Countless business relationships and longtime friendships started at the association’s conferences. Here are a few stories shared by members.

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When Jovita Met Sally
“There used to be a networking breakfast where vendors could sit with airline reps and get to know them. I sat down at a table with the IFE manager of Air New Zealand (Sally Lythgo) and as it happened, she was there to look for Asian content, and I was with a company that distributed it. Professionally, we clicked, but beyond that we also became great friends, and even though we have both moved on to different companies, we remain very close to this day.” –  Jovita Toh, Encore Inflight

Off to Dubai
“I have several such friendships, but one of my favorites is with Patrick Brannelly. I was one of the first studios to fly to Dubai to meet with Emirates. At the time I went, I walked down the stairs, off the aircraft, onto the tarmac. The terminal looked like Hollywood Burbank Airport, but there was nothing small about Emirates’ vision. It was among the first airlines to install the multichannel AV systems throughout the aircraft. At that time, Emirates, Patrick in particular, worked with the hardware and software providers to get what they needed to make this venture the huge success it became.”  Linda Palmer, formerly of Walt Disney Studios

First-Gen Friends
“I would never have met John McMahon had it not been for working with him on that very first conference. We became fast friends, and later John came to work for our company. We were such good friends that his wife often called me ‘the other woman.’ I’ve had the chance to stay at the McMahons’ home in Florida. John is one of my best friends and still is today, even though we’re coasts apart.”  – Cindy Tarver, AEA co-founder

From Amsterdam to Taiwan
“After leaving Airshow in 1995, I attended WAEA in Amsterdam, wanting to become an IFE consultant, and met an old acquaintance from Boeing: Steve Kuo. Steve had just retired and had gone back to Taiwan to start an IFE program at the Industrial Technology Research Institute. He was glad to learn that I was no longer employed, and I was glad to have a consulting gig! I learned a lot about Taiwan over the next few years as we became close friends, and it is on my list of best-things-to-happen-at-a-conference to this day.” – Rich Salter, consultant

It’s a Whale!
“The APEX event that has had the longest-lasting impact on my life is Orlando 1997. I walked into the Spafax booth during set-up day and met Chantal Goulet, a colleague from the Montreal office. I introduced myself and her opening line was, ‘So you are Whale!’ She would often see the faxes I sent to my colleague Raymond Girard and thought that was how my name was pronounced. This June, we celebrate our 20-year wedding anniversary and have son Noé (18 years old), daughter Florence (13 years old) and our golden Labrador, Biggles (nine years old). Through APEX, I have met some of my closest friends, business partners and many amazingly talented people, but most importantly my wife!”    Walé Adepoju, business strategist

The Vintage Group
“Since retirement, several of us in Southern California formed a group called the Vintage Group. We all live close by and meet every three months. Pam Ryan is the president and the group consists of some people who were once competitors. About six or eight of us show up every time. We just get together for lunch and because we are so old, we probably tell the same stories over and over again. Nobody remembers, so we still get a laugh out of it.” Peter Daniello, formerly of Trans Com

Off Hours
“My friendship with Joan Barker got a boost when we took on the Education Committee together. This was probably 1996 or 1997. We spent a few evenings at my kitchen table, brainstorming and developing plans, sending out questionnaires, but mostly discovering that we worked really well together and enjoyed each other’s company. A lovely friendship evolved, and we have seen each other a lot over the years. To give you a flavor, we skied the Whistler slopes together, shopped for shirts in Washington, DC, and for scarves in Delhi, and had chocolate mousse in Paris with our mutual friend Jean-Pierre from Air France.”   Sophie Vossenaar, formerly of KLM

The Board and Beyond
“There have been quite a few lasting friendships from my time on the board. People like Kevin Bremer, who I got to know really well. It’s great to be able to consider someone like him a friend as much as a colleague, because you end up spending a lot of time with people during conferences. Sometimes you end up having breakfast, lunch and dinner over meetings. I also got to know customers like Patrick Brannelly from a different perspective – away from the battle of sitting opposite each other while negotiating.” Neil James, Signal Lamp Entertainment

Support System
“One of my closest relationships that I’ve developed through APEX is with Joe Leader. We’ve developed a strong friendship over the years, and I’ve looked up to him as a mentor as well. He’s really helped me through a couple of the changes that have happened to me work-wise. And we’ve worked pretty closely on a number of the events. I pretty much go to every single event every year, apart from the MultiMedia Market. There are several others, including Rich Salter and Michael Childers, who spring to mind.” Jon Norris, FlightPath3D

“We Met at Expo” was originally published as a sidebar to “Social Club” in the 9.4 September/October issue of APEX Experience magazine.