Two Executive Promotions: Greg Topalian Elevated to Chairman of Clarion Events North America, Randy Pekowski Named CEO of The Expo Group

February 20, 2024

An event design and management company and a major trade show producer recently announced two executive promotions.

Clarion Events North America

Greg Topalian is being elevated from CEO to chairman of Clarion Events North America. 

In his new role, Topalian will focus on acquisitions and business development and provide high-level strategic planning for Clarion globally while actively supporting North America presidents Liz Irving, president of Clarion Events North America, and Kelly Comboni, president of Quartz Network, Consero and LeftField Media, who will run the day-to-day strategy and operations across the business. 

“[Greg’s] visionary leadership has been instrumental in guiding Clarion’s remarkable growth and has helped establish Clarion as a major player in the U.S. market,” said Clarion Group CEO Lisa Hannant. “His focus on organic growth, significant acquisitions, a commitment to a customer-first mentality and a strong focus on our people has allowed us to build a world-class business in North America.

She continued, “This new role not only renews Greg’s commitment to driving the future of Clarion but also grants him the freedom to personally explore additional non-competitive business ventures. We believe his duality will further enhance Greg’s contributions to Clarion.” 

Topalian joined Clarion (then Urban Expositions) in 2016 through the company’s acquisition of LeftField Media, a boutique event company he founded in 2014. The industry veteran’s almost 30-year career has included launching New York Comic Con in 2006 and serving as senior vice president at Reed Exhibitions, where he was responsible for a portfolio of 38 events.

“I am so proud of what we have accomplished as a team since 2017 and I’m excited to be able to continue to help shape the growth and evolution of Clarion in my new role,” Topalian said. “I look forward to supporting Liz and Kelly in their growth as leaders which will undoubtedly drive our company to new heights.”

The Expo Group

After serving as president and COO since 2016, Randy Pekowski has been tapped as CEO for The Expo Group. He precedes his father, Ray Pekowski, who has served in that leadership role since founding the company in 1991.

During his time as president and COO of The Expo Group, Randy led significant geographic and business expansion, positioning the company for even stronger growth, according to company officials. A member of The Expo Group team since 1995, he is passionate about contributing to the industry’s success, regularly participating in industry events and serving in an executive board role with ESCA.   

“As we have expanded our business, it has been an amazing team effort to find new avenues for revenue growth and opportunities,” Pekowski said. “I am honored to continue a leadership role at The Expo Group to further the life-long vision of my father, Ray, who has built this business into a strong position in the industry. We will continue to stay focused on elevating our customers’ brands to enable the delivery of content, commerce and community connections.”  

Ray Pekowski will transition from CEO to executive chairman of the board of directors, remaining active in a strategic capacity.  

“Randy has essentially been serving in the capacity of CEO for some time,” the senior Pekowski said. “I have unwavering trust in him and his leadership team to lead the charge to new levels of success for our business and our customers.”  

As far as his plans for the company in 2024, the junior Pekowski said, “To continue our market position and growth strategy of ‘Architects Connecting Communities.’ When we talk about being architects, we are referencing the fact that we don’t just ‘build’ a show, we work with our clients to fully understand their community of exhibitors and what they care about.”

He continued, “We ask questions to help us design a show that is personalized to the audience, much like an architect designs a house based on the personal wants of the homeowner. After all the show information is collected, we then start the process to build the show based on a plan that is designed to create a unique, custom experience that will connect the show’s community.”


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on LinkedIn!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact