New Business Deals: Orbus, tfconnect and CDS Announce Strategic Acquisitions and Partnerships

May 31, 2024

Throughout the U.S. and across the pond, trade show-related organizations are forging partnerships and scooping up companies as they seek to expand their reach and bolster their market share.

Orbus Visual Communications Grows With Acquisition  

Orbus Visual Communications — a North American company specializing in the manufacture of visual communications solutions for exhibits/live events, retail and interiors market segments — has acquired CRĒO Industrial Arts, a Seattle-based custom fabricator that has been producing architectural elements for more than 40 years.  


The CRĒO leadership team will stay in place, and the combined companies have nearly 100 employees, according to Orbus Enterprise Vice President of Marketing Natalie Whited.

Backstory: CRĒO works with architects, designers and landscape architects to provide custom fabrications and graphics for museums, public art and other permanent installations. CRĒO’s work can be seen at the Bob Dylan Center, Expedia, Gen Digital and Tower 333.

Context: Brands within Orbus Visual Communications include Orbus, Nimlok, Fabric Images, SEG Systems, SEG Services and CRĒO Industrial Arts. The company has operations in Chicago; Las Vegas; Toronto; Charlotte, NC; Portland, OR; and Seattle. 

Why it matters: “CRĒO and Orbus collectively have a passion for visual storytelling and a collaborative spirit that produces remarkable results,” said CRĒO Director of Exhibits Mark Matthews. “Our partnership enhances our ability to build unique permanent exhibits and environments for the public that are inspiring and educational.”  

Orbus CEO Gary Keefer
Orbus CEO Gary Keefer

What they’re saying: “We are excited to collaborate with CRĒO’s remarkable team,” said Orbus CEO Gary Keefer. “Their outstanding capabilities in technical design, metal fabrication, woodworking, lighting and more are best-in-class. Further, CRĒO’s custom interior and exterior solutions complement and supplement Orbus’ existing custom offerings.” 

Big picture: “Being a part of the Orbus family will enable CRĒO to serve its clients even better than we do today, and it will significantly fuel our strategic growth plans,” said CRĒO President Jeff Braaten. “Access to a larger platform of manufacturing operations enables our company to expand our reach throughout North America and increases the breadth of capabilities we can provide.”  

Read the full release here.


tfconnect and Careertopia Announce Strategic Partnership for U.S. Market 

tfconnect, a UK-based specialist recruitment and executive search consultancy for the global events and exhibitions industry, has formed a strategic partnership with U.S.-based event executive search firm Careertopia to expand its presence in the U.S. The two organizations will now work together on senior roles throughout the U.S., according to company officials. 

(Left to right): Tom Portesy [Careertopia], Trevor Foley [tfconnect], Miranda Martin [tfconnect], Kim Falk, Brian Howell, Sean Falk [Careertopia]

Why it matters: tfconnect’s partnership with Careertopia will allow for the expansion of both its projects and candidate reach, given that the Careertopia team has a large network of industry connections among its founders and among a team of associates. Besides running a recruitment operation in the franchise sector for a number of years, Careertopia’s expansion into the exhibition sector with tfconnect makes strong business sense, with Careertopia’s founders and partners – Scott Lehr, Gary Gardner and Tom Portesy – boasting decades of experience working in the exhibition market, according to company officials. 

What they’re saying: “We have been working on the launch of the Events Division of Careertopia for over a year,” Portesy said. “Throughout the entire time, the one constant was partnering with tfconnect! The respect Trevor and his team have in the events industry is unmatched anywhere in the world and we’re delighted to join them.”  

Big picture: “We have been speaking with Careertopia’s Tom Portesy for a number of months and we have already successfully worked together on a project even before signing our partnership,” said tfconnect Chairman Trevor Foley. “We are jointly looking forward to providing a much-needed service in the events sector for the U.S. market.”  

CDS Tapped as Registration and Integration Partner for Informa Markets’ North American Event Portfolio

B2B event organizer Informa Markets selected Convention Data Services (CDS), a Freeman Co., as its official vendor for registration, integrations and lead management services for all events under the North American portfolio. 

Backstory: The partnership, which launched in January, has already been a fruitful one, with Q1 events already showing improved registration wait times, according to Informa officials. Examples of events with successful CDS service implementation include World of Concrete; the Water and Wastewater Equipment, Treatment and Transport (WWETT) Show; The International Surface Event (TISE); IME West; DesignCon; SupplySide East; and Natural Products Expo West, among others. 

NPE 2024
Natural Products Expo 2024 was held March 12-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Context: “CDS has previously worked on select Informa shows, and we are thrilled to expand this partnership,” said CDS President Darren Phalen. “Our team is equipped with the experience and technology needed to accommodate these renowned events, and we are committed to providing our best-in-class service, as we do for all our clients.”

Why it matters: Through CDS’ data-backed platform capabilities, Informa Markets can continue to yield strong results in building and engaging attendee and exhibitor audiences, and exacting in-depth data analytics to deliver an even more robust experience for U.S. customers, according to Informa Markets officials. 

What they are saying: “The CDS and Informa Markets teams have been working closely together for several months to ensure that we are completely aligned in our pursuit to deliver the best possible experience to Informa Markets’ customers, and I am excited to see the overall successful outcome of our first 2024 events together,” said CDS COO Dave Wuethrich. “I am confident that the efforts of our collaborative partnership will continue to lay the foundation for a truly unparalleled registration experience.”

Big picture: “Creating the best possible customer experience is at the heart of everything we do,” said Christine Flanagan, COO for Informa Markets’ North American events. “We were looking for a partner who shared that vision and was looking to build and grow alongside us. CDS was willing to take the plunge with us and they have been the ideal collaborator to help create seamless registration onsite, empowering our teams to anticipate the goals of our audiences with unparalleled efficiency and further fueling the innovation our events are known for so we can continue to deliver the experience our customers deserve.”


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