Tag Archives: Bob Mancuso Jr.

The Triumph of Agriculture Expo

March 9, 2014 by

It’s a diversified show, something for everybody that’s in farming and ranching of some form,” Bob Mancuso Jr., show director, says of the Triumph of Agriculture Expedition. The 48th annual show runs from March 12-13 at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

With more than 900 exhibits and covering the 200,000 square-foot arena, the Triumph of Ag Expo is a hands-on experience. Visitors can expect to see demonstrations from antique farm tractors and equipment, as well as displays from Camp Creek Threshers, Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Association, Keg Creek Antique Machinery Club, and more. Vendors on every level of CenturyLink Center will be showcasing their products, services, or farming and ranching equipment.

“The Nebraska Wheat Board will also be present at the show,” Mancuso says. “They’re going to have a mobile wheat unit that will highlight wheat, and they’ll be giving away cinnamon rolls, so that’s fun. People can try those and sample them.”

The Expo, which has vendors on a waiting list to participate, is one of the largest in the Midwest. Mancuso says organizers try to have really diversified options for both vendors and visitors.

“You know, Omaha—we’re right on the border,” Mancuso says, “so we definitely draw eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, even some South Dakota, Kansas, and Missouri. So it’s kind of a five-states-plus deal. You know there are people even from outside those five states that will come to the show.”

And it’s not just the farmers and ranchers that participate in the show. “You’d be surprised at how many people in the Omaha area are in agribusiness,” Mancuso says. “Like Midwest Laboratories is a longtime exhibitor, and they test soil samples, but they’re based right here in Omaha. They test soil all across the nation. They’re based right here, so they’ve got over 100 employees that are all involved in agribusiness.”

Besides the exhibits and vendors, the upper level of CenturyLink Center will host multiple seminars over the two-day span of the exposition, as well as an opening luncheon. Visitors can expect to hear speeches given by the presidents of the Omaha Agribusiness Club, the Chamber of Commerce Ag Council, and the National Agri-Marketing Association. The Agri Award, given for contributions in agribusiness, will also be presented during the luncheon.

“The Agri Award winner this year is Bill Northy, the Iowa Department of Agriculture head,” Mancuso says. “He will be speaking at the opening luncheon on the Wednesday. We’re excited to have him.”

The award presentation will kick off the biggest year in show history, with over 1,000 companies participating in the Expo. One thousand is actually a conservative estimate; a booth might house one, or there may be six or seven booths for each company or a local distributor. Two or three different companies could represent one booth. Whatever the arrangement, Mancuso says there’s always a high return rate for vendors.

“The Triumph of Ag Expo is always packed with lots of new improvements and helpful information,” says Brien McCready. He’s from John Deere’s A & M Green Power, as well as the show’s councilman.

Mancuso says they try to make it worthwhile for the farmers and ranchers out of respect for their busy schedules. Holding the event in March is meant to help farmers and ranchers in the off-season.

“In this area,” Mancuso says, “it’s known to be one of the last shows before the farmers and ranchers get out into the fields, and it’s great to come out and see what’s new in the world of farming and ranching. I mean, they’ll be in the fields from April on, so it’s one last time to come out and see products, services, and equipment.”

For those traveling from different states or even those who just want to spend a night Downtown, local hotels are offering packages for both exhibitors and visitors.

Mancuso states that hotel packages are available for attendees from outside the Omaha area who may have a variety of goals for their time in town. “If you want to stay overnight, or come in to see the show and stay, or come in one day and shop and see the different things in Omaha, we have sponsor hotels: the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott which is right Downtown, the Sleep Inn and Suites kind of by CenturyLink Center, and the third one is the Horseshoe Casino Double Tree hotel in Council Bluffs.”

For the latest information on the Triumph of Ag Expo, visit showofficeonline.com/agexpo.

The Mancusos

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

On a Monday afternoon in early March, Mike Mancuso steps out of the home office at CenturyLink Center Omaha and walks into the Great Hall of the arena. An exhibitor getting ready for the upcoming Triumph of Agriculture Expo sees Mike, one of the show’s managers, and immediately comes over to ask for help. Apparently, the space he has been given for his farm equipment display isn’t big enough. Could Mike come over and take a look? Mike puts an armful of papers and a can of pop on the floor, then disappears for a few minutes. When he returns, he picks up his papers and pop and continues to his original destination. Problem solved.

This is the life Mike and his two older brothers, Bob, Jr., and Joe, have willingly chosen. It is the life their father, Bob Mancuso, Sr., carved out for himself and the family he cherishes back in 1964, when his three sons were babies. The Mancuso family is the force behind Mid-America Expositions, Inc., producer of trade shows, expos, fairs, and festivals in the metro. For nearly 50 years, Mid-America has kept products rolling and people strolling through Omaha’s numerous indoor and outdoor venues with events like the Farm and Ag Expo, Omaha Home & Garden Expo, Taste of Omaha, and the Omaha Products Show for Business and Industry—events that have become long-standing traditions, drawing families from all over the Midwest.

Despite a diverse slate of productions, Mid-America adheres to a simple driving philosophy: “We bring business and people together,” states Bob, Jr. “The Ag Expo helps farm businesses, the Taste of Omaha helps restaurants…Our aim is to make businesses successful.”

From left: Bob, Jr., Bob, Sr., Mike, Dona, and Joe Mancuso.

From left: Bob, Jr., Bob, Sr., Mike, Dona, and Joe Mancuso.

It’s no coincidence that the ascent of Omaha on the national stage parallels the transformation of Bob, Sr., from an athlete and teacher to a business-savvy entrepreneur whose deep devotion, keen vision, and strong faith in the city he loves changed the way marketing is done around here.

“Our family is rooted in Omaha,” says Bob, Sr., proudly. “My father and mother were both born and raised here. The Mancusos seldom got out of Omaha to go to school.” Except for him.

A standout wrestler at Omaha Central, Bob, Sr., scored a full ride to Kansas State and majored in phys. ed. and biological science. His teaching and coaching career began in 1956 at the old Bellevue High School. Coach Mancuso’s impact was immediate and startling. He molded a group of teenagers from a small, Class B school into state wrestling champions his very first year—Bellevue’s first championship ever, in any sport. The wins kept piling up.

Bellevue also produced the love of his life. A pretty young waitress who worked in her parents’ café across the street from the high school caught Bob, Sr.’s eye early on. In 1958, Dona Marie Hansen and Robert Mancuso were united in marriage.

Meanwhile, the coach’s impressive record at Bellevue caught the attention of a lot of eyes in Lincoln. In 1961, Bob, Sr., became head wrestling coach at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where his squads did well but were dwarfed by the large shadow cast by the football program.

“I was making $4,000 a year. My family didn’t need much to live on. But I kept thinking about my future and wondering, ‘Am I going to sit on a stool the rest of my life?’”

The answer came from Bob, Sr.’s older brother, the late Charles Mancuso, who at the time ran Omaha’s Civic Auditorium, Rosenblatt Stadium, and the Orpheum Theater. “Charlie told me I should quit the coaching business. He wanted more activities at the Civic, and he wanted me to help him.”

 “We bring business and people together…Our aim is to make businesses successful.” – Bob Mancuso, Jr.

After talking it over with his wife, Bob, Sr., joined with former AkSarBen General Manager Jake Isaacson and talent agency head Don Romeo to form Mid-America Expositions. The Mancuso magic struck again. “Our first event was Queen For A Day, with host Jack Bailey,” Bob, Sr., remembers as if it were yesterday. “The show broadcast live from Omaha for a week. Women stood in line around the auditorium to get in.”

Over 50,000 women swarmed the Civic during that week in late September of 1964, not only to see one of early TV’s iconic shows with its classic “applause meter” that determined the winner, but to also visit the Food Festival and Housewives Fair that accompanied it. Omaha had never seen a production on this scale before. “[Changing careers] was a good move for me,” says the elder Mancuso, who will turn 80 in September. “The future was wide open for aggressive people in the events market.”

Today, Mid-America Expositions produces between 12 and 15 shows a year, many at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, and they are a family affair. Each son joined their father one by one after pursuing their own corporate careers. Mike came aboard in 1988, followed by Bob, Jr., in 2005, and Joe in 2007. The love and respect each son carries for their father is evident in everything they say and do. They get emotional when trying to put into words what his legacy means to them.

“Dad has been a great example to me,” says Joe. “I have pretty much modeled everything I’ve ever wanted to do off of him—the way he has handled his life and lived his life.”

All three sons are fine athletes like their father and have been instrumental in adding the Outland Trophy Award Dinner, the Health, Wellness, and Fitness Expo, and the Corporate Cycling Challenge to the roster of events.

Next on the agenda: the 16th Annual Taste of Omaha May 31-June 2 at the riverfront, followed by the Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival August 9-10.

As for the future, “We want to continue making our events stronger and greater,” says Mike. “We want to keep them good for the city of Omaha and the people of Omaha.”