HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has named Michael Waugh of Shrewsbury Township, York County, as executive director of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Waugh resigned from the state senate on Sunday.
“We are honored Mike has agreed to take on the job of directing the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Expo Center,” said Corbett, “Under Mike’s leadership, I know our center will remain the world standard for showcasing the business of agriculture … and the values of the Pennsylvania farmer.”
Waugh served York County in the Pennsylvania Senate for 15 years and the House of Representatives for six years, where he was an advocate for agriculture and worked to advance legislation that supported agricultural families and businesses. Prior to public service, he was managing partner of Waugh Construction Company for 18 years.
Waugh is owner and operator of Glen Ridge Farms, an equine, grain and hay operation. He regularly competes with his draft horses in hitch competitions at the complex. He currently chairs the draft horse departments of the Keystone International Livestock Exposition, held at the complex each October, and the York Fair Heavy Horse Hitch Show. Waugh served for nearly 15 years as a Farm Show Commissioner.
Waugh replaces Patrick Kerwin, who is retiring after serving as the facility’s director since 2005. Kerwin will be serving in an advisory capacity over the next several months as Waugh transitions into his new role.
“Pat Kerwin brought a wealth of experience in hospitality management to the Farm Show Complex,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “In the eight years he has served the complex, his commitment to customer service and strategic approach to leveraging new business opportunities helped grow the complex into the region’s premier event facility.”
Kerwin has increased the facility’s revenue by 20 percent by reducing energy and operating costs and entering into innovative public-private partnerships with Weis Markets, Ford, Nationwide Insurance and Highmark that total $225,000 annually. He also has increased occupancy in major halls by four percent.
“I thank Pat Kerwin for his leadership to bring the complex to where it is today, and I will build on that tradition of excellence to grow this facility,” said Waugh. “I look forward to working with Pat as I transition into this new role.”
As director, Waugh will work to:
- Secure a steady funding stream for complex operations by enhancing private partnerships and exploring new business opportunities;
- Identify and implement efficiencies that reduce operating costs;
- Enhance the regional and national perception of the complex as a modern and complete facility for commercial and convention events and meetings;
- Preserve the reputation of the complex as a premier host of local, regional, national and international agricultural events; and
- Finalize, implement and monitor the complex’s ongoing strategic planning process to address current and future needs, including capital improvements and staff training.
“We’ll miss Mike’s straightforward approach to being a legislator,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25). “He has provided steady, no-nonsense leadership on agricultural issues ever since he was first elected to the General Assembly, and the hole he leaves behind in the Senate won’t easily be filled. I know he’ll do a great job at the Farm Show and look forward to working with him in that capacity for many years to come.”
“Mike has been a tremendous advocate for the citizens of the 28th district, a leading voice on agricultural issues in Pennsylvania, and a valued member of Senate Republican leadership,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9). “I hate to see him leave the Senate, but he’s perfect for this new position. I wish him all the best.”
The 24-acre Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center hosts more than 300 events and meetings and welcomes in excess of one million visitors annually. It features nearly one million square feet of flexible exhibit space under one roof and can host a variety of events and meetings at the same time. In 2010, the building was remodeled and is now home to the Keystone Conference Center, adding more options for smaller meetings.
Each year, the complex brings more than $350 million in economic impact into the Harrisburg area from visitor spending at restaurants, hotels and shopping and tourism spots. The building’s namesake event in January brings more than 500,000 visitors, while the Great American Outdoor Show is expected to draw more than 200,000 visitors in February.
For more information, visit www.pafarmshowcomplex.com.