Project leadership attends Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition, April 7-10, 2013
Our participation in this event was productive and well-received, both by the Navy and the defense industry. Our location could not have been better; our 14-foot model and exhibit was located at the base of the escalator used by all show attendees to access the exhibit hall. Everyone entering or leaving the hall had to pass by us.
Five of us manned the booth for all three days: board member and retired USAF BG Jim D’Agostino; JFK RI volunteers Paul Haas and Dave Gamache (who also drove the model down and back); Rich Goldberg from our marketing arm R2 Associates; and me. Retired RADM (and Vice Chair of our Board of Trustees) Tom Zelibor was there Sunday evening through Tuesday evening. Development (fundraising) Director Bill White was there Tuesday afternoon and for the press conference, which resulted in the Defense News coverage reported [here]. Two other R2 staffers also helped man the booth on different days. Our Trustee Chair, retired VADM Jerry Tuttle, also came by on Monday.
Everyone agreed that the top-level contacts we made, combined with the exposure and media coverage we received, made the expenditure well worthwhile.
Specifics worth noting:
- On the Navy side I personally met and spoke with SECNAV Ray Mabus; former SECNAV John Lehman; CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert; Adm. William Gortney, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command; Deputy CNO VADM Allen Myers; Naval Academy Superintendent (and former JFK CO) VADM Mike Miller; and Rear Admiral Mark A. Handley, head of the SeaBees. Tom Zelibor introduced me to at least 20 other current and former flag officers that he knew.
- Admiral Zelibor was MVP of this event. Jim D’Agostino and I counted 140 people Tom knew personally who either came up to him at our booth or stopped him in the exhibit hall. Most of these were former senior Navy contemporaries who now hold key positions in industry.
- Bill White was emphatic with the media, stating that “we would raise the money, and we would bring JFK to Newport.” In response to questions about attendance and financial viability, he stated emphatically that the JFK business plan was “superior to that of Intrepid or Midway”, the gold standards in the industry. (He and I were interviewed by Defense News, Seapower, US News & World Report and various lesser outlets.)