By Leah Parodi
Bob Mancuso, Jr. and his family have been bringing top events to Omaha for years. They are responsible for such events as the Omaha, Health, Wellness & Fitness Expo, Triumph of Agriculture Farm Show, Taste of Omaha, The Home and Garden Expo and the Omaha Products Show. These shows not only bring in visitors from across the country, but help showcase all the best that Omaha has to offer. And bringing such wonderful events and festivals to Omaha is not only a family affair, but a testament to a family’s strong tie to the past and commitment to the future.
The Mancuso Family has long, strong and deep ties to Omaha beginning with the arrival of Giuseppe Mancuso in Omaha many years ago. “Giuseppe came from Calabria, Italy,” says Bob Mancuso, Jr. “Giuseppe settled in south Omaha and many of the original south Omaha Italians were from Calabria, living on 6th Street in Little Italy.” Giuseppe had a large family with one son being Bob Jr.’s Grandfather, Joseph. Sports and recreation soon became a Mancuso family trait as many came to work in the industry.
Bob Jr.’s father and Joseph’s son, Bob Mancuso, Sr. followed suit and became a wrestling coach at UNL. Soon though, Bob Sr. was approached by his brother (who managed the Civic Auditorium) with an opportunity for a business venture that would bring shows to Omaha. Mid-America Expositions, Inc. was formed and Bob Sr. brought the Omaha Products Show, the Triumph of Agriculture Expo and the Home and Garden Expo to Omaha, shows which are still coming to our city over 40 years later.
Today, Mid-America Expositions, Inc. offers Omaha anywhere from 10 – 15 major events each year and they produce many more. And now Bob Jr. and his two brothers are on board working with their father and carrying on the family business.
However, Bob Jr. did not start out working for the family business. After graduating from Creighton Prep High School, Bob selected the University of Colorado to play baseball. But after his freshman year baseball was dropped for budget reasons. Bob went to Iowa State University to play baseball and continue his studies. He was an Academic All American in baseball and graduated with a degree in business. Bob was ready to sign on with the Texas Rangers baseball team but instead chose to play professional baseball in Italy. “It was a great experience. It was a chance to see Europe,” he says. Bob played baseball from 1983 – 1984 with athletes from all over the world, traveled Europe and became almost fluent in Italian.
In 1985 Bob felt it was time to come back to Omaha and “get a real job.” He worked for Mutual of Omaha for over 19 years in the Customer Service Division, eventually becoming a manager and then a 1st Vice-president. Bob also earned his MBA from Creighton University. Bob then took a position as the Director of Finance for UNMC and worked there for one year until changing gears in 2005 and coming to Mid-America Expo.
In 2005, Bob Sr. needed to have a quadruple by-pass surgery. “That was the time, if I was ever going to make a move, to do so,” says Bob. “My brother, Mike, started with the company in1985 and my brother, Joe, joined in 2007.” With Bob Sr. as CEO of the company the three Mancuso Brothers are taking what their father created and expanding it. Mike coordinates the Home and Garden Expo, the Omaha Lawn, Flower and Patio Show (which is touted as the largest gardening event of the year) and the Fall Home Show. Bob directs the Omaha Products Show and the Omaha Health Expo. Joe currently handles the operations and web site and assists with all the shows.
The goal of bringing these types of shows and expos to Omaha is twofold for the Mancusos. “Trade shows help support different businesses so that they can showcase their company to potential new clients and customers in the community,” says Bob. “And they also provide fun events for all people, including families.”
And though the list of events that Mid-America Expositions, Inc. brings to the Omaha area is long and varied, the one recurring theme that the Mancusos strive for is family fun. “We want to make these events fun for the whole family,” says Bob. He adds that kids are included on every level whether through kid friendly fun runs, bike events to bouncy houses and events designed just for them.
Bob enjoys bringing the Annual Health Expo, which was held on April 30 and May 1st of this year, to Omaha. This event focuses on the mind, body and spirit of all. Wanting to make this a fun family event, Bob made sure that there were plenty of fun activities for all ages. Clinics on baseball, softball, football, basketball, karate, tennis and other sports were offered. Fun runs, a walk to support MS and a bike ride to support trail development were also held.
With Bob’s baseball background, it’s no wonder that he is especially excited about the family opportunities that will be available at the All Sports Expo that will coincide with the College World Series at the new downtown stadium this summer. “We were asked to help and bring an event downtown,” he says. “This will be a sports extravaganza at the Qwest Center with so many fun things for the whole family on opening weekend of the College Baseball Tournament held on June 18 – 19.”
Not only will the All Sports Expo celebrate the new traditions of the College Baseball Tournament, but major sports companies will be bringing the latest and best technology for sports and equipment for adults and kids. Softball, baseball, football and other sports fans will be able to attend seminars and see demonstrations and also be able to enter numerous prize drawings and give-aways. “There will be a lot of local flavor too,” says Bob. “The Strike Zone and Omaha Storm Chasers will be there as well as many other local businesses.”
Bob’s desire to create events that are family friendly stems from his close working relationships with his brothers and his own family. Bob and his wife, Vania, are celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary this spring and have four children; Bobby III, Lia, Bella and Marco. And it’s no wonder that all of Bob and Vania’s children are active in a wide variety of sports…in keeping with the Mancuso family trait.
Mid-America Expositions, Inc. is looking forward to the future. “We want to continue to bring top events, fun events to Omaha and create strong events with different flavors,” says Bob. In addition to sports, home and health expos, the company plans to continue the festivals and fun music events. “As a company we need to be aware of changes and be flexible to be able to continue to modify, change and improve so that the festivals, events and shows do well.”
Their schedule for 2011 is full of fun, educational and exciting events such as the 3rd Annual O Fest, 21st Annual Corporate Cycling Challenge, the 24th Biennial Omaha Products Show and in early 2012, the 15th Annual Outland Trophy Award Dinner. To find a full and complete list of events and locations visit www.showofficeonline.com.
And as the Mancuso Family Tree continues to grow and expand in Omaha, as will the wonderful family events put on by Bob and the team at Mid-America Expositions, Inc. Grazie Giuseppe!