During her rise to event planning success, Cher Przelomski, CSEP, has worn lots of hats — literally. Twenty-five years ago, when she and her then-business partner first introduced their new service to a market that “had never even heard of event planning,” she says, “we would leave all four of our kids with a babysitter and do eight to 15 appointments in a day. We dressed up in suits and hats. People still remember those hats!”
Today, as CEO of Wilmington, Del.-based Planning Factory International and Events by Destination Bermuda Ltd., Przelomski still recognizes the value of a lasting impression. By keying on the specific business needs of her corporate clients, she ensures that the impression their events leave on guests is not just enduring but grounded in clear, strategic objectives. “We have always offered strategic planning and development of tactics. Our slogan was ‘Achieving business goals through special events,’” she recounts. “It's only been in the last five years that people [in the event industry] have started to talk about goal planning. We've been doing it from the beginning.”
Planning Factory's success may be founded upon Przelomski's savvy strategic thinking. But having a built-in market doesn't hurt either. With its business-friendly laws, Delaware has become a haven for financial institutions — and Przelomski's company has become expert at serving the firms' varied event needs. The planner also has branched out, producing events in Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.
With clients including not just financial firms, but Sodhexo, Accenture and the American Heart Association, and with well over a million dollars in annual sales, Przelomski recently announced an initiative to celebrate her company's longevity: the Pedro Project. “For our 25th anniversary, we did not want to do a regular event,” she explains. Instead her team took on the plight of Pedro Toala, a Delaware bus driver paralyzed by a senseless act of street crime.
Rallying vendors, clients and community members, Przelomski and her staff have embarked on a mission to retrofit Toala's family home to better accommodate the wheelchair-bound survivor.
Whether the Pedro Project is adopted by ABC's “Extreme Home Makeover” — Przelomski and team have submitted the cause to the popular TV show — or the makeover is handled by Planning Factory and its volunteers, the planner says she hopes the effort will set an example for the industry: “What if it shows that a little company can do some good for the community, and other companies start doing their own projects?”
Planning Factory International 34 Germay Drive, Wilmington, DE 19804; 302/656-8400; www.planningfactory.com
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“Planners sell an intangible. You can't see it, taste it, feel or hear it. The ability to sell that, first of all, is very gratifying. To envision it so that the client sees it and wants it is very rewarding. Then to be able to see the client's face when they experience it — that's the cherry on top.”
IF I WEREN'T A PLANNER …
“I've always wanted to be an archaeologist. How bizarre am I? If I weren't doing this, I might be digging up a tomb somewhere. The Incas, Egypt — I want to see everything, know everything. I would love to go on a dig. That's my dream!”
“We have a mandatory staff meeting every Monday, and everyone must report with all the details of what they're working on. I need to understand what is going on. I make the rain; I do the sales; I oversee finances. But I don't do all the design, all the production. It's important that my role is to work on the business, not in the business.”