• Meet Colorado's Power Couples

    These experienced meeting makers are impacting the industry as individuals and business owners, and just happen to be married!

     
    FROM THE Summer 2019 ISSUE
     
    1

If you spend much time in Colorado’s meetings and events industry, you without a doubt will run across the Kinsleys, Templetons, Nagys and Savocas. Thinking of these four duos, as well as the Horiis and Muellers who were featured in prior issues as our people profiles, we started wondering if it is common to be a couple working in the same industry and what it takes to mix work and marriage.

The consensus among the first four is that it’s a bit unusual. “In talking to friends in the industry, there are not many of us that are couples. For those that meet in the industry, usually one of them seems to leave the industry after they get married,” says Steve Kinsley, who co-owns and operates Kinsley Meetings, founded by his wife, Allison. “We often hear, ‘Oh, I could never work with my spouse!’” Allison confirms. 

The most common question the Templetons receive is: “How do you work together 24/7? My spouse and I would kill each other if we did!” The couple owns and operates Rocky Mountain Event Consultants and Fairway Graphics, businesses they established before marriage. Freddie says, “The industry and managing events and boards can be stressful with deadlines, details and duty of care, but being on the same team makes it less overwhelming during the tough times. We both look to each other at events for different strengths and talents and have confidence in each other.”

Ingrid Nagy observes that there are married couples who are in the industry together, but it’s more uncommon to own a business together. “It is difficult to find a partner who loves this industry as much as you do. I always say it takes a certain gene to love this crazy 24/7 business, and finding a like-minded individual can be tough.”

While the Savocas are the only couple out of the four that work for separate entities, the long hours and nutty schedules that are the hospitality industry norm are definitely shared and can be rough, acknowledges Heather. “We have always enjoyed it because we respect each other’s talents and understand each other’s business so well.”


Taken at By Design Collective Warehouse

INGRID & CADE NAGY
Owners, By Design Collective

HOW THEY MET: 
“I interviewed Cade! I was working for our catering company when it was a small start-up, and we needed a chef. Ingrid notes, “Let’s just say he got the job … times two!”

CAREERS: 
Cade and Ingrid both joined Paul’s Catering as employees in 1996 and had the opportunity to purchase the company in 2002, renaming it Catering by Design two years later.

Ingrid began working in restaurants as soon as she was old enough to work, earned a degree in foods merchandising and joined the catering industry as a server in 1991 following college graduation. “I never realized at the time that I could make a career doing catering!”

Cade officially started as catering chef in 1996 but had already been a chef in a variety of jobs, mainly in Atlanta. “I don’t know that I had considered catering as a profession prior to getting this job, but it has opened my eyes to opportunities, and I’m working to ensure that catering chefs are put on the map as quality culinarians.”

KEEPING IT SUCCESSFUL AND FUN: 
Ingrid: “We have learned that we each have strengths to contribute. I am not creative, and Cade can’t balance a checkbook. We found that if we stay in our own lanes, then we are successful. … Seriously though, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. We’ve had our moments, but we both realize when it is time to cave to the other; it’s about letting go sometimes.”

Cade: “As a married couple, it has been important for us to be able to work together yet have separate spaces and roles; we both have jobs that we need to do. We both understand the demands of work on our time, and we know and understand when one or the other must work late or long hours. We take it seriously, but we don’t so far that we aren’t having fun.”

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE?
Ingrid:
“Cade is so creative. He has an amazing ability to think of the impossible and find a way to make it happen. He is an incredible chef and an excellent mentor to his culinary team. And he is a damn fine photographer, too, which has served us well to capture images of our work.”

Cade: “I truly admire Ingrid’s 110 percent dedication to the industry. She has a love and passion for events and is an exceptional leader. Our company is successful because of her business acumen, and she has transcended her industry involvement to an international level as a leader on the board of ILEA.”

SEPARATING WORK FROM HOME LIFE:   
Ingrid:
“We drive separate cars daily, and this commute gives us time to decompress in our own space. Typically, by the time we each get home, we’ve had time to work through issues in our heads. When I get home, I want to talk about work, but Cade is careful to point out we can talk about it at work.”

Cade: “I have no issue turning off this switch when I get home. Ingrid struggles with it a bit, but we try to find a balance so that it isn’t work all the time.”

CHILDREN/FAMILY:
Ingrid:
“We have two great kids (15 and 18), who both have worked with the company on a part-time or seasonal basis. Our son was put to work in the warehouse during the summers starting when he was 14, sweeping and breaking down boxes. Now they both work at events, but we keep the younger one in the kitchen for plate up.”

Cade: “If they love it and want to join us when they are older, then great. But they will have to start at the bottom and learn the business from the ground up if they have any intention of taking it over. And if they go a completely different path, we are fine with that, too.”

PROUDEST MOMENTS:
Ingrid:
“We catered and produced an event in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Hotel for Catersource Conference. The hotel had just opened, and we were executing the first event in the space. We had a slight space issue to accommodate 1,800 guests and adequate serving areas. As a solution, we drained the pool, carpeted it and used it as a space for a food station. Of all the creative ideas we’ve had, I think this was one of my favorites.”

Cade: “A couple of years ago, we had the opportunity to cater an event in Dallas. About seven hours after the trucks left with food and décor, we got a call that one of the trucks had overturned near Amarillo due to high winds. The teamwork that it took to assess the damage, rework the party, recreate the menu items and get the party to Dallas and set on time 36 hours later was amazing.”

TIPS FROM THE NAGYS
» Remember you both have individual identities and strengths to bring to the table.
» Whenever possible, maintain your own space (like separate offices) so that you aren’t bumping into each other all the time.
» Most importantly, keep it fun.
» Remember, we throw events for a living. It is long and stressful work, but we make people happy. If you can love it together, it is a bonus!


Taken at Halcyon

STEVE & ALLISON KINSLEY
Owners, Kinsley Meetings

HOW THEY MET: 
In 1985, Allison was the associate director of conferences for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in Washington, D.C., and Steve was a conference services manager at The Broadmoor. Allison brought a group to The Broadmoor, and Steve was her conference services manager. After five months and only five meetings in person, Allison moved to Colorado Springs. They have been married for 32 years.

CAREERS:
The Kinsleys moved to Denver from San Francisco, and Allison was working remotely for a health care association. The association was put up for sale, and she was out of a job. Steve was working in sales at Keystone Resort, and received a call from a customer asking if he knew anyone that could help with two association meetings annually and Kinsley Meetings was born in 1995. He continued working at Keystone and then Hotel Teatro before joining Kinsley Meetings in 1999.

KEEPING IT SUCCESSFUL AND FUN: 
“We are aware that we are very lucky to be able to do what we do together. There are days where there is stress, but for the most part we work on different areas of business operations and together on strategy and long-term planning,” Steve says. “We also have a great team, and they keep it fun.”

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE?
Steve:
“Allison has a great ability to see the big picture, both with our customers and their needs as well as with our team. She is a quiet leader and has a tenacity about her (in a good way).”

Allison: “Steve is the best relationship-builder I know. He takes time to talk with people, will meet for lunch or for informational interviews and then thinks through how he can connect people in his network to their best advantage.”

SEPARATING WORK FROM HOME LIFE: “You don’t. We just call it life. When our kids were at home, they would call us out every now and then at the dinner table, but it was not often,” Allison notes.

CHILDREN/FAMILY: “Our kids have chosen very different paths for themselves. They ‘worked’ for us when they were young, stuffing badges, reading lists and even on-site, but their interests and strengths have pulled them to different careers. Our daughter is a scientist, and our son is an engineer and ensign in the Navy,” says Steve.

PROUDEST MOMENTS:
Steve: 
“Our proudest project by far is our children!”

Allison: “I agree! An extension of that is the culture we’ve built at Kinsley Meetings. Without being a traditional mom-and-pop shop, there is the feeling of being part of a family among our staff.”

TIPS FROM THE KINSLEYS
» Don’t take each other too seriously and have fun.
» Enjoy each other, and also take breaks from each other.
» Remember that your personal relationship is more important than the working relationship.
» If work threatens the personal side, stop working together. 


Taken at Colorado Convention Center

FREDDIE & KEITH TEMPLETON
Owners, Rocky Mountain Event Consultants & Fairway Graphics

HOW THEY MET:
Keith and Freddie met on a blind date in 1998, fell in love and married within 10 months.

CAREERS:
In 1996, Freddie started her dream company, Rocky Mountain Event Consultants, LLC. Keith worked 20 years in graphics and printing before starting his own company, Fairway Graphics, LLC in 1997.

The Templetons equally manage RMEC and the company’s current clients, Meeting Professionals International Rocky Mountain Chapter (MPIRMC) and Meetings Industry Council of Colorado (MIC).

KEEPING IT SUCCESSFUL AND FUN:
The Templetons recommend being best friends, through good times and bad, and having each other’s backs no matter what. “We would rather be together … working, playing and laughing or spending quality time with friends and family,” says Keith.

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE’S ROLE IN THE INDUSTRY?
Freddie:
“First and foremost, his love and loyalty to me and our business. Keith is tenacious no matter what task he is given and has the amazing ability to effectively use both the right and left sides of his brain.”

Keith: “For Freddie’s compassion and love for me and others while being a fierce taskmaster in customer service, sales and board management.”

SEPARATING WORK FROM HOME LIFE:   
“The biggest challenge is turning off work as owners. In the slower months of business, taking an afternoon off to play golf or just walk hand-in-hand enjoying life and being with kids and grandkids is our biggest joy,” notes Keith.

CHILDREN/FAMILY:
“Whether volunteering with name tags, registration, stuffing packets or just attending an event, we always have their support. Our kids may not take over our company in the years to come, but we always know they have our backs with anything we ask of them and vice versa,” Freddie says.

PROUDEST MOMENTS:
“We are proud to say we have amazing friends in the industry that continue to believe and trust in us. Our industry friends have supported us through fundraisers for my breast cancer journey in 2008 and helped rally with us when Keith’s mom was given one month to live five days before the MIC Conference in 2012,” Freddie explains. “Without the support and trust from our industry friends, we would not be as successful as we are today.”

TIPS FROM THE TEMPLETONS
» Respect, love and encourage each other always.
» Treat everyone you come across with the same ideals, lift others up as much as possible and don’t burn bridges.
» Never forget that we are all equal and have different talents and expertise to give and receive from others.


Taken at Halcyon

DEAN & HEATHER SAVOCA
Owner, Savoca Performance Group Associate Director of Sales, ACCESS Colorado

HOW THEY MET:
Dean started working for Maritz in 1992, while Heather began her career in hotel catering and sales around then. Not long after, she started in sales for PGI, a destination management company (DMC).

Both grew up in Illinois, and their paths crossed in 1997 at a large citywide conference for a large technology client in Houston. “I was in sales with Maritz and Heather was in sales with PGI, the DMC partner for the convention. I was actually Heather’s client!” Dean says. “We met dispatching motor coaches together at the Houston downtown Hyatt. I felt lightheaded when I met her. … I don’t know if it was the bus fumes or her beauty. I joke with Heather that every time I smell bus fumes it reminds me of her.”

CAREERS:
Heather: “I’ve been in the DMC business most of my career. I recently worked for a nonprofit, Tennyson Center for Children, for four years. I just joined ACCESS Colorado [a DMC] to manage the Gaylord Rockies account as associate director of sales.”

Dean: “After 12 years with Maritz and a local DMC, I got a master’s degree in organizational performance and change and became a board-certified executive coach. I started Savoca Performance Group in 2004 and do keynote speaking, management training, facilitation and executive coaching, mostly with hospitality industry organizations.”

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE’S ROLE IN THE INDUSTRY?
Heather: “I admire the significant positive impact Dean has on the industry organizations he works with. I often hear rave reviews from industry colleagues who work with Dean and hear him speak.” She adds, “He truly feels that our collaboration and ability to all work together will enhance this industry and gives a lot of time back to the industry and business community.”

Dean: “Heather has a fascinating combination of a deep compassion for people, a gift for making people feel comfortable, and a drive to get things done. Not only does she accomplish so much, but she does it in a classy style that demonstrates her genuine love of people and a heart for service and hospitality.”

SEPARATING WORK FROM HOME LIFE:   
Heather:
“We are able to turn off work when we’re together. People are often surprised at how little we know about the details of the other’s schedule.”

Dean: “Like other couples, we’re sensitive to when we need to stop the shop talk and focus on the family.” He adds, “We are always planning something, with all the event planning in our backgrounds, how can we not? Vacations, family activities and going to the mountains to hike, camp, bike, snowshoe or ski … we always have something to look forward to outside of work.”

CHILDREN/FAMILY:
Dean:
“Our two daughters are 16 and 13, so they’re still a little young, but our oldest daughter is working at a restaurant. She’s pretty entrepreneurial and did ask me the other day about taking over my business. I told her she could buy it from me, and she said she prefers to just have ‘a family pass down.’”

PROUDEST MOMENTS:
Dean:
“Heather went to University of Colorado, and I worked in Colorado with Maritz, and it was our dream to live here, work in the industry and raise our family. We hadn’t been married long when we jumped at the chance to pack up and move from Texas. We opened a new office for a Colorado DMC from the ground up, settled into the Colorado rhythm of city and mountains, and started having kids. It’s truly been a dream come true for me to work in my favorite industry in my favorite place with my favorite person.”

Heather: “One of those DMC projects we did together was the 2004 Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress final night reception at Red Rocks for 3,000 guests. Oh yeah, and we did it with a new baby!”

TIPS FROM THE SAVOCAS
» Help each other out.
» Work out who has the kids.
» Use your event planning skills to manage the household.
» Sometimes we have to drive separate cars to the same event.  
» “Yes, honey” seems to work well.

A conversation with the magazine's Hall of Famers from 2008 and 2009. 

 

Our editorial advisory board sounds off about what’s happening in their sectors of the meetings and events world.

 

Doug Lane, the president and CEO of Fastlane Productions, has kept himself and his company at visionary status.