What do the National Association of Catering Executives, the International Special Events Society, the Convention Liaison Council and the National Caterers Association have in common? Member Shelley Pedersen, CPCE. "Association involvement gives me the oxygen and the electricity I need," says the owner and president of the Atlanta-based catering company Beyond Cuisine.
The immediate past president of NACE, Pedersen now serves as endowment chair for the group's continuing education foundation. "Many caterers have come into this field from different angles," she says. "Not everybody went to the Culinary Institute of America, and not everybody can afford to take two years off to get a degree. But we all need continuing education." Professional associations have brought her other benefits: "The knowledge and national friendship base I've gained through NACE is simply amazing. No matter where I am, there will be a NACE member I can count on." She adds, "My business is mainly referral-driven, and nearly 75 percent of this year's business has resulted from NACE referrals."
When it comes to running her own catering business, Pedersen avoids events that "look fabulous on paper" but unfold into a nightmare during execution. Her recipe for avoiding such trouble is blending equal parts "culinary, decor, ethics, sanitation, operations, staffing and logistics-keeping all the pieces together so that events run well and maintain their profitability."
Maintaining high quality while staying competitive is a continuing challenge, Pedersen says. "Not to cave in or compromise your standards to make the sale is a struggle for any entrepreneur."
Shelley Pedersen will speak on "High-End Partnerships: Providing Customer Solutions and Increased Profits," "The Art of the Display" and "Packaging Panache" at The Special Event 2000, sponsored by Special Events Magazine, Jan. 12-15 in San Diego. For more information, call 800/288-8606; or visit: www.specialevents.com/tse2000