SANTA MONICA, Calif.--You'll have to excuse Joe Loggia if he doesn't get too rattled by the mini crises that inevitably crop up while putting on one of the country's biggest trade shows. After feeling the whoosh of a thug's bullet whizzing by your ear, dealing with complaints about booth location and hotel accommodations from cranky manufacturers and retailers must seem like a minor inconvenience. Loggia, who was named chief operating officer for MAGICInternational in March, came to the apparel business after a 10-year career as a cop and five years as an accountant. The combination of his careers brought him to the top operations post at MAGIC, where he runs day-to-day business from his plush 10th story office, here. Loggia sees similarities between his nights in a squad car and his days walking the aisles at the trade show, which will draw some 6,000 exhibitors and 73,000 attendees, Aug. 28-31 in Las Vegas. "Putting on a trade show and being a police officer are both about customer service," said Loggia, who with his partner in the mid-Eighties captured the notorious Westside Rapist. "I loved police work," added Loggia. "It was fascinating. It's one of the few jobs where you can see first-hand the positive effect you're having on people's lives." After a string of back injuries forced him to retire from police work, he took up accounting and joined Coopers & Lybrand as an auditor. Loggia and a colleague, who was a former FBI agent, initiated a program that investigated corporate internal fraud. "I understood how the criminal mind thinks, where to investigate, what questions to ask," said Loggia, who is 36. "And I also had the finance and accounting skills to follow the paper trail." In 1993, he was asked to audit the books for MAGIC International. MAGIC's 15-member board was so impressed with his auditing that Loggia was asked to come on board as chief financial officer and was subsequently named chief operating officer. "This is a very people-intense business, just like police work," said Loggia. "You have relationships with a lot of people. In the past, if you look at trade shows overall, there hasn't been a big focus on customer service. We've always had a weakness in customer service. We were just not quite service-oriented." Loggia has tried to change that. It was his idea to assign each exhibitor a customer-service agent. In the past, exhibitors were merely sent a letter welcoming them into the show. But now, "There is somebody they can call and establish a relationship with. We call every exhibitor to answer any questions. We developed a checklist for them to look over on how to be successful at MAGIC--what to do before they get to the show, what to do during move-in, at the show and move-out." Of his accounting skills, Loggia said: "It's looking at the financial aspects and trying to make sure that there is control over what not only MAGIC but the exhibitors have to spend when they come to our show. We're always trying to make it the best deal possible." This month's MAGIC International will be the biggest ever. This year, buyer attendance jumped 20 percent to 72,000 last February from 60,000 at the September 1994 show. Exhibitor attendance has doubled since the show moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles in 1989. Loggia expects more than 73,000 buyers and other apparel and retail executives will flock to the 1.7 million square feet of space at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel Convention Complex for this month's event. Seminars, bus service and an opening-night party featuring Earth, Wind & Fire are just a few of the perks MAGIC has in store. "We're a big show," said Loggia. "But we operate on a small-show, interpersonal basis. That's the goal--to make all companies feel important, whether they have one booth or 10." Almost immediately after the final booth has been dismantled and the last guests have returned home, Loggia will start planning the next show, slated for Jan. 30-Feb. 2. "We analyze what just happened at this show," he said. "We take a very critical look at everything that didn't go exactly how we wanted. It doesn't do us any good to look at what we do well. I want to make sure that we're constantly striving to do better.
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