AVS Historical Persons | Edward P. Greeley - 1994

Edward P. Greeley - 1994

Oral History Interview with Edward P. Greeley

Interviewed by Rey Whetten & Nancy Hammond
December 14, 1994

WHETTEN: I am Treasurer of the American Vacuum Society. It's December 14, 1994, and we're sitting here in our new offices of the American Vacuum Society on 120 Wall Street, the 32nd floor. We've been here for about a year and a half. Today, we have with us Ed Greeley. Ed has been a long-time member of the American Institute of Physics, and has handled our exhibits for the American Vacuum Society for a great many years. Ed, when did you first join AIP?

greeley.JPGGREELEY: I came to AIP in 1959, straight out of grade school. I first became associated with the American Vacuum Society in 1963. It was November 23, 1963 when Bill Lange and Luther Preuss and Dan Alpert and, I think Bob Jepsen, came into our office and we discussed the journal of the American Vacuum Society. Everybody seems to remember where they were when John Kennedy got shot, and that's when we first became acquainted with the American Vacuum Society. No analogy, folks! We just thought about doing a journal those days. We weren't sure if it was going to be a bi-monthly or a quarterly. It probably became a bi-monthly in 1964. For the exhibits, I first got associated with the exhibits from 1965. We had a show at the New York Hilton. Tony Massino from Varian Associates was the exhibits coordinator for the Society, and they asked AIP to help at the show. So, Ted Vorburger, my predecessor, asked myself and somebody else to go. The following year, 1966, we went to San Francisco and we handled it full-time for the Society and have done so ever since. At that time, we held it at the Masonic Temple in San Francisco, which was not a great place to have a show, but we managed to put the show in without breaking up too many marble columns and too much of the concrete flooring!

WHETTEN: Was the show successful right from the beginning? Or did it take a number of years to...?

GREELEY: It worked out well, but at that time, it was pretty much just vacuum pumping components and small instrumentation. We had about 51 companies. Let me see. My memory's pretty good, but I just brought something to make sure that was correct1. In 1965, the Statler Hilton in New York, there were 67 companies and 97 booths. At the Masonic Temple in San Francisco, the next year in 1966, we had the full-time management. We had 65 companies and 99 booths. So, two less companies but two more booths [Laughter] 

WHETTEN: Success!

GREELEY: Now we're up to about 206 companies, and we had 311 booths this past October in Denver, but we have been up to as much as 328, which was in Boston in 1989. We'll probably go up to 350 in a couple years. We can get more companies and people are taking more booths. It's a real good concentration because our exhibitors are also advertisers, so the advertising in JVST also takes exhibit space, and the show has worked out well over the years. We had some interesting things happen. In 1975, in Philadelphia, we had the show close down twice. Company exhibitors wanted to break down their equipment by themselves, so we had a group of angry carpenters with their hands up in the air, so we stopped breaking down the show for a while. Then they blew the whistle one more time. The next day, we got on the phone with the mayor and got things straightened up. Now we're going to go there in 1996. The conditions have improved considerably since that time. We're going to go to a brand-new exhibit hall. In 1975, we met in the old hall, which is about three miles away from the hotel. We had a shuttle bus service. Nobody liked it. Everybody wants to go up to their room once in a while and relax instead of getting on a bus to go back to their place ten miles away, when it wasn't quite that far for us in those days. But it's been very exciting over the years. We've had some good shows and fully attended shows, but overall, it's been managed to grow in size. It's tied in pretty much with the strength of the program. As strong as the program is, then we attract more exhibitors. It's not just on the part of the AIP, although I will take some credit for it. But the program does influence the size of the show. It's been a lot of fun over the years.

WHETTEN: Didn't you feel the effects of the cutbacks in the manufacturers across the country? Does that reduce the size of the show? Or is that something that...?

GREELEY: It hasn't dipped down to 300 booths over the past seven or eight years. It did dip down a little bit in Seattle, but that was economic, and now we've come back. Now the show is very successful. The attendance was about 30% to 32%, as I recall, in previous years. The short courses were oversubscribed, the hotel rooms, we ran out of those. I think the show is so well established now as the premier show in the country. I recall back in '72, we were up in Chicago for another show, and Varian had just come up with the first Auger. And I asked someone from Varian, "Gee, I just heard last week you're just working night and day." I say, "Why'd you cut it so close?" He says, "We didn't want to give the competition any chance to get in there." [Laughter]


GREELEY: This is really tough in this country, the way they---They get the new instrumentation ready for our show, for the AVS show, and it's gratifying.

WHETTEN: It's the premier show in the country, you called it.

GREELEY: Premier show in the country for new instrumentation. SemiCon West will be a bigger show. It's going to attract more people. But we have the show which attracts the people showing new instruments.

WHETTEN: Is that right? That's very interesting.

GREELEY: It's been that way for the past, I think, couple of decades, it's fair to say. They introduced their new products in JVST and they introduced their new parts at the show. I recall, I guess the Fairmont Hotel, we were there in 1978, and that was kind of funny to have an exhibit held in the grand ballroom of the most illustrious hotel in the country. During the course of the show, we had those little guns where you shoot those little darts out of them, and the guys had gotten a little flaky, I guess, as they tried to set up the show, and they were shooting those little dart guns and filled up the chandeliers in the grand ballroom with all these little funny darts. It didn't make the Fairmont too happy, but we got away with it!
I remember the first show that we had in Seattle in 1969. Jim Lafferty, I think, was President. It was held on Halloween day; well, one of the three days was Halloween day. So I came down the second day of the show, and the guys had decorated their booths, the whole row, in Halloween colors. They were dressed as goblins! I say, "Guys, knock it off. Come on, change. You've got to change! We've got the show in one hour. Get out of those outfits!" So they got rid of all the yellow drapings and they got dressed. And that was the year we went over to Tillicum Village for that feast of salmon.

WHETTEN: Oh, the Indian... I remember that, yeah.

GREELEY: The Indian reservation. We had an open bar in those days, too. Transferred a few miles across the lake there, Puget Sound. It was great. Yeah, we've had a lot of fun over the years.

HAMMOND: Do you remember that one of the boats broke down on the way back from that Tillicum Village?

GREELEY: Oh yes, I do recall that, yes.

WHETTEN: The boat broke down?

GREELEY: Yes, there was a problem with that. I do recall being very disturbed by the fact that the open bar was going on the whole time. We didn't even think about insurance, though!

HAMMOND: The guys were down there pumping by hand and trying to get the boat back to the dock. [Laughter]. It was a manual pump, like those you see on little railcars and the men were pumping to get the thing back to shore because the engine had quit. All that on top of the dinner! 

GREELEY: Yeah, I recall that now, Nancy. That did happen. In those years, Dick Riegert, who was president of Sloan Instrument Corporation, which later became Sloan Technology, had a tradition of buying maybe eight crates of beer and bringing them around and giving them to all the exhibitors at the end of the show. In this particular year, he made a mistake and gave it to the union people. We lost a few! They couldn't take care of the show because they were bombed out of their minds. I told him "Don't give it to the other guys; only give it to exhibitors!" He kept doing it for years and it was fine as long as he restricted it to exhibitors and not to the guys breaking down the show. He was good about it. It just happened that one time! Lots of interesting things in Seattle!

HAMMOND: Things got stuffed into odd corners in Seattle, and one of the things was the journal office. They put that in the cloakroom, down at one end. All of a sudden, in came these people and hooked up a tape recorder, or whatever they had, and started practicing, I don't know, the highland fling or something. Paul Redhead2 was going nuts and it turned out they had a performance scheduled or something and they weren't leaving for anything!

GREELEY: The Theater for the Performing Arts was next to the Convention Center: just a 9-iron away!

HAMMOND: Right! They didn't leave!

GREELEY: And it was Halloween time, so anything could happen!

HAMMOND: And just about did!

GREELEY: I recall in the Boston show---this was 1989 or '90, where a fire alarm kept going off in the exhibit hall. They didn't have that under control for quite a while. After a while, you shouldn't do it, but you don't pay attention to the alarm because you figure, "Oh, the thing isn't working again." It could be the wrong answer to take, but it's a common fault. Yeah, there was some good stuff over the years. You became involved in the shows.

HAMMOND: '67 in Pittsburgh!

GREELEY: Yeah. Well, that was Jack Singleton. He was operating as chairman. '68 was Kansas City.

HAMMOND: No, '66.

GREELEY: '68 was Pittsburgh. '67 was Kansas City.

HAMMOND: Really?

GREELEY: Mm-hmm [yes]. Let me check my notes again. Time out. I don't go all the way, but...Muehlbach Hotel in 1967. That's when Bill Schleuning went up there to Harry Truman's suite and played the marvelous piano.

HAMMOND: It was before my time.

GREELEY: Yeah. '68 was Pittsburgh. '69 was Seattle. '70 was Washington, D.C. '71 is Boston. '72 is the Palmer House. '73 was the Americana Hotel, which is now the Sheraton. '74 was the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. '75 was the Philadelphia Civic Center, which was the trouble with the unions. '76 we went back to the Palmer House. It was election year, I guess. I recall Brooke Thorley because he was the one--- 

WHETTEN: Yes. I was President, and I couldn't find anybody to be Local Arrangements Chairman. I was actually thinking of doing it from New York. It was great to find Brooke Thorley, who somebody suggested to me. He really helped us out. He was terrific.

GREELEY: Ted Kennedy came to make a speech. At the time he was coming to make a speech, Brooke Thorley says, "No, you can't go through with it right now. The show is still on. You've got to wait 15 minutes." Then he comes through with about six bodyguards. He was a very impressive guy in those days. He was a big guy, and he was going through the hall. In '78, we went to the Fairmont Hotel. '79 was Sheraton Center; back in New York for the second time. 1980 was Detroit Plaza Hotel. '81 was Disneyland Hotel. Back there, it was always successful. '82 was the Baltimore Convention Center. That was the first of a couple of times at the Baltimore.

HAMMOND: That was the International Conference3.

GREELEY: But the International was '86.

HAMMOND: Oh, right.

GREELEY: Yeah. International is trying to be every 15 years, I guess. But International was in 1971 in Boston, 1986 in Baltimore, and now we're making a pitch for 2001. But the Australians have been in competition with us.

WHETTEN: For San Francisco?

GREELEY: For San Francisco. Everybody's favorite city. We have good rates negotiated with San Francisco, and there are lots of little boutique hotels nearby where we can put the people on per diem there, too. It should be very nice.

WHETTEN: What do you see as the future of the AVS? Do you think it'll grow, or do you think that we've peaked out?

GREELEY: Oh, we're going to grow. We can never go back to a hotel. 1991 was Chicago, and we just squeezed every bit of space into the hotel at the Hyatt. And before that we were at the Hilton down in Atlanta, and we used every telephone in the hotel. We took every piece of juice they had. All of the electrical outlets were used. I was really worried about that show. There was a brown-out in that hotel, and we just had to go to centers from now on.

WHETTEN: Is that right?

GREELEY: I don't think there's a hotel in the country that could fit us, is there?

HAMMOND: No, there's not. Maybe in Las Vegas.

GREELEY: Maybe the Opryland, but that means you have to spend a week in Nashville! [Laughter] 

WHETTEN: We could cut this out, because you're on camera now! [Laughter] 

GREELEY: I'm not putting down Nashville, but you'd really have to stay at the Opryland Hotel for a whole week. There's no Metropolitan Museum next to it. There's no theater. There's nothing much to do except stay at the hotel.

WHETTEN: We may go to Opryland and do that.

GREELEY: Yeah, you do that. [Laughter] But essentially, we have to go to centers from now on, and big hotels. Big centers which are affordable to us and have 2,000 or 2,500 rooms within a five-block or six-block walk, and do it from there. You know, I think the show is going to grow. They'll grow at a slower rate, probably, but unless something happens, what happened to the lasers and the optics---if something dramatic happens, a new instrumentation will force a whole bunch of new companies. Otherwise, I don't see it growing in leaps and bounds. I see it growing gradually. Do you see anything in the future that might cause it to spurt and grow? We have another division now.

WHETTEN: Well, we're really going into new emerging areas, but I don't know where the growth---and particularly in the manufacturing side - it's really going to make a big difference. I mean, certainly now with Manufacturing Technology and Biomaterials, there are fields that are certainly a very keen interest scientifically. And I'm sure there'll be others.

GREELEY: Yeah. I just don't see the point in associating with the technology right away. That would be downstream. I don't envision it right now. But the conventions are a very important thing for the AVS. The short courses are, what are they, like 12 years old now, and doing really well. 

WHETTEN: Do you want to say something about your present job with AIP? You just got some promotion. It's slightly different, at least.

GREELEY: Yeah. It's a fancy title called Director of Business Development and Society Services. I really get more involved with the different societies to offer our services to them to see if we can do some work for the societies for which we don't do the show or some other work. We're based out in Woodbury now, which is about 35 miles from Times Square, New York. I'm still going to keep my hand on two shows---the AVS show and the APS show---as part of the deal.

WHETTEN: Is that right?

GREELEY: Yes. I'm still with those two shows, which I grew up with. But we want to get more involved in the international conferences, some joint public conventions with international societies and peer groups, and engineering as well. We're talking with the IEEE, with the French Physical Society, with the Japanese Physical Society, and some other ones for some joint conferences and possibly public conventions. So it's a little bit different from what I was doing before in the past. I was director of advertising exhibits from 1969 when I took over from my predecessor, Ted Vorburger, until this year, 1994. So 25 years being involved with strictly advertising exhibits; now going to go into other areas. So it's real fun. I need something to help me keep me on my toes. [Laughs] I think that pretty much sums it up.

WHETTEN: Thanks very much, Ed. We really appreciate you coming down.

GREELEY: It's nice being here.

WHETTEN: Hope you come often to our new digs here.

GREELEY: I will come here, especially on sunny days. Thank you.

1. For a full list of Symposia and locations, see the e-book "50 Years of AVS" in the History section of the AVS web site: www.avs.org
2. Paul Redhead was the Editor of the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology
3. The International Vacuum Congress of the International Union for Vacuum Science, Techniques and Application.

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