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Burm sells his share of Waterloo Tent and Tarp to President Pete Downs


By Ron Weber

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Since 1993, Joe Burum has owned and operated Waterloo Tent and Tarp. For many of those years, he was also a devoted member of and volunteer for the Showmen's League of America.

Thursday night, March 12th, Joe announced he would be selling Waterloo Tent and Tarp to company president Pete Downs and taking a newly created role as Executive Director of the Showmen's League of America. Joe's hobby has now become a part time occupation.

As to Waterloo Tent and Tarp, Burum said he will continue to be affiliated with the company and assist in measuring for canvas and pointing people in the right direction for sales and advice.

"Customers will not notice a difference in the transition", said Burum. For the past year, Burum has lived away from the company in Atlanta, Georgia and Downs took the president's job. Downs will continue in that role along with key staff and sales team members.

Having built a very successful company in the industry, Joe will now turn his attention to revitalize an industry institution, the Showmen's League of America (SLA).

The league is entering a key period of transition as their final meeting in their Chicago headquarters concluded Thursday night. The building has been sold and the club will be taking up temporary residence across the street until a new home can be found by December.

Burum will be taking over management of the club, developing new fundraising ideas and assisting with leadership for the organization. An important role will be working with members and looking for income opportunities. "I am very excited about this new position. I enjoy the social aspect of the business which will make the position a great fit for me", said Burum. During his tenure with Waterloo, the company was very supportive of many showmen's organizations including the OABA.

Burum's appointment will begin a new era for the club. The new Executive Director position will have a more active role and he hopes to revitalize the club and return it to its past glory.

Some of the ways Burum hopes to accomplish these goals are to create a new newsletter and perform some updates to the SLA web site so it can be better utilized to communicate with SLA members.

Additional assistance will come from long time employee Diane Burmeister. Burmeister has been largely running the day to day operations of the club office since Rick Haney left in September of 1998.

Burum, despite residing in Atlanta, will be a regular presence in Chicago at the club and plans to be in town monthly. In addition, he will be traveling to promote the SLA and its storied history as the board and finances permit.

In a touching moment at the meeting on Thursday, the SLA recognized Harry Heftman on his 100th birthday. Harry,s son Ron is the legal counsel for the club and Harry,s hot dog restaurant has been a fixture on the first floor of the club building for decades.

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