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Ken Broadbent Receives the ECN, I&D Hall of Fame Posthumous Award

I was asked to write a short reason on why Ken Broadbent is being nominated for an ACE Award in the posthumous category. The award is given as a reflection of something achieved to a deserving individual and recognizing the individual for being who they were and what they stood for, and more importantly what they gave back to the tradeshow community. The easy part is telling you why Ken is so deserving of the recognition, the difficult part is keeping it short.

The best way to keep it short is to simply tell the truth about Ken. No need to think up adjectives or embellish on any story. Here is what Ken was about to me. Truth, it’s that simple, Ken was the truth.

Whether he was mentoring a co-worker, lending a helping hand or listening to someone who needed to confide in somebody, there wasn’t anyone better than Ken at making you feel confident about yourself. Ken had an uncanny ability to convince people they could accomplish what they felt they never could. Although he was a private sort of a fellow, and often hesitated giving advice, he would offer his opinion if asked and then support you in your decision.

He had his stubborn side but never hesitated to be opened minded. He had a deep loud boisterous tone when the situation demanded it, but one of the most soft-spoken people you would ever meet.

He was confident in himself as he was confident in the people he mentored. If you shared something with Ken in confidence you never had to worry about it leaking out, ever. Ken loved to share, whether it was fish he caught, or knowledge to be passed on. You see, he enjoyed sharing his life experiences and looked forward to teaching others what he had learned, and he always smiled when he was sharing.

I travel around the country and visit many convention centers, and even though eight years have slipped by without Ken, there is never a shortage of “Let me take you back” (a quote that we all came to endear from Ken) stories about a truly remarkable person. The above is all Truth, no made up adjectives, simply Truth.

For all that have been nominated for this recognition, I am sure everyone is deserving in the eyes of the people who knew them. I believe that when Ken’s name is announced as a nominee that there will be an overwhelming nod of approval by an overwhelming number of people who knew him and understand why he should be recognized. I couldn’t be prouder to submit this short note and only regret that I didn’t have the luxury of writing a long, long list of reasons, and the fact that this is being presented posthumously.

With great respect to Ken, his family and the tradeshow community,

Scott Rudel


ShoLink, Inc.

Co-worker Testimonials:

Not a month goes by without someone within Sho-Link mentioning Ken Broadbent to me and sharing the impact he had on their life. He made time to answer questions, to give thoughtful guidance, to let the people around them know he would look after their best interests, and to willingly share his expertise. His eye for spotting talent led to some amazing additions to our organization, many of whom still remain employees. He had an eye for detail, a passion for craftsmanship, and intense loyalty. Our friend Ken was an honorable man who we could always count on, and it was our privilege to have him name Sho-Link his home for so many years.—Colleen Johnson, corporate VP, ShoLink

My name is Jeff Novotny, and I had known Kenny for almost 40 years and he was my best friend. We shared our love of the outdoors by fishing and hunting across the country. He was an avid sportsman and mariner, loving to spend as much of his time in nature as possible. His love of life was contagious and his humor unparalleled.

We had shared many experiences, both good and bad over the years, with the best being when he met the love of his life, Renee. He shared his vast life experiences with me, as I listened in amazement to all he had seen and accomplished, from being a Marine in Vietnam, hiking through Canada and working in a fish cannery, to subterranean marine salvage. He had done it all.

He was a master carpenter and a man among men. I miss him and think of him daily and am honored to have had him in my life and call him my friend.

-- Jeff Novotny


It is with great sadness that we all share in the loss of a kindred spirit in the industry. There are precious few of us who can say “we remember when” in this industry like Ken could. Our lives are better for having known and worked with him and yet they will never be the same now that he is gone. Please know that there are many who will take a moment to reflect on how he touched us.

--Tony Andrews, Derse

I was able to talk with Ken recently and we shared some old stories from our first getting together in the early days of Sho-Link and watching it grow, getting together on projects, and having a few drinks and a lot of laughs over the years. He was an energetic and tireless worker and he cherished his getting together with friends with the same great enthusiasm.

-- John Fricke, Derse

My heart is out to you and your family on your loss. Kenny was a good man and friend of mine. I am also from Oak Lawn and knew Kenny from the late 60s. I went to school with his brothers at OLCHS. I started down at McCormick Place in 1985 working out of the carpenter labor pool. Kenny was running labor for The Freeman Company at the time and saw me in the pool and called me out and gave me my first job in the tradeshow business. Down the road he hooked me up to other companies to work for. He introduced me to Al Scaccia who also worked for Freeman at the time and now the CEO. Kenny helped me out a lot over the years. Kenny backed his men up at all times and what a great leader. We all will miss him. You and your family were very lucky and fortunate to have a good man like him.

--Al Herbold, The Expo Group

I express my deepest regards to the Broadbent family as well as to the Sho-Link family of friends. Ken was always a beacon of light and positive encouragement when approaching industry challenges. He will be missed and always remembered in the expo community of dedicated people who kept our passions alive. Special thanks to Ken and all for helping to mentor my daughter who always refers to her experience there in a positive way.

--Larry Kulchawik

I am very sorry for your loss! I worked with Kenny for many years on show floor. Loved seeing his smiling face. I knew whatever the issue it would be taken care of with Kenny. I will think of him at my next Chicago show and I will greatly miss him!!

-– Margaret Boettcher, Derse

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