December 18th, 2019
The mission for HEE East was set and the participants eagerly accepted it, as Hospitality Executive Exchange kicked off its fall program.
HEE East brought together more than 160 food and beverage executives this past October 28-30 for a relaxed, laid-back two and a half days that proved to be productive and extremely beneficial. Every HEE program is customized to the participants who are attending and the fall program held a theme that truly resonated with all of the participants. “Unleashing Your Superhero” was tied to all of the scheduled agenda activities in one way or another, making it one of the most successful programs to date.
Kicking off the Exchange was a big conversation covering sustainability that was led by Breakthru Beverage Group, followed by one of the most motivational keynotes, Steve Shlemon, CEO, Whiskey Cake Holdings. Steve is a 40-year veteran and shared quips and quotes from his own mentors as he imparted insights for the future of the industry.
The opening night’s mixer was the first crusade for the HEE family. Everyone donned capes and masks to participate, as HEE joined forces with KIND and Families in Transition to provide 150 backpacks, 150 Thanksgiving baskets and 150 Family Packs to families in Osceola County who are in need. Participants were broken into three teams, and it quickly became a fun, friendly competition to see who could finish their packing first. It was a tremendous crusade and the result and reward was presenting the filled backpacks with school supplies, the Thanksgiving baskets with a meal and the Family packs with personal hygiene items to the Families in Transition team, who will make sure they go to families in need.
Colleen McClellan, Datassential, presented the Opening General Session on Trendspotting. The teams were taken through steps that would allow them to identify current trends and fads, and how far they will make it through the adoption cycle. The core of the HEE program is the one-on-one meetings, so the room was buzzing and full of energy as the first full day got underway. HEE is the only program that truly focuses on conversations and relationships through every activity on the agenda; the participants all get an opportunity to engage in real conversations that matter. One of the highlights of the HEE East program was renowned tiki expert, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, who shared the history of Planter’s Punch and engaged participants with stories and history carefully woven into a phenomenal presentation, all while everyone enjoyed tiki libations.
HEE has become known for surprise additions to the program, and the Monday night wine-pairing dinner was a showcase for ordinary heroes doing extraordinary things. During each course — all of which were named after superheroes — stories of ordinary heroes were shared and customized capes were given to each. Recipients included: Brandon Crisler, Trellis Wine Group, who braved a mugger and helped save someone’s life; Patricia Murphy, Campari USA, who beat breast cancer; James Michael Patrick Skeadas, who has beat one cancer and continues to fight another in one of the toughest fights ever; and Paul Brown, The Melting Pot, who endured 77 hours on an elliptical to break a Guinness World Record but to also take a stand against opioid abuse. The night was complete when we were able to Skype in Chris Benziger of Benziger Winery. Chris was supposed to be present but had to rush home to California to battle the wildfires. He is a volunteer fireman who was one of many working tirelessly to put out the fires in Sonoma County. The Skype chat provided insight as to what was going on in California, and featured his humor and grace while battling the fires as well as his commitment to the industry. Following Chris’ chat, we were able to raise some money for the first responders of Sonoma County.
With a program like HEE, engagement is the key component to the agenda. The Beverage Bazaar, which was launched in the spring, was back faster than a speeding bullet with four engaging, dynamic break-out rooms where the conversations truly focused on beverage. Discussions covered the Beverage League sharing the tribulations of legality; the Raiders of the Lost Ark, where we engaged in making a few tiki drinks; landing in another galaxy where our Jedi prowess brought out leadership qualities; and a pairing like none before where our Boston Beer Superheroes went to another universe, carefully crafting the art of pairing in unique and unparalleled ways.
The final day held more conversations, one-on-ones and ended with our final “Show Your Superhero” dinner. We celebrated the Golden Pineapple Hall of Fame, Class of 2019, which included Don Billings, in the Mix magazine; Donna Frederick, Beam Suntory; Dan Hoffman, Marriott International; and Larry McGinn, IMI Agency. These four individuals have been trailblazers and leaders in the hospitality industry, sharing their dedication, passion, leadership and mentorship. They truly represent the word “hospitality” in every way.
Our final award of the evening was the coveted Teddy Mac Award, which was established to honor and remember our HEE Board Chairman, Teddy McAleer. The award is presented to an individual who exemplifies the qualities that Teddy Mac held dear throughout his career in the industry. He was a beacon of light who cultivated his craft, shared his passion and truly wanted to make the beverage industry a better place. The third annual Teddy Mac Award was presented to Nichelle Ritter, The Food Hall Co. Nichelle definitely possesses all of the qualities that make this award so special and unique.
Hospitality Executive Exchange has grown into the premier program for the on-premise industry and continues to elevate the conversation through every component of the customized agenda. The family atmosphere lends itself to allowing all participants the opportunity to have fresh and relevant conversations throughout the program. 2020 is on the horizon and HEE is already underway with planning and allocating seats for the programs. If you would like to have more information regarding the program, please email Jen Robinson, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website, www.hospitalityexecutiveexchange.com for details. #jointheconversation #heewest2020