KURT COLONE WAS A CLASS CLOWN GROWING UP. "Looking back, I always liked telling jokes and stories," he says. "I did the announcements at school, and I’d always add a little flavor."

Those skills served him well at Detroit’s biggest rock radio station, 101.1 WRIF, where he met Mike Staff more than 20 years ago. He learned the DJ business with Staff, and quickly realized he preferred private celebrations to bars and clubs. He joined Mike Staff Productions in 2001; today he’s the company’s director of business development and entertainment.

"I hired all my friends to work here, and it’s turned out pretty darn awesome," he says. The company offers DJs, emcees, videography and photography services, and has grown from 150 events a year to 1,500. Colone credits hard work and the golden rule for its success. "We work our butts off and treat people the way we want to be treated," he says.

Colone grew up in Ann Arbor, attended Eastern Michigan University, lives in Clarkston, works in Troy and has season-ticket seats on the Detroit Tigers’ first baseline at Comerica Park. His commitment to Michigan and leadership in metro Detroit’s events industry has made him a natural choice to host the Best of Michigan Meetings + Events Awards.

Television personalities like Jimmy Fallon and Ryan Seacrest inspire Colone; he says he admires their ability to put guests at ease and help them enjoy themselves.

"I love being able to put other people in the spotlight," he says. He maintains his upbeat attitude at home, too. Colone and his wife have a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old twin sons. He says he does his best to unplug at home so he can be present with his family. He and his wife spend lots of time in the kitchen recreating dishes from their favorite cooking shows, and he loves playing with his kids. "If you’re having fun," he says with a grin, "it’s going to trickle down."

(Get Connected: Mike Staff Productions // 248.689.0777)

After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt

In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality?

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

Dorothy Hecht was just 16 years old in 1937 when she waited on her first table at what was then Fischer’s Restaurant in downtown Frankenmuth, and ecstatically earned her first 25-cent tip. When she met and eventually married William “Tiny” Zehnder, whose family owned Zehnder’s Restaurant across the street, her happiness continued, and a legacy began.