The longer a company is in business, the greater the need for reinvention. Not many companies in the meetings space understand this better than the George P. Johnson Company, one of the industry's longest-running acts.

“If you look at James Bond movies,” says Jeff Rutchik, GPJ's senior vice president of worldwide client services and general manager, “there is the great actor, the fast car, and good vs. evil. Those tenets don't change. And the core of who we are doesn't change. It's about quality, creativity, and service.”

GPJ specializes in the use of branded live experiences and environments, but it was founded as a flag and decoration company in 1914. Founder George P. Johnson designed and produced the earliest auto shows in the United States. During World II, GPJ was called in to produce awards ceremonies for U.S. war effort manufacturers.

As general contractor for the New York and Chicago auto shows during the 1950s and 1960s, GPJ helped to make shows a reliable method of marketing products. Over time, GPJ not only produced exhibitions, it also provided expanded services nationally, including turnkey, on-site management and event coordination.

In the 1990s, GPJ became an employee-owned operation and added a range of event marketing tools, technology, and logistics management services. It also developed experience in global meetings and event planning and management.

This year, GPJ did significant business around the Beijing Olympics, says Rutchik. “Not only VIP meetings and the logistical aspects but working with major brands, creating an immersive experience, and driving their message after the Games. You can spend millions creating the right pavilion. But when you finally get the opportunity to meet the right customer and you don't have the right message, it's wasted.”

Rutchik adds, “Bringing people together to have conversations and make the right connections is incredibly powerful.”