Not everyone can say they have someone who greets them at work every day with a warm smile, but A.J. Janosko, director of expositions at PMMI, genuinely cared, as was clear in his interactions with coworkers and clients.
Those who had the privilege of working with him will miss that friendly demeanor as it was learned on the week of June 23 that Janosko, 45, did not survive an unfortunate accident over the weekend while on vacation with his family.
“A.J. was a huge presence in the office,” said Julie Ackerman, senior director of communications, PMMI. “He greeted everyone with a warm smile, an enthusiastic ‘Hello!’ and made sure to check in and ask, ‘How you doin’?’ That was especially true when he knew someone was going through a tough time – he would always check in with them. There is a tremendous void now that he is gone.”
PMMI, an association for packaging and processing technologies, brought Janosko on board in 2012, where he handled much of the day-to-day show management of the PACK EXPO tradeshows. He was formerly the director of tradeshow operations at SPI: The Plastics Industry Association, which celebrated an NPE event with a four-decade run at McCormick Place prior to 2009, when it then kicked off in Orlando.
At the time, Janosko looked forward to the return to Chicago for the PACK EXPO with PMMI, and he hit the ground running.
“Exhibitors can expect this from me: Commitment, respect and trust. The PACK EXPO events have set the standard for innovation on a global scale, and my job is to keep raising that bar. I’m looking forward to Chicago!” Janosko said in an earlier statement about the transition.
“I have a great deal of respect for and understanding of union labor, and that’s been invaluable in my career. I also take great pride in my ability to navigate the proper channels to achieve positive results,” he continued. “That definitely helped us achieve our goals.”
A working history with PMMI CEO Chuck Yuska and Vice President Jim Pittas of more than 15 years, along with his passion and good nature, landed Janosko the newly created position. Critical to the growth effort of PACK EXPO, the following year marked the debut of PMMI’s newest show, EXPO PACK Guadalajara.
“He was a hard worker who loved the tradeshow business,” Pittas said. “I knew him for years, and when we created this position, A.J. was on the top of the list. He was the guy I wanted here at PMMI. From day one, he knew this was the industry for him. All of his jobs in his professional career were involved in this industry, and the passion showed in everything he did.”
Pittas said he knew Janosko as a “calming force” who had the ability to be patient and respectful with customers at all times.
“No customer or vendor or member ever called me and said anything bad about A.J. – even when he needed to say no,” Pittas said. “He also had a smile that could melt an iceberg, and that didn’t hurt him at all.
“For me, A.J. and I spent countless hours in meetings together, and every one of them ended with us laughing about something, usually something really silly. He was just that way. He made everything fun.
As passionate about his job as he was, Janosko was even more so with his family.
“He and I would have lunch just about every day, and he would always talk about how (his kids) were doing in baseball,” Pittas said. “He was so proud of them, even when the results of the game were not as he had hoped.”
In line with his selfless personality, it was important to his family that A.J. became an organ donor, and on June 25, was able to save the lives of five people.
Holding special meaning to A.J. and his family, the song “I Will Walk 500 Miles” by The Proclaimers was requested to be played in the operating room, and according to his brother, BJ, all of the doctors sang along.
A.J. Janosko is survived by his wife, Tracy, and their sons, Andrew and Jackson. Services were held July 2 at St. James in Falls Church, Va. The family requested donations toward an education fund for his sons be made in lieu of flowers at www.ajjanoskoeducationtrust.org.