It’s time for another installment of the monthly series I’m calling Interview With A Trade Show Exec. While it may not have the Gothic setting of an Anne Rice novel, I think these main characters are just as complicated and deep as were Lestat de Lioncourt and Louis de Pointe du Lac, but without all that brooding undead thing going on.

ChrisDolnackChris Dolnack
Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at National Shooting Sports Foundation
29 Years In The Industry

Traci Browne: Where did you grow up? What was your adolescent experience like?

CD: I was born in Trinidad but grew up in rural Pennsylvania. I think it was typical of most kids at that time—stay at home mom, family vacations each summer, lots of time outdoors hunting, fishing, trapping, playing sports. Our schools closed for the first two days of deer season each year. Looking back on it I realize just how lucky I was.

TB: What was the first show you went to?

CD: Zambor Distributors Retailer Show, Duryea, Penna. in 1984.

TB: What do you remember most about it?

CD: How important the face to face interaction with the customer was and the exhilaration of writing my first show order in the opening minutes.

TB: What show are you working on currently? What makes you excited about it?

CD: The 2015 SHOT Show at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. What isn’t exciting about the SHOT Show? Besides being the single biggest source of revenue for our association it’s the single largest industry gathering and our signature event. Having grown up hunting and shooting what could be cooler than leading the SHOT Show?

TB: What was your first job?

CD: Before I got my driver’s license I worked on neighboring farms baling hay, shoveling corn and fixing fences.

CD: Be on time, be ready to work hard and find some shade when you can.

TB: When did you become interested in working in the industry?

CD: I’ve been involved with the events industry for most of my career, first on the exhibitor side and the last 15 or so from the organizer side.

TB: How did you get started in the trade show industry?

CD: Helping to organize my employer’s participation in the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturer’s Association (AFTMA) in 1986 Show, now known as the American Sportfishing Association (ASA Show) and working the booth as a media relations rep

This is an Alvarez guitar...Bob Weir also has/had one.
This is an Alvarez guitar…Bob Weir also has/had one.

TB: Do you have any hobbies?

CD: Hunting, shooting, fishing, golf, music, travel, food and wine. I really enjoy cooking and entertaining. I have an Alvarez acoustic guitar and now that my two girls are grown I just picked up the Gibson Les Paul I always wanted as a kid.

TB: Do you have any pets? We want to know all about them if you do.

CD: Not presently but I might consider another bird dog when I have more time to devote to training.

TB: What’s on your iPod?

CD: My musical pendulum swings wide. AC/DC and Alabama 3 to Young the Giant and The Zombies and everything in between—classic rock, 80s hair metal, hard core, big band, club music, new country, old school rap, reggae, soca, you name it, it’s in those 4,000+ songs.

Bethlehem, PA 1757
Bethlehem, PA 1757

TB: If time travel was possible, where would you go and why? (You cannot choose the future because it hasn’t happened yet and there is the possibility you may have to stay put wherever you travel to… So answer wisely.)

CD: I would have liked to have seen America when it was unspoiled by human encroachment, strip mining and mass deforestation, so I’d start in Pennsylvania in the late 1700s and work my way west.

TB: Name three people you would love to have lunch with? (Living, dead, famous, infamous, unknown…)

CD: Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Welch and Jim Morrison.

TB: What are your future goals? (Career, education, travel, etc.)

CD: I wake up each day with the goal of being a better person than I was yesterday and to leave something behind of value to others. To be a better father, son, manager, mentor and friend.

Thanks Chris for sharing a bit about yourself with us. We hope you achieve your goal every single day!