdoor Retailer Show's return to Salt Lake City is “imperative.”

Hervé Sedky joined Emerald Holding, Inc. as President and Chief Executive Officer in January 2021. Prior to joining Emerald, Mr. Sedky spent six years as President of the Americas for RX Global (RELX) and prior to that, spent over twenty years at the American Express Company and was part of the company’s senior management team.