Once upon a time, only the privileged party guest could see stunning special events. But these three savvy professionals have showcased their talents on TV and social media, transforming themselves into superstars — and taking the image of the industry along with them.
The venerable New York-based designer with the celebrity-heavy client list is an also an author and TV commentator; he launched Preston Bailey's Signature Wedding & Event Design course last year:
“I'd love to spare younger people in the industry some of my mistakes. It's becoming more and more important to me to offer encouragement and guidance to these folks, and that goal inspired my blog, my courses and my upcoming advice book for those who want to run a creative service business.”
From planner to association leader to his creating his own lifestyle brand, Dallas' Kemble wears many hats — all of them fabulous:
“I give 100 percent credit to the special event industry for launching my brand — Steve Kemble, America's Sassiest Lifestyle Guru. I sincerely hope my legacy will be that, yes, I benefited from this industry but, importantly, I gave and will continue to give back.”
Ask any of his 28,000 Twitter followers and they'll tell you, the New York-based star of TV's “My Fair Wedding” is the other man whom brides dream about:
“I would like to be seen as someone that has provided people the ability to dream and to see that you can have a career surrounded with passion. I believe in making dreams come true and then knowing you can dream bigger! Also, I cannot stress enough that education is important. With education, you can write your own career path and be a trendsetter, and that is what helps to change the footprint of our industry.”
ASKING, WHAT IF?
Some people accept things as they are; others see what could be better — and make it happen.
JOYCE SCARDINA BECKER, CMP
This San Francisco-based wedding planner could have stayed busy with her company Events of Distinction, lecturing at the college level, and writing. But she saw a need for a high-quality, nonprofit association for bridal experts, and became founding president of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association:
“The California State University East Bay Wedding Planner Certificate Program is the most challenging and difficult program nationwide — I designed it that way because my name is on it!”
The founder of Tarzana, Calif.-based Someone's in the Kitchen gives parties, gives lectures and gives. Often. She supports a range of charities helping the indigent and serves as chairwoman of the SEARCH Foundation:
“This is what you learn before you are 6 years old: You need to give back and participate in the community at large. Regardless of how dark your day seem, someone else's day is darker.”
THEY JUST WIN, BABY
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, the old joke goes. How do you win a total of 50 Gala Awards? Create events as outstanding as this trio does.
The founder of L.A.-based AOO Events doesn't keep his event design and management expertise to himself. He speakers on designer to ISES chapters worldwide — and donates a portion of his speaker fees to SEARCH:
“Because there was no one to mentor me when I first started in the business, I always wanted to be there for others who were just starting out. Through my involvement in the industry, in ISES and by blogging and speaking, I hope to pay it forward.”
The founder of Alison Silcoff Events of Montreal is the belle of the ball — the Daffodil Ball, the mammoth fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society:
“My ideas are inspired by a love of the arts, extensive travel, visiting cutting-edge restaurants and my connections to entertainers and other suppliers around the world.”
The founder of Extraordinary Events of Sherman Oaks, Calif., has an extraordinary track record — 34 Special Events Gala Awards:
“My legacy? Don't stay in one place, complacently and fearfully, complaining about the economy, etc. Take a risk and leap of faith, and dream big.”
Success yesterday doesn't ensure success tomorrow. These three are changing the face of the event landscape.
Back in 1998, Dams' international event agency — Vok Dams Group — was among the first to make the Internet part of events:
“The future belongs to hybrid events, which pair live with MoSoLo — the use of mobile/social/local technologies. MoSoLo gives us the opportunity to enhance the special event outcome — driving ROI up.”
SALLY WEBB, CSEP
With offices in London and the U.S., this dynamo has produced events in more than 20 countries in her 25 years in business. Recognizing the challenges facing academic planners, she launched the Academic Event Professional conference in 2007:
“I am delighted with the impact AEP has made within the academic community in such a short period of time, and to be an ambassador for standardized best practices within the event industry through my work with the ISES CSEP accreditation.”
The forward-thinking president and CEO of Culinary Capers Catering in Vancouver, British Columbia, parlayed a catering gig for the 2006 Olympics into a sister operation in Beijing offering catering and a restaurant:
“The biggest legacy I can leave the catering industry is to show caterers that opportunities are everywhere. Anything is possible if you are open to new ideas, face the fear, and build a strong and passionate team to back you up and embrace your vision.”
These event professionals prove that eco-conscious operations are good for Mother Earth and good for business.
New York's Great Performances catering company, which Neumark co-founded in 1979, operates a 60-acre organic farm and offers “100 Mile Menus,” which feature ingredients produced within a 100-mile radius of the event site:
“Being so intimately connected to a food source reminds us of the work, energy and time that goes into our raw ingredients before they land in our kitchen. Being a green caterer for us is about connecting local growers and producers to one another, and promoting their products and contributions.”
When the economy headed south in 2008, the founder of Landover, Md.-based Perfect Settings starting recycling to save money — to the tune of $1,000 a month on his trash bill. Now he's a green go-getter:
“My hope is that the special events industry will become a more and more environmentally friendly industry — not only because it is good for our planet, but because it is good for the bottom line as well.”
The founder of Lori Hill Event Productions of Burtonsville, Md., launched the Mid-Atlantic Green Wedding Showcase last year, and is at work on the documentary “The Green Event Project: What Price Will Earth Pay for Your Next Event?”:
“Someday we will no longer use the term ‘green events’ because sustainable events will be the standard, not the exception.”
Before Special Events was born in 1982, a few visionaries could see the start of something big …
MIKE AND SUNNY HALPERIN
The Halperins started in 1972 with a few silver trays, 100 wood folding chairs and each other. Today, that business is Teterboro, N.J.-based Party Rental Ltd., employing more than 1,400 and offering a dazzling array of inventory:
“Our drive to innovate in both product categories and technology and our commitment to superior service has enabled us to transition from a mom-and-pop operation to the largest privately held company in our industry.” — Mike Halperin
JOHN J. DALY JR.
A man respected by many, Daly has been shaping the look and the leaders of special events for 46 years:
“I have had the blessing of a wonderful career because I forged ahead with what I wanted to do in the beginning, and it ended up becoming a multibillion-dollar industry.”
Mr. Three-peat: LoGuercio has been at the helm of three rental companies. The first was Rentals West in 1978, followed by now-mammoth Classic Party Rentals and today, mammoth-in-the-making Town & Country Event Rentals in Van Nuys, Calif.:
“I hope I drop dead working walking around the warehouse or showroom. I don't want to retire again — I was going out of my mind.”
THE EDUCATION IMPERATIVE
Four years ago, ISES identified its ability to offer high-quality education as an essential mission. While many in the organization have contributed, here are four champions of the project:
CONNIE RILEY, CSEP, CMP,
Vice President, Event Operations, T. Skorman Productions, Orlando, Fla.
Riley was ISES International President 2007-08, the year in which the strategic planning meeting took place that identified educational quality and breadth of offerings as a key driver for ISES: “I was the steward at the time the Board of Governors made the decision to initiate the Task Force that formed the current Education Council. I strive to learn every day, and hope I am considered an ethical person and respected for my work and accomplishments. Through my volunteerism, I was given opportunities to work with mentors and colleagues that advanced my skills and built my confidence to pursue my career.”
General Manager, Entertainment and Imaging, Disney's Hollywood Studios and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando
As ISES International President 2008-09, DeLoach was instrumental in beginning the education focus: “Educating our members, thereby raising the level of professionalism in the special events industry, has remained our mission since our founding. During my period of service on the Board of Governors, we focused on building a foundation from which we could best support the mission. I am so very proud of the team's work in investing more, time, effort and resources into the chapter leaders. Providing leaders training on how to efficiently administer a chapter, giving them resources and tools to deliver valuable education, and supporting their growth as ISES leaders was and is a critical starting point to achieving the mission. Without the chapters being able to turn the ‘marketing promises’ of ISES into real-world educational and networking experiences, we could not have achieved the growth we've seen over the last decade.”
KATHLEEN DeLUCA, CSEP, CMP
President, Events Plus, Collingswood, N.J.
As ISES International President 2009-10, DeLuca pushed the ISES Education Council to focus on core event disciplines and create core knowledge templates for each: “It is my belief that no matter the level of experience, we all need to continually participate in educational opportunities and share our knowledge with the new generation entering the profession.”
PAUL CREIGHTON, CSEP
Executive Vice President, T. Skorman Productions
Creighton serves as International Committee Chair of the Education Council: “This industry will live or die by the desire of its practitioners to constantly improve the level of their performance and skill level. If we are to be taken seriously as an industry, then continuing education is critical to raising the level of our professionalism. That's one of the reasons ISES was founded, and it's one of the reasons we're working so hard on that mission today.”