N.A.C.E. Philadelphia at The Loews: My First Program

National Association of Catering Executives

Once upon a time – around 2004 – I joined a very prestigious organization called The National Association of Catering Executives (N.A.C.E.).  I remember my first N.A.C.E. event well.  I particularly remember a young woman by the name of Hillary Werner (vice-president of the organization at that time) who was kind enough to take me around and introduce me to a bunch of “Who’s Who’s” that were (and many still are) the movers and shakers of the event industry in the greater Philadelphia region.

Since joining N.A.C.E. I’ve gained some great friends, made priceless contacts, and learned a great deal. And while prior to joining I’d already been in the event industry for over a decade, being part of a professional organization has turned out to be an invaluable resource to myself, and my company.

Sometime in February or March of this year I was speaking to Adam Rineer, the current President of the Philly N.A.C.E. chapter.  I was bending his ear about my experiences with social networking and my wish that more chapter members would get involved.  Twenty minutes or so into the conversation, Adam suggested that I run an educational program on the subject at an upcoming meeting, and I agreed.  At first I was honored to be asked…

And then the panic set in.

I’ve always been an internet person.  From online games to YouTube to today’s social networking websites, I’ve always been a pretty serious surfer.  But doing and teaching are two very different things, and the prospect of speaking in front of my industry peers on a subject which I believed to be so important created quite a bit of (admittedly self-imposed) pressure for me.  Through my frequent activity on Twitter and Facebook I had learned a lot.  But the thought of distilling all that information into a one hour presentation seemed quite a challenge.

My first task was to choose my team, and I must say that I chose pretty well.  Staffing the right people for the right job has always been one of my strengths.  So choosing Mark Kingsdorf from Queen Of Hearts Wedding Consultants and Dave Williams from DVideography was a no-brainer.  Both of these guys know their stuff on this subject and were well-suited to bring a lot to the program.  As my moderator, I chose Justin Guarini (that’s right, the American Idol guy) who is also quite the Internet Guru in his own right.  And maybe just as important, I wanted this program to be fun-filled and entertaining as well as informative… after all, entertainment is what I do best.

So fast-forward to the big night.  September 15, 2009 at The Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, ‘Marketing On The Edge’.   I’m guessing that Adam Rineer, and N.A.C.E. V.P. of Programming Doug Quattrini (who was a huge help) included the ‘Edge’ part in the title as a reference to Cutting Edge Entertainment, but I haven’t had the chance to ask yet.

The program was flawless, and although I rehearsed and rehearsed my agenda beforehand, I was pleased (and relieved) to see the program take on a life of its own.  As Adam told me afterwards, “You can judge the success of a program based on the level of audience participation” and there was certainly no shortage of that.  I can’t even pretend that I wasn’t “in my glory” that night as dozens of attendees lined up after the program concluded to tell me how successful they thought it had been, with emails and phone calls that followed for days after saying very much the same thing.

I have so many individual thank-you’s to acknowledge, but I’ll try my best to mention just a few…

To Adam Rineer, thanks for giving me the opportunity, honor and privilege to contribute and to share my knowledge with my fellow industry peers.  You will be missed when you move to Houston, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

To Doug Quattrini, without whose assistance the program wouldn’t have been the success that it was.

To my fellow panelists Mark Kingsdorf and Dave Williams, who more than being just fellow panelists, were moral support and good friends.

To Justin Guarini, I owe you one for this.  You were perfect.

To David Hall (Director of Catering at The Loews) for having me and making me feel welcome.

To Eddie Bruce for coming out and showing your support, it meant a lot.  And thanks for primping me before I went on stage, you are truly class-personified.

To my staff for coming out to show moral support, and for representing Cutting Edge Entertainment.  I am very lucky to have you on my team.

To Meryl Snow (Feastivities) for your audience participation… bravo.

To Brittany Campli, for teaching her Dad about the internet.  🙂

To Hy Goldberg for your kind words after the program… that meant more to me than you will ever know.

To all my other N.A.C.E. friends and family, Thank you for your attendance, your support, and your friendship.

I hope to see you all online soon!

-Craig Sumsky

Photos courtesy of Drexel Hill Photography

Thanks to the September N.A.C.E. meeting sponsor Joe Pulcinella Photography

Follow Cutting Edge Entertainment on twitter – http://twitter.com/cuttingedgedjs


7 Responses

  1. Chef Lucmann Pierre


    First and foremost, We at Le Pierre Caterers would like to thank and congratulate you, as well as the other speakers (Mark Kingsdorf, Dave Williams & Justin Guarini) on a job well done at the September 15th NACE meeting. 2nd, that was a great way to summarize the event on your blog post above. Also, I thought that was a nice touch on your part with the follow-up e-mail you sent out to the group, which included the excerpt on “Blogging 101”. This definitely was a great topic.

    Ever since the meeting on Sept. 15th, I’ve been making a lot more connections online with other industry professionals as well as new prospective clients on my newly created Facebook & Twitter accounts. Thanks again!

    Follow Le Pierre Caterers on twitter: http://twitter.com/Chef_Pierre

    Follow & become a FAN of Le Pierre Caterers: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Burlington-NJ/LE-PIERRE-CATERERS/246594645366?ref=ts

    Chef Lucmann Pierre
    Le Pierre Caterers, LLC

  2. Great program! Surprised to see so many people with excuses as to why they didnt have time to use social media. Some of them my own excuses for not always using social media to its full potential. I think it needs a part 2- how to start using social media. Many people didnt seem to know where to start.

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