Farewell to Kurt Schoop: Former Trade Fair Boss and Founding Father of boot dies at the Age of 95 in his Adoptive Home of Travemünde
On 18 January 2017 one of the key protagonists of the national and international trade fair business died in Travemünde at the age of 95 – Kurt Schoop. From 1967 to 1984 Schoop was CEO at Messe Düsseldorf GmbH. Commenting on this loss Werner M. Dornscheidt, the current CEO at Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, said: “Kurt Schoop influenced us and our trade fair company like no other, especially with his practised conviction that trade fairs are greenhouses for optimism. He was the spirit of our company.”
Kurt Schoop definitively initiated and advanced the building of Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre which opened to great international acclaim in 1971 after just 905 days’ building work. Since then Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre has been synonymous with outstanding quality: “With its new southern entrance and new Hall 1 we continue the success story and build upon our position as a world-class trade fair location”, explained Dornscheidt. Schoop’s very market-oriented thoughts and actions laid the foundations for the successful trade fair concept of the Düsseldorf location. For Schoop trade fairs were always “greenhouses for optimism”, Dornscheidt recalls. This outlook dating from the 60s still bears fruit today, as particularly evidenced in Düsseldorf’s No.1 position in the field of capital goods fairs.
At the same time, Schoop set the points for the increasing internationalisation of our corporate group. Our proprietary events in the machinery, plant and equipment field of expertise today attract approx. 72 per cent international exhibitors and trade visitors to the Rhine. In all, Düsseldorf trade fairs are attended by customers from about 180 countries. The Group runs a global network of sales offices in 132 countries (71 international representations) as well as competence centres in 8 countries.
At the end of the 1960s Schoop was one of the founding fathers of boot Düsseldorf: in 1969 116 exhibitors only just filling one exhibition hall teamed up with the company setting themselves the challenge of establishing an international boat show in Düsseldorf. This was the kick-off to a great success story: at boot 2017 some 1,800 exhibitors from 60 countries will be presented on 220,000 square metres. All 17 exhibition halls are occupied here offering a complete overview of the world water sports market. boot is the world’s largest boat show: with 1,800 boats on show here in Düsseldorf. Over 50% of exhibitors now come from other European countries and overseas.
It is not least to Schoop’s guiding principles that the Düsseldorf trade fair owes its outstanding position today as a service provider and service partner for the industry. Personally, Dornscheidt was particularly impressed not only by his strong focus on customer service but also by his mentor’s concept of a “human trade fair”, a principle by which Messe Düsseldorf still works today. For Schoop you could never replace personal one-to-one communication at trade fairs, not even via digitalisation.
In 1984 Schoop left the management in Düsseldorf and took up a position on the company’s Supervisory Board. After leaving Messe Düsseldorf and various advisory roles Schoop was summoned to Leipzig at the age of 70 by the Regional Minister President of the Free State of Saxony, Kurt Biedenkopf. As the CEO at Leipziger Messe GmbH from 1990 to 1991 he managed to establish a market-oriented mindset making it possible to implement today’s trade fair programme and advance the rebuilding of Leipzig Exhibition Centre. The architecturally remarkable structure was opened in 1996 and counts as one of the most state-of-the-art trade fair and congress centres in the world. Until recently Kurt Schoop was an honorary member of the Supervisory Board at Leipziger Messe GmbH.
In addition to holding a number of offices for 20 years Kurt Schoop was Vice-President on the Executive Board of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (Union des Foires Internationales – UFI) and for a long time on the board of the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (Ausstellungs- und Messeausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft – AUMA) where for many years he was its spokesman and Vice-President.
He began his professional career in 1947 as Advertising Manager at EDEKA’s Central Organisation in Hamburg. 1954 saw him switch to a role as Head of Protocol at Group Management of Friedrich Krupp GmbH in Essen. In 1964 he became Krupp’s Domestic Sales Director and in 1966 Managing Director at Friedrich Krupp Universalbau before coming to Messe Düsseldorf in 1967 – back then known as NOWEA (Nordwestdeutsche Ausstellungs-Gesellschaft mbH).
Kurt Schoop’s achievements in the German and international trade fair business were honoured with numerous high-ranking awards, also including the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Orders of Merit of North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony and the Medal of Honour of the City of Leipzig.
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The Messe Düsseldorf Group*:
With a turnover of around EUR 430m in 2016, the Messe Düsseldorf Group maintained its position as one of Germany's most successful trade fair companies. 32,100 exhibitors presented their products to 1.6m trade visitors at events in Düsseldorf in that year. They were joined by half a million visitors to various conventions. About 50 trade fairs were held in Düsseldorf, including 24 global leaders in five areas of expertise: machinery, plants and equipment, trade and services, medicine and healthcare, fashion and lifestyle, and also leisure. In addition, there were about 70 proprietary, joint and contracted events outside Germany, demonstrating that the Messe Düsseldorf Group is a leading global platform for export. Messe Düsseldorf GmbH is the trade fair company with the highest level of internationalism in capital goods exhibitions. In 2016 Messe Düsseldorf's proprietary events in machinery, plants and equipment attracted approx. 72 per cent international exhibitors and trade visitors to the Rhine. In all, Düsseldorf trade fairs were attended by customers from about 180 countries. The Group runs a global network of sales offices in 132 countries (71 international representations) as well as competence centres in 8 countries.