While other young college students at the University of Iowa were discovering chemistry and calculus, Freeman's founder Donald S. "Buck" Freeman was discovering his passion for party decorating, while pledging for a national fraternity. He turned this passion into a lifelong trade that began in 1923 with the opening of the New Idea Service Company. Then in 1927, Buck established the first Freeman Decorating Company office in Des Moines, Iowa. More than 86 years later, with that same sense of passion, Freeman has expanded into a world-class provider of integrated services for face-to-face marketing.
With approximately $1.7 billion in FY2013 revenues, family- and employee-owned Freeman services 57% of the 250 largest tradeshows in the U.S. (TSNN, 2012), is ranked 14th in Dallas' Top 50 Private Companies (Dallas Business Journal, 2012) and employs more than 4,500 full-time and 30,000 part-time associates.
Donald S. (Don) Freeman, Jr. is chairman of Freeman. Don graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1960 and served in the U.S. Navy Supply Corps. In 1964, he joined the family business founded by his father, Buck Freeman. Named executive vice president in 1968, Don served in several branch locations before moving to Dallas, where the company's headquarters was relocated in 1974. Don became president of Freeman in 1972, and was named chairman and CEO in 1977.
Don has served as an officer or director of numerous convention industry associations, including the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association, the International Association for Exhibition Management (IAEM) and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), among others. He is the past chair of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).
Recognized as one of the industry's most decorated leaders, Don has received numerous awards and honors for his many contributions. He is a member of the Convention Industry Council's Hall of Leaders and the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders. Don has received the IAEM Distinguished Service Award, the Trade Show Exhibitors Association Distinguished Service Award and the Spirit of Hospitality Award from Destination Marketing Association International. In 2011, Don was awarded the PCMA Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, Ernst & Young jointly awarded Don their Entrepreneur Of The Year Award for the Southwest Area North region along with Carrie Freeman Parsons, vice chairman and Joe Popolo, CEO.