Vale Rodd Craig
In mid-2020 I had a call from Rodd Craig who shared his concern for the mental health of workers in the events industry. Rodd talked about how over many years pre-COVID crews would sit around during breaks to catch up and chat about life in general. He pointed out that these crews would go from job to job to bump in and out (and operate) theatre shows, music concerts, exhibitions and all manner of events.
Today when you chat to business owners and industry leaders many of them talk about how they got their start by crewing – Rodd and myself included.
Was there some way, Rodd asked, that I could provide some form of platform via ASE where this chat could continue. I didn’t come up with a chat room as such but Rodd did inspire me to start my podcast series where I talked to industry figures about how they got their start – many of them as crew. I regret that despite a number of attempts the stars didn’t align for me to record Rodd’s story.
Late last year Rodd contracted cancer and despite going into remission it came back again with a vengeance. Rodd passed away last weekend.
This tribute has been put together by Matt Farthing – Director, Expo Event Services
Rodd Craig grew up in Port Fairy on the Victorian south coast. The son of a wool classer, Matt was unsure where his life experiences would lead him.
Fast forward to a young man hanging with mates who gave him the idea of getting his driver’s licence, finding a small Pantech truck, and taking contract work as a roadie and logistics manager (use of a Refidex) for a young and upcoming band.
That band was AC/DC! Rodd’s first interaction with the entertainment and events industry was one hell of a ride!
While touring, the crew would often pass the time in pups playing coin operated amusement machines, pool tables, etc. This took Rodd on the next stage of his journey, he created LARC Australia; designing, installing and managing thrill rides, attractions and entertainment for Sydney’s Luna Park along with Magic Mountain on the Gold Coast and the Canberry Fair, Canberra. This passion/side hustle continued right up until the years of COVID.
Rodd went on to join with Organisers International, an operation based in QLD which owned and operated the Courier Mail Real Estate & Property Expo and the Courier Mail Home Shows from 1987, as well as being a consultant to BRW Publications for the Personal Investment Money Shows. This introduction to exhibitions created the “Exhibition Junkie” that Rodd became.
In the late 90s, Rodd joined Exhibition Hire Services (now ExpoNet), as Director of Sales, which took him through to the Sydney Olympics. Once the games were over, he continued with ExpoNet to help facilitate their national expansion into QLD in 2001.
Rodd joined the team at Moreton Hire for a brief stint, but then he returned to ExpoNet to continue their expansion in Melbourne around 2006.
As a freelance event consultant in the early 2000s under Exhibition Event Services, Rodd launched his passion project Exhibiting Green. Perhaps before its time, a sustainable recycle solution to exhibitions, Exhibiting Green, brought the discussion of sustainability in exhibitions to the table.
A shift into the not for profit sector, Rodd joined the AMDA Foundation Limited in 2014 as Executive Manager – Event Production & Business Development. For over 6 years, Rodd headed the Event Production and Business Development for the Australian International Airshow (Avalon, Victoria); Land Forces International Defence Exposition; Pacific International Maritime Exposition, Drone Showcase Expo and Conference, plus the RotorTech Helicopter Exposition in Brisbane.
Rodd has been an active industry stalwart, sitting on numerous industry committees/boards including EEAA, he was never far from a challenging debate to ensure the industry was continuing to drive forward. In semi-retirement, Rodd has continued to put back into the industry with special projects, including consulting for Expo Event Services to assist with their expansion in the industry.
Rodd met the love of his life Mel, married in a beautiful ceremony with their family and friends overlooking the beautiful Sydney Harbour and then made the Gold Coast their home for the past 3 years.
It’s true to say apart from Mel, Rodd’s main love and passion for the exhibition industry was massive, from being the organiser, to the venue manager, a promotor to loading dock service management, he did it all. But what he most enjoyed was to attend and walk about expo floors, even if it was not his event. The catch ups with industry, talking exhibitions was what drove his dedication to the industry and awarded him that nickname, “Exhibition Junkie”.
To Rodd, thanks for the mentoring, thanks for the friendship, thanks for what you have done for our industry, thanks for making me an “Exhibition Junkie”, our team are extremely proud of your accomplishments and saddened with your passing, you will not be forgotten on any exhibition floor.
A celebration of Rodd’s life will be held at the Southport Yacht Club on Thursday 5th October 2023 from 2.00pm, formalities to begin at 2.30pm.
Please message Matt Farthing via LinkedIn or email if you have any memories or photos you wish to share on the day and to RSVP for catering by Tuesday 3rd of October. We request you wear something bright to reflect Rodd’s spark for life.
If you wish to send bright beautiful flowers to form part of the celebration, these are to be delivered to the Southport Yacht Club – 1 Macarthur Parade, Main Beach, Queensland, 4217 on the morning of the 5th of October 2023. In lieu of flowers a donation to the Cancer Council Queensland can be made.