The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) has announced that David Willrich, managing director of DJ Willrich is the new president-elect, unanimously chosen by the TEA International Board to lead the Association.
The TEA is a non-profit membership association founded in Burbank, CA in 1991 for the creators of compelling places and experiences in the global attractions industry. Today, the TEA serves more than 1,200 member companies with four divisions spanning North America, Europe and Middle East, and Asia Pacific.
Willrich will officially take office in November 2016, succeeding Steve Birket of Birket Engineering, who is completing his second one-year term.
“David Willrich is an ideal choice to carry the TEA vision forward at this time,” said Steve Birket. “He has already made great contributions. His leadership of the TEA Europe and Middle Eastern Division (EME), and the TEA SATE Academy Day program he originated are tremendous assets that continue to benefit our organisation and the themed entertainment industry. David has the international perspective and experience the TEA president needs.”
Willrich has served eight years in leadership positions within TEA, first on the TEA EME division board, then as TEA EME president, then as a member of the TEA international board and executive committee. His company provides AV system design and integration for attractions, museums and heritage sites around the world, primarily in Europe, the Middle East and North America.
Willrich will be the second TEA president based in Europe, and the third from outside the US (past presidents Christine Kerr of BaAM Productions and Nick Farmer of Farmer Attraction Development are from Canada and the UK, respectively).
During his time on the TEA EME Board, Willrich sought ways to expand its reach and grow TEA membership across Europe, and overcome geographic obstacles to facilitate more effective networking. He introduced SATE Academy Days, which quickly grew to become one of TEA’s most popular professional development and education programs, with a full calendar in Europe and the US.
Willrich’s goals as TEA president include continuing to strengthen the Association’s international reach and influence, especially in Asia where the industry is growing the fastest.
“I’m lucky to be coming in at a time when the TEA is in the best position it’s ever been,” Willrich said. “TEA is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary and has matured a lot in that time. It’s in very good shape in terms of size, administration, financial stability, programming, reputation, industry alliances, marketing and international presence. I certainly don’t plan to stand still – most of the things on my list have to do with further refining quality and structure. I support everything Steve Birket has been doing since he became president and will be depending on him to be a support to me as past president, when I receive the gavel from him in November.”