Whether just starting out or seasoned pros, every day is make a difference day for our 2012 Hall of Fame inductees.
Throw a stone in a pond and the resulting ripples touch everything in their path until they lap the shore, sometimes far away from the point of origin. Meetings and events have the same effect, except they touch lives, economies and communities.
This year’s Hall of Fame inductees and their contributions are perfect examples of all the different ways meetings and events make a difference to many.
By Cathleen Hagan, photos by David Lewinski & Ryan Pavlovich
BEST MEETING PROFESSIONAL
Tim Walker, CMP
Director of Conferences and Events,
Engineering Society of Detroit
“I never planned on being a planner,” says Tim Walker, CMP. After earning a degree in business from the University of Akron, Walker landed at the American
Management Association in Washington D.C. “I did events up and down the East Coast for four offices,” Walker explains. “I’m still loving it.”
Walker’s career subsequently not only had him planning meetings for planners- as director of meetings for the Professional Convention Management Association- but serving planners as a sales director at the Kalamazoo County CVB.
In 2005 when he joined the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD), “I came full circle with all that I’ve learned,” says Walker. “The ESD has its own programs for members and provides association management for other organizations,” 92 affiliates in all. “There’s a shortage of engineers in Michigan, believe it or not,” Walker notes. “Through our symposiums, trade shows and the ESD Institute, we focus and hone in on encouraging engineers to stay in Michigan.”
Q: What program or event do you plan that you are most proud of?
A: That would be our community outreach program, the Future City Competition. It encourages middle school students to become engineers as they build a city that meets certain criteria using different materials. Engineers mentor the students and teachers and judge the winners. We had 40 schools participate this year. It’s fascinating to see what these kids come up with: cities on another planet, underwater cities.
Fun fact: If Walker wasn’t planning events, he’d be flying. “I want to get a pilot’s license,” he says. “I love aviation.”
BEST-UP-AND-COMING MEETING PROFESSIONAL
Annie McIntosh, CMP
Michigan Society of Association Executives
“You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” That’s the desk calendar entry Annie McIntosh, CMP, keeps in her workspace, a reminder from her supervisor that it’s okay to delegate. “I’ve always taken on a lot,” says McIntosh. Her resume alone is proof: an honors graduate from Michigan State University with a degree in Hospitality Business in 2009; on the dean’s list every semester; three internships; study abroad in Australia; earning her CMP in January this year.
She thought she was destined for a career in hotel catering after her first two internships. But her internship with the Michigan Society of Association
Executives (MSAE) turned out to be “a great fit,” she says, leading to a full-time position working on meetings, events and programs for the organization’s more than 700 members. “From potato growers to cut flower growers, I’ve met so many amazing people from such a wide variety of associations,” says McIntosh. “No two days are the same.”
Q. What’s the most challenging request you’ve had from an attendee and how did you handle it?
A. There was one person at an event who seemed to be allergic to everything. I had to provide a list of all the foods they couldn’t eat and communicate with everyone, the chef, the banquet servers, to make sure we were on the same page. All that individual attention just shows how much you care.
FUN FACT: Annie gets teased for the number of lists she makes.
General Sales Manager,
Amway Hotel Collection
Steve Yoder could write a book about his 40-plus years in the industry, and we sure hope he does. Based on some of the stories he has to tell, the history and milestones he’s been part of, it will be a best-seller.
Like scrounging for new accounts at the old Sheraton Cadillac in Detroit using a phone book. Booking the first group at a new resort on Water Island in the Virgin Islands, then explaining the shortage of fresh water due to a broken pipe. Being on the opening sales team for the Western International Hotel at Renaissance Center. Getting that phone call in 1980 as the newly restored Pantlind Hotel prepared to reopen as the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Then there’s the story involving a prospective client in a glass-walled bath and some window washers…
In an industry where people move around a lot, what’s kept him at the Amway for 32 years? “Amway is a great company to work for with a high quality product, and they’re committed to keeping their properties up,” says Yoder. “There are a lot of long-term employees. We’re more like a country club where the staff knows you. It’s been a great experience.”
Q. What’s the secret to your success in hospitality sales?
A. The rewarding thing about sales is prospecting for new business. I’m still finding groups I’ve never heard of. I’ll read the Sunday paper and see someone has been appointed to a board, so I call, tell them I saw the news, and congratulate them. Or I see an organization is having a convention, and I look them up on the Internet. Countless times making that kind of contact has resulted in a major piece of business. It’s all about relationship-building.
FUN FACT: Yoder is an avid motorcyclist who owns two BMW motorcycles and has ridden across North America. He also rides with a group of motorcyclists from the hotel and association meeting industry.
Good Fruit Video
When life handed Justin Caine lemons, he made Good Fruit. Surviving a brain tumor as a child left Caine with after-effects that derailed his goal for a career in live television and radio, but not his love for video production. “I never considered starting my own business,” says Caine. Yet that’s what happened when Sparrow Hospital hired him to do video editing—until the work dried up because of the economy.
Fortunately, he found a small business incubator through the City of East Lansing, and through that, met Kraig Westfall, a videographer. “I wasn’t good at taking video because of the tumor,” Caine explains. “Kraig had tons of talent, but no network. Because of all the volunteering I’ve done, I had the network.” Together they formed the award-winning and growing Good Fruit Video. “It’s extremely hard work,” says Caine, “but I love my life.”
Q. How do your videos help events be more successful?
A. Video engages viewers with a combination of sound and pictures. Viewers get to see what happens at the event, hear what’s going on, get a feel for what it is. This attracts attendees, sponsors and volunteers. Video is still a powerful resource, with no borders, no time limit. It’s a mobile recruiting tool. There are so many ways to use video: your website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, as an intro to a presentation at an event.
FUN FACT: Good Fruit Video gets its name from a combination of Justin’s and Kraig’s previous companies: Good Time Communications and KiWe Productions.
International Association of Conference Centers
CEO and Owner, 3P Business Solutions
How the outside of a building looks is important, but as planners well know, how it functions on the inside is even more important.
Over the course of his 45-year career, Peter Stockmann has become an expert in conference center design and operations, first at Ford Motor Company, where he designed, managed and operated Ford’s 300,000-square-foot Learning and Conference Center, and then as a consultant through his company, 3P Business Solutions. His clients include General Motors, Best Buy and FedEx. If you’ve held a meeting at the Birmingham Conference Center, you’ve experienced his work.
Stockmann has also been involved with the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) for 15 years. He’s traveled to Costa Rica, Central America and the Honduras, assisting facilities that want to earn IACC accreditation. Currently president of IACC Americas, “I’m proud of being part of the IACC where I’m able to make a difference, both for properties and the meeting experience,” he says.
Q. What’s a common issue that arises in conference center design?
A. Many designers I work with design to building codes instead of how the facility will be used. For example, for a building that will hold 1,000 people, the code says two restrooms for each gender. But everyone at a conference center gets out at the same time. You have to maximize efficiency of people through design.
FUN FACT: Stockmann got to meet with Bill Gates when he was working with Microsoft on the design of their learning center
BEST SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNER
Traverse City Downtown Development Authority,
Downtown Traverse City Association
When’s the last time you planned an event that had a 500% ROI?
As Colleen Paveglio points out, “It was time to implement Restaurant Week in downtown Traverse City,” which has added foodie town to its list of attractions. “It was hugely successful,” she says. “Hotels are already getting bookings for this year. In 2011, restaurants off the beaten path told me during Restaurant Week, when they’d usually serve 100 people, they served 500.”
The event is just one of more than 20 annual community events Paveglio plans, promotes and executes in her quest to make the city a top destination and support local industries and businesses. Her implementation of a shop downtown campaign resulted in a 500 percent increase in Downtown TC Gift Certificate sales.
Although “always running,” and worrying about getting the right face painter or band in front of a store for Friday Night Live, “It’s kind of corny,” admits Paveglio, “but I have a love affair with Traverse City. No matter how hard I work, the gratification outweighs everything else.”
Q. What are the most unique elements of planning community events?
A. The concept of planning community events is a different ballgame. Our mission is to serve the public sector and support the downtown core. Community leaders don’t think of events as economic development tools, but they’re big business, they really are. So many jobs are impacted by community events.
FUN FACT: Paveglio’s favorite Traverse City restaurants include Red Ginger, Amical and Patisserie Amie.
BEST-UP-AND-COMING SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNER
Volunteer and Corporate Membership Manager,
National Cherry Festival
During her Intro to Commercial Recreation class at Central Michigan University, Jessica Schlimme’s class project was to interview someone from and create a presentation on her dream job. She interviewed Chuck O’Connor, director of corporate partnerships with the National Cherry Festival. “I was born and raised in Traverse City, and grew up enjoying the festival,” says Schlimme.
Following a 30-week internship with the festival, “I knew this where I wanted to work,” she recalls. It took some patience—she spent two-and-a-half years working in business banking after graduation—but in 2011 her dream came true. Responsible for recruiting and training hundreds of volunteers and event directors, as well as securing and managing more than 100 corporate members, Schlimme also helps plan the eight-day festival’s 150-plus events and programs, along with two other annual community events.
“It’s pretty cool, being part of the festival family, a core group of people all working together for one goal,” says Schlimme.
Q. Share something about the National Cherry Festival related to your position most people don’t know.
A. It takes around 2,000 volunteers to run the festival. Many come back year after year, but I’ve been focusing on recruiting new volunteers with new ideas. I’m trying to reach the younger generation by going into high schools and talking to classes about volunteering in the community, and how that looks good on their resume.
FUN FACT: What is Schlimme’s favorite Traverse City cherry food? “Cherry salsa is the best,” she says.