CHA Announces Selection of New CEO

The Craft & Hobby Association has announced the selection of a new CEO to replace Steve Berger, who departed in May 2011 in the middle of his contract. Berger had been CHA’s top executive since 2003. Tony Lee, CHA’s Vice President of Meetings & Expositions, has been serving as interim CEO during the search for a permanent replacement for Berger.

The association’s new President & CEO is Andrej Suskavcevic (Shoosh-kav-chev-itch), who had previously been the CEO of the Commercial Finance Association since 2007. His resume also includes a position as Vice President of Operations at Financial Executives International, and serving as Chief Operating Officer at Zepter International, an international cookware and tabletop company.

Suskavcevic is a Certified Association Executive, and a member of the American Society of Association Executives. His educational background includes a bachelor of science degree in finance from Montclair University and a master’s of business administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

As for Suskavcevic’s familiarity with crafts, CHA’s announcement describes him as living with his wife and children, and having “been involved in many ongoing craft projects with them.”

Larry Olliges, the Chair of the Craft & Hobby Association Board of Directors, said of the hiring:

After a long and exhaustive national search, we believe Andrej has the expertise and qualifications needed to lead CHA forward, capitalizing on the positive momentum created by Tony and Team CHA. Andrej has some core strengths in marketing, public relations and finance that make him uniquely qualified for this position at this time. We have every confidence in him and look forward to great things.

For his part Suskavcevic expressed his excitement about heading CHA:

I am very excited about joining CHA and working with members to grow and develop the organization to be a champion for the industry. I see opportunities for CHA to be the ultimate resource for the industry and a platform for members to share their expertise and connect with customers globally.

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8 Responses to CHA Announces Selection of New CEO

  1. Nancy Williams January 13, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Maybe CHA will reconsider and open up a day for non members and owners like they did two years ago.
    Would like to attend and see things like we did then.

    • Nancy Nally January 13, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Nancy – CHA has never opened the trade show floor to non-trade attendees. I believe what you are talking about is the CHA Supershows that they had in Anaheim & Orlando that were held the same week as the trade show, starting the day after the trade show concluded. Those were entirely separate shows, with mostly different exhibitors and almost entirely different booths from the trade shows. There were a few booths that were located in the same location as they were for the trade show to limit set-up/tear-down, but even those booths altered their displays between the two shows for the trade and consumer audiences.

  2. Lisa January 17, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Well, as a retailer, I certainly hope they don’t open it up for anyone off the street to go to a trade show! CHA is a trade association for wholesalers and retailers in the craft industry. I know it sounds like fun to see all the new stuff, but honestly…what other industry do people know this much about what’s going on “behind the scenes” of an industry trade show?

    • Nancy Nally January 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      In plenty of industries consumers know a lot of behind the scenes about the industry trade – they just have to know where to look. The industry that immediately springs to mind for me is the tech industry – the trade shows in the tech industry are held almost entirely for the benefit of the media, to share and promote the new products and even prototypes.

  3. Lisa January 23, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Yes, that is true there is a lot of media at the tech shows…but are there regular “joe” consumers there? Are they getting free make & take projects? Are they getting free beta phones or beta software to try at home? Are there wannabe software designers hawking their talents to the reps at the show?

    There are a lot of media outlets at the CHA shows taking up booth reps’ time and getting free samples. By the time the actual store owners get there and SPEND MONEY at the booth, their sample packets are gone because they gave them to the media.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know the media is a valuable tool to get the manufacturers new product out in blog land. There is definitely a place for them. I just wish there was a better avenue for stores to get one-on-one access to their vendors without all the extra “noise” at a tradeshow where consumers are around and can hear pricing, delivery dates, etc.

    • Nancy Nally January 23, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      There aren’t supposed to be non-trade attendees on the show floor at CHA, and they have majorly cracked down the past few shows on who they issue badges to, and the credentials they make you produce to get one. They’ve limited the number of free badges available to CHA member companies and they are making companies prove that every badge issued in their name is a legitimate member of their business, not just a friend who wants to come for fun to be a tourist.

      Since the explosion in the number of media attending the show, many manufacturers are also trying to address the issue about samples by not handing out media samples at the show. Instead, they mail samples to carefully selected media. This limits the amount they have to hand out and lets them target carefully who it goes to. As a member of the media, I actually appreciate this because I don’t have to haul stuff around the floor and then try to fit it in my luggage to fly home. Or samples are handed out by invitation at an RSVP media event, so that the company can plan how many they need ahead of time and not deplete their buyer samples.

      I know as media that my job is important to the industry but I also know that I should never interfere with the business of buying and selling in a booth at a trade show. I always step aside for buyers to do their business. Unfortunately not everyone is this deferential.

  4. Lisa January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Yes Nancy, I agree that CHA has tried. However, the cat is already out of the bag. 🙂

    I don’t want to argue with you, as I believe we are both arguing the same point. I was just pointing out to the first Nancy that posted above, who wanted an “open show” for consumers.

    • Nancy Nally January 23, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      Haha I actually find your viewpoint quite intriguing…in fact, you’ve given me an idea! I’m emailing you! 🙂

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