Daughter makes no major changes as she takes over Northwest Ag Show

By JOHN SCHMITZ

For the Capital Press

The Northwest Ag Show founder and manager Jim Heater has turned over the reins of the 41-year-old event to his daughter Amy Patrick.

While Heater has stepped down, he planned on spending more time meeting and greeting people at the event.

Patrick, 37, began helping her father with the ag show, held at the Portland Expo Center, when she was only 12.

"Before there were cell phones I would run messages for the exhibitors from the show office out to the floor," she said.

Today, Patrick is personally in contact, by phone and e-mail, with well over 200 exhibitors who set up at the show each January. She also tries to connect personally with as many as she can at the show.

"When I look at the show, I'm a little more exhibitor driven. If you have happy exhibitors, then you have a good show. That's really where my focus is," she said.

As the show's reputation grew -- it is now the second largest event of its kind on the West Coast -- her father gave her more responsibilities.

Patrick said there were no major changes in the day-to-day management of the ag show, which was Jan. 25-27.

The biggest changes she's seen at the show over recent years are the major inroads made by technology and the increasing interest in sustainable ag.

The show also has to compete more and more with the Internet, she said.

"The biggest change is keeping it viable," Patrick said. "The Internet has changed the way people do their research, everybody networks. Making the show worthwhile for people to come and see the equipment and exhibitors, that's always presenting new challenges."

Last year the show offered wireless Internet on the exhibit floor so exhibitors could run audio and video presentations at their booths.

While exhibit space rentals at the Northwest Ag Show reflected the weak economy over the last three years, Patrick believes the downturn bottomed out last year. "Last year was probably the biggest reduction in booth space. This year I haven't seen as much of a reduction to where we were last year at this time."

What's more, exhibitors who dropped out altogether in recent years came back, Patrick said.

"It's looking good for this year."

For more information on the expo, go to nwagshow.com or call Patrick at 503-769-7120

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