• Mark Hokanson

“It Can Be Done at 41”: One Man’s Second Act to Improve Business, Community, and Life

Milwaukee, WI: Working in a family business certainly has its perks. Mark Hokanson, president of ExpoMilwaukee, will be the first to sing the praises of his family built trade show display company located in the heart of Milwaukee:

“I’ve enjoyed 22 years in the trade show industry, many of those years as president of my own company. I’ve built ExpoMilwaukee from the ground up by carrying the best of the best, we’re talking premium engineered trade show displays and beautiful graphics, all offered with a personal touch and primarily American made. After high school I went directly into the trade show industry and hit the ground running. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, until I realized something was absent from my clients’ experience.”

Despite Hokanson’s established success in the trade show display industry, over time he felt

there was “an absence in the overall experience.” Hokanson wanted to continue to offer an

intimate, Milwaukee hospitality feel to his business, but he also wanted to share his business more broadly and competitively. Hokanson reflects, “...in short, ExpoMilwaukee was

underrepresented, and that was not acceptable. I knew we needed a major upgrade in visibility, which meant we needed to sharpen and get creative with our marketing techniques. I started talking to colleagues and scheduling informational interviews. After gathering information, it became clear that getting a marketing degree was in my best interest.”

Fast forward to May of 2019: while running ExpoMilwaukee full-time, Hokanson graduated with a degree in Marketing Management from Milwaukee Area Technical College. He says of his experience:

“At first glance, it looks redundant to enjoy 22 years selling trade show displays only to go back to school at 39 to get a degree in Marketing Management. But it’s all been worth it. In this day and age, you have to understand all the ins and outs of marketing. It’s key to becoming a first place competitor. Milwaukee Area Technical College gave me those tools and then some. Running a company full-time and going to school full-time was tough, but the struggle improved ExpoMilwaukee’s competitive edge, and it definitely improved me as an overall person. I became ready for the next step, so to speak.”

Hokanson’s next steps have included new cutting-edge social media strategies which have

boosted his presence on social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But perhaps his greatest achievement has been the launch of ExpoMilwaukee’s new website.

Of the new website Hokanson comments, “We have collaborated with a number of extremely talented Milwaukee folks to help launch this site, including a marketing, design and public relations agency, and a graphic designer, photographer and videographer that I met while going to school at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Our search engine optimization and thus our internet presence has gone through the roof, which has been priority number one for ExpoMilwaukee.”

Hokanson’s new graphic designer, photographer and videographer, Jordan Deiss, is currently interning at ExpoMilwaukee in order to complete his degree. Of his work, Mark beamed, “We couldn’t have spearheaded such a clean, sleek and user friendly website without Jordan’s help. He is truly an up and coming digital marketing phenom!”

With Deiss’ successful website upgrade, Hokanson decided to recognize local students’ talent

and partner with Milwaukee Area Technical College to offer internships for marketing students. “There’s a ton of talent right here in Milwaukee, and I intend to give back to the community by showcasing some of our best and brightest.”

With the advent of the website launch, improved social media strategies and the addition of new and local Milwaukee talent, Mark Hokanson of ExpoMilwaukee has seriously upgraded his business, his life, and most importantly, his client community. You can find him by going to ExpoMilwaukee.com. And remember, for those of you in your second act, “It can be done at 41!”

About ExpoMilwaukee: With over 35 years combined trade show industry experience,

ExpoMilwaukee is proud to employ a professional team that will guide you through the aisles of the trade show experience, all the way from concept to creation. Whether you are a veteran exhibitor or new to the floor, we will provide quality products and efficient counseling to you whenever and wherever you need it. Our vast offerings of portable, modular and custom trade show displays will have you covered. At ExpoMilwaukee, our Exhibitors are Front and Center.


© 2019 by Expo Milwaukee

2018 S. 1st St. Suite #304

Milwaukee, WI 53207