Since a trade show provides its own type of adrenaline rush, it is ironic that Sample was first drawn to the industry through Action Sports Retailers, which oversaw commerce in the surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding industries. From there, she went to Nielsen Expositions (now Emerald Expositions), where, as director of operations, she worked on well over 100 trade shows and developed the resiliency, creativity and organizational skills she would bring to NAMM in 2013.
Some of Sample’s most influential mentors in the industry are NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond, and Lori Jenks and David Loechner of Emerald Expositions, she says. It was Loechner, president and CEO of Emerald, who gave her the succinct and sage advice that has carried her through more than one potentially stressful trade show moment.
“What he said to me is, ‘There’s no crying at trade shows,’” she says. “And that’s so true. In a nutshell, you can’t crumble. You’ve got to be strong and confident to get through the many, many challenges you face as an event planner.”
In the past two decades, the challenges that have fallen at Sample’s feet during the course of a show range from natural disasters to health emergencies to forklift accidents. In 1999, a tornado swept through the temporary pavilion where she was helping set up a trade show in Salt Lake City. It was the final day of setup, and no one was injured. Some of the exhibitors, however, were looking at debris where their booths had once stood.
The response from those whose exhibits that remained intact was one more confirmation that Sample had chosen the right line of work.
“To watch the community come together, competitors come together and help each other out, to give these companies that lost space or their tents were destroyed space in their own booth,” she said. “We opened the show the next day. It was truly amazing to be part of something like that.”