It is not often that a global company is family-run, but Dallas-based Freeman has been under the leadership of the Freeman family since its inception 90 years ago. Carrie Freeman Parsons, the granddaughter of founder Donald S. “Buck” Freeman and daughter of Donald S. Freeman Jr., is poised to take over as company chair from her father in July. Freeman Parsons has held multiple roles with the company, including chief marketing officer and general manager of Freeman, and president of Freeman Exhibit Company. She also works with Girls, Inc., a nonprofit aimed at equipping girls with the skills to navigate gender and social barriers. She talked to MeetingsNet about growing up in the industry and looking to the future.
MeetingsNet: Growing up immersed in the industry, what have you had to unlearn to stay ahead of new trends?
Carrie Freeman Parsons: What we have had to unlearn is saying “yes” to whatever a client asks us to do and presuming that is customer service. What we’ve learned is to stop and understand what the client is really trying to achieve and then work to solve those challenges. In short, impact rather than activity.
MeetingsNet: What do you see as the biggest challenge to the industry, and how do you envision addressing it?
Freeman Parsons: The necessary speed of transformation to stay relevant to attendees and marketers. We definitely can help our clients with the answers—but there are risks and you have to move quickly.
MeetingsNet: How does keeping Freeman a family business benefit your clients?
Freeman Parsons: It boils down to trust. Our team members and clients trust that we’re in this for the long haul. We are making decisions not based on quarterly results, but by investing in the future. They trust how our culture and values work. When you are operating from a place of trust, everyone is in a better position to do their best work.
MeetingsNet: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
Freeman Parsons: My friends and family call me by my middle name: Lou or Lou Lou.