Our industry lost a true light last week when Todd Lloyd was killed with his partner, Chris Neumann, in a plane crash.
Though I didn’t know Todd nearly as well as I wish I had, I’m so grateful I had the chance to talk with him at some length at the unveiling of the new ballroom at Cobo Center this fall. I was walking around outside the ballroom when the table arrangements’ details caught my eye. I had recently interviewed Todd for our magazine’s Tablescapes department, for which he had provided images from an event that his company, Top That! Events, had designed. The tables featured several laser cut items, including a napkin ring and a menu sleeve. The tables at Cobo had laser-cut items as well, and just after I spotted them I turned around and there was Todd. He regaled me with stories of the chaos that had permeated the day’s preparations, and we ended up talking for well over half an hour. That time with him made the night.
My first encounter with him was a bit less encouraging - at first. Todd was selected as the magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner last year, and it was my job to interview him for his profile. I emailed and called to set up a time but couldn’t pin the man down for the life of me. I got annoyed; how hard were we going to have to work to give the man a major accolade? When I finally reached him, he apologized - sort of. His company had had several major events recently, he explained, and he felt he had to prioritize his clients’ needs for his attention above his own opportunity for an award. That put the kibosh on my annoyance, and made it immediately clear why he’d achieved what he had in his career. And I quickly learned that Todd was smart, down to earth, funny, warm and engaging.
For someone with such demands on his time, he was very committed to helping others thrive. When I asked him the key to his success during our interview, he pointed to the abilities of those around him rather than to his own. "The biggest thing I’ve accomplished is surrounding myself with the most creative people on the planet," he said. "I’ve got a knack in hiring great people. And they’ve been with me for a very long time." I know his team misses him immensely, and I’m grateful we’ll have the chance to come together Monday to remember Todd and Chris and their many contributions.