Greater Columbus Convention Center Announces Selection of Mills James and Fern as New Service Providers

The SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) has announced the selection of Mills James and Fern Exposition & Event Services as new service providers for the facility, effective January 1, 2017.

“Both Mills James and Fern have been great partners of the GCCC through the years and their quality work and focus on providing an outstanding customer experience have placed them in a position of great success,” said GCCC General Manager John R. Page. “As we enter into our future with an expanded and renovated convention center to sell and service, we look forward to raising the bar at the GCCC with continued growth in our customer base and enhanced experiences that will be provided through these new partnerships.”

Mills James will become the GCCC’s preferred provider of production services and its exclusive provider of rigging services. Founded locally in 1984 by Ken Mills and Cameron James, Mills James is now one of the country’s largest independent production companies and creative media firms. The employee-owned company produces videos, spots, broadcast programs, corporate meetings, special events, digital signage and mobile apps for its clients.

“Our mission is to redefine convention center audiovisual services,” said John Aldrich, director of event technologies for Mills James and primary contact for the GCCC account. “Clients increasingly value one-stop shopping, and with our help, the convention center can now provide production support ranging from small business meetings to immersive experiences for thousands of people.”
“We’ve grown with our clients’ needs,” said Mike Yearling, one of Mills James’ managing partners. “Some of our most enduring relationships started with something as small as a projector rental and grew to multiday brand conferences. We’re able to offer production value that rivals anything you’d see in New York, L.A. or Chicago, but at client-friendly price points and with far greater speed, which is also increasingly important these days.”

Fern will become the facility’s new preferred general service contractor and will be responsible for decorating and other trade show services.

Fern is a leading national marketing support and trade show services contractor that provides unmatched customer service, best-in-class creativity and innovative solutions for exhibitions and large-scale events. Fern is among the top three face-to-face event service providers in North America, serving more than 1,100 live events annually, including many top 100 shows and dozens of Fortune 500 companies.

“Fern has served clients of the Greater Columbus Convention Center since the center’s opening in 1993. With the 2017 scheduled completion of an expanded and renovated GCCC, Fern is anticipating that GCCC will continue to attract many events for which Fern’s service offering is well suited. As the in-house preferred contractor for the GCCC, Fern will be well positioned to assist the GCCC and Experience Columbus in continuing to maximize opportunities for Columbus,” said Fern Executive Vice President Mike Cox.

“While Fern is best known for our capacity to design, build and manage successful events that engage and thrill audiences with experiences that drive business results, Fern’s personalized approach to client services is a clear competitive differentiator for Fern,” added Greg Pignatiello, director of business development for Fern. “From Fern’s president & CEO to its customer service representatives, Fern’s personnel are fully engaged in the client-facing and behind-the-scenes activities of Fern’s day-to-day business and are empowered to deliver excellence with every interaction.”

In addition to the selection of Mills James and Fern as new service providers, the GCCC is also enjoying the rave reviews for the facility’s new exclusive caterer, Levy Restaurants, which collaborated with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, a locally founded group with increasing national renown, in securing the new catering contract for the venue.

The Greater Columbus Convention Center, located in downtown Columbus, hosted an estimated 2.5 million visitors in 2016. The facility is owned by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority and is managed by SMG.

Founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to more than 240 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, equestrian facilities, science centers and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s NRG Park and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions and catering company SAVOR, currently serving more than 140 accounts worldwide.