Penton CEO John French’s memo to staffers on the company’s 42 layoffs:
To All Penton Employees:
Several weeks ago, I shared with everyone some of the successes that we have enjoyed in certain areas of the company including Penton’s Exhibitions Group and the success of the Expo West event. Also, Registered Rep, in the Financial Services Group, had a record first quarter, and many of our information data products are off to a strong start to the year as well. However, as I also pointed out in my note, certain areas of the company are facing challenges. As a result of these challenges, I asked our product managers to conduct a detailed business analysis. These challenges we currently face are not unique to Penton, and many of our peers and competitors are working, as we are, to adjust business models and strategy to better serve our customers.
I have spent a good deal of time with each of our product managers and members of the finance team, and together, we looked at industry trends, specific challenges and opportunities in each marketplace, and our planned responses. We now have a clearer picture and understanding of our anticipated performance for the remainder of the year.
We expect certain product groups will continue to have success. In fact, this year we have launched three new tradeshows in response to market demands for these events. Additionally, our online business continues to grow and is gaining much industry recognition for its use of online video, especially the Entertainment Technology group. We are also seeing improvement in the aviation and parts of the agricultural sectors of our business.
While we are making strides in growing our online, data products, and events components of our franchises, certain product groups continue to feel the effects of the economic downturn that has impacted much of the business-to-business media industry. As a result, parts of the business will continue to be challenged in the second half of 2008. We continue to address the need to change the revenue mix as we work to shift the business to reflect a brand-centric model with a greater digital focus. This will allow us to continue to offer our customers a full suite of products best suited for their needs, while maintaining our industry-leading positions and putting the company in a position for growth.
Nevertheless, these changes in our business require us to take new steps to control expenses, in addition to extending the salary and hiring freezes already in place. As a result, over the last two days, we have eliminated 42 positions from various areas across the company. These staff reductions are distributed across businesses, locations, and job levels. I do not take these decisions lightly, and we have made every effort to find other ways to reduce costs in order to keep staffing reductions to a minimum. Each employee whose position is being eliminated has been offered a severance package. The employees who will be leaving us have worked very hard for Penton, and we thank them for their contributions.
Penton remains a very strong company and the long-term outlook for our organization is bright. We will continue to monitor our business closely in the weeks and months ahead and will report regularly on our progress.