Marking the company’s first property in the active lifestyle space, Diversified Communications, the owner and operator of a diverse number of trade shows, has acquired The Running Event, the leading trade show and expo serving the run channel.
Diversified, which is headquartered in Portland, ME, will acquire The Running Event and the show’s complementary digital magazine, Running Insight, from Formula 4 Media LLC.
Formula 4 Media will continue to own and operate the its remaining media properties, including Sports Insight, Team Insight, Footwear Insight, Textile Insight, Outdoor Insight, Trend Insight, Sportstyle and Sports Insight Extra.
In an interview with SGB, Oakley Dyer, corporate vice president, strategy & corporate development, Diversified, said the it had known about The Running Event show and the show’s “great reputation” and proactively reached out to Mark Sullivan, the former president of Formula 4, after one of Diversified’s EVPs met him at an industry event. Formula 4 wound up engaging a banker for assistance in the process and the deal was consummated.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Launched in 2006, The Running Event hosted 255 exhibitors and over 2,500 total attendees in 2017 at the event’s annual show that is typically held in Austin. Last year’s show was held in Orlando due to a scheduling conflict.
The acquisition marks Diversified’s first step into the active space, but Dyer said the running industry is built on relationships like many of the its trade shows and media properties.
“We always look for industries that have a need for face-to-face interactions for buyers and sellers as well as a need for content and education.The Running Event and Running Insight fit this perfectly, given their passionate community in an industry that is constantly seeing new product development and innovation.”
— Oakley Dyer, Corporate VP, Strategy & Corporate Development
The Running Event portfolio will be managed by Diversified’s EVP Bill Springer, and will operate out of Diversified’s headquarters located in Portland. Diversified has hired the show’s event manager, Christina Henderson, and she and Springer will work with Mark Sullivan and Troy Leonard, two of the current owners of Formula 4 Media, as consultants through the 2018 event.
Springer said in a statement, “With Christina’s talent on board, Mark and Troy’s consultancy and our extensive event experience and infrastructure, we are looking forward to furthering the event’s mission to support this growing market and more specifically to help the running store owners and executives adapt to changing consumer behavior and continue to increase their profitability.”
“Diversified Communications is the perfect company to help grow and insure the long term success of The Running Event,” added Sullivan in a statement. “They have great resources and people and understand the important role the event plays in the running community. The Running Event is in great hands with Diversified.”
Dyer likewise promised a smooth transition to new ownership. He said, “We are thrilled that Christina, Troy and Mark have come over with the sale. They are deeply rooted in the industry and we will be leaning on them to both help with the transition period and build the show and magazine for the future. I don’t expect we will want to change too much off the bat, as they clearly have a formula that works. We will hopefully we able to take some things off their hands, given our resources in operations, marketing, IT, etc.”
He expects Diversified may be able to quickly assist with and streamline many of the back-office functions that support the show. But he also cautioned that Diversified will take some time to learn more about the running industry and its specific needs before making any changes. Added Dyer, “For any new event, whether a launch or acquisition, we do a lot of listening to the stakeholders (exhibitors, sponsors and attendees) and tailor an event to their specific industry needs. The Running Event is already an amazing show, so we will only look to continue to improve on what the Formula 4 team has built.”
The sale also includes the launch of the 50 Best Running Stores in America, an awards celebration recognizing outstanding retailers in the industry, which will be held June 21-23 in Minneapolis, MN alongside the Fleet Feet Annual Franchise Conference. The event had typically been held at The Running Event.
The 13th edition of The Running Event will take place from November 27 to 30, in Austin. The four-day event is comprised of two days of conference sessions, two days of exhibitions, an opening reception, an awards banquet, retail/vendor arranged meetings and a 5K race for retailers. The Running Insight digital magazine provides year-round content and has 2,500 subscribers.
Diversified’s largest show in its portfolio is the Seafood Expo Global event in Brussels, followed closely behind by the Seafood Expo North America event in Boston. Overall, the privately held, third generation, family-owned business operates trade shows and media properties across over 14 industries, including food and beverage, healthcare, natural and organic, business management and technology. The company’s media properties include Tourism & Travel Magazine, Mini Plus, National Fisherman, Natural Beauty News, Natural Products, Route One, Work Boat, Accountex Network, SeafoodSource News, Pri-Med, Sits Insight and Spar3D.
Dyer said Diversified will seek to add events and properties in the active space. Said Dyer, “We are a unique acquirer in the B2B media industry, as we are the only large organizer that is family owned. We don’t have the pressures of the public markets or private equity owners, which gives us more opportunity to build for the very long-term. It also gives us a level of flexibility to structure a transaction that aligns with the interests of the seller. We like to think of ourselves as a very good home for entrepreneurs looking to take what they have built to the next level.”
With the exit of Mark Sullivan and Troy Leonard, Formula 4 Media will be led by Jeff Nott, CEO, and Jeff Gruenhut, VP, and will re-focus back solely on the its media properties, including Sports Insight, Footwear Insight, Team Insight and Textile Insight. The editorial team, including Cara Griffin, Bob McGee, Jennifer Ernst Beaudry, Michael Jacobsen and Emily Walzer, and advertising reps, including Katie O’Donohue, Sam Selvaggio and Daemon Filson, will remain with Formula 4.
Nott told SGB that Formula 4 has gone “full circle,” shiftig from a media company into the event business and now returning to a media-first focus. Said Nott, “We grew the show from nothing, but the sale gives us a chance to re-focus and reinvest in our core media properties. We have a great team and we’re excited and energized.”
Photo courtesy The Running Event