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Maritz CEO Focused on AI and Recruiting as Brand Consolidates

Skift Take

Maritz Holdings president and CEO David Peckinpaugh shared plans to streamline the company under one brand while rebuilding its workforce and implementing AI at the inaugural Skift Meetings Forum.

On Wednesday, the president and CEO of Maritz Holdings, David Peckinpaugh, discussed the restructuring of the four brands into one singular Maritz brand. He expects Maritz to embrace AI and shared plans of how the company plans to recruit and bolster its workforce. 

“We were pushing an internal model of a holdings company model on the marketplace instead of listening to how the marketplace saw and viewed us and was buying from us,” Peckinpaugh said of the company that will soon reach 130 years in business. It will be the first time in the company’s history that its presence in the marketplace is a singular brand.

As one of the largest event agencies in the world with more than 2,400 employees, the company restructure also includes the consolidation of its leadership team, which Peckinpaugh says will become more apparent in the marketplace over the next six months with the completion of the restructure expected by the end of its 2024 fiscal year.

“Simplicity is a big thing,” Peckinpaugh said of the Maritz restructure, pointing to the confusion for customer consumers and potential buyers caused by the various Maritz brands, which included Maritz Events, Maritz Research, Maritz Automotive, and Maritz Motivation. Peckinpaugh also noted the internal benefit for the brand of breaking down silos to reap the benefits of creating better collaboration within company walls. “At the end of the day, hopefully, we’re easier to do business with – that’s our ultimate goal for the customers,” he said. 

Maritz Embraces AI

Peckinpaugh also discussed the large role technology plays in the events industry and the ongoing discussion around AI and the potential impacts of the emerging technology. 

“The introduction of AI, obviously, has been part of the industry for quite a while. But now chat GPT and generative AI are dominating every and all conversations,” he said. Nearly half the time of a Maritz board meeting that took place in August was dominated by discussions of the potential impact that generative AI might have on clients and employees. He noted both the hope and the anxiety expressed around AI. 

Peckinpaugh says generative AI will be part of the equation for the company’s internal processes as well as its clients. He believes it will have a positive impact on company employees but said the company will take a balanced approach to implementing the technology, acknowledging the potential risk involved. Maritz owner Steve Maritz, along with the company’s board of directors, are eager to move forward with the implementation of AI. 

Rebuilding the Maritz Workforce

According to Peckinpaugh, Maritz is forging ahead in several key areas of restructuring the business. It is recruiting a fresh workforce after massive layoffs during the pandemic and the ensuing Great Resignation. Roughly 65% of the Maritz workforce has been new to the company over the last 18 months. Peckinpaugh, who took the reins at Maritz in January 2022, is the first CEO outside the Maritz family. 

“If you look at the talent equation, it also opened up a lot of opportunities,” Peckinpaugh said. “We have a big DEI initiative,” he said. “We’ve looked at how we now recruit differently.” Maritz had eccentrically-located offices 20 years ago in the cities of St. Louis, Detroit, and Southern California, according to Peckinpaugh. However, Maritz now has people across the U.S. from the Northwest to the Southeast. “We’re very decentralized,” he said. 

“And because of that, we’ve been able to recruit differently, we’ve been able to get some of our DEI initiatives and goals and also bring in talent that otherwise we wouldn’t miss out on because they weren’t seeing them,” he said. 

While Peckinpaugh acknowledged the new challenges of managing hybrid and remote teams, he said the modern dynamic also presents numerous opportunities. It works well for recruiting workers who might not otherwise apply to an in-office position and working with clients who prefer working internally.