A Sampling of Pages from the 2014 DEMA Convention
2014 CONVENTION SUMMARY
by Richmond Schmidt, Estate Manager & Past DEMA Chapter President - Palm Beach
The Chocolate Genius,
Anyone who has planned a successful party knows one of the first hurdles to jump, and arguably one of the most important, is who to invite. I should know; I host quite a few parties, both at work and home. While I have no control over who my boss chooses to invite, I am quite aware of the efforts she takes to come up with the "A" list for any particular occasion. We massage the seating arrangement like we are trained therapists who know how proper placement can minimize "pains in the neck." I also know from experience that a few of my failed attempts at entertaining have come about because of the wrong mix of people or my failure to help guide the revelries into sharing the esprit de corps rather than their own agendas at a party.
My most successful dinner parties, and thankfully I have had a few, are those where each guest brings some unique contribution to the evening and also is eager to engage in receiving from others what they have to contribute. The mix of stories, jokes and wisdom punctuated by laughter, exchanging of email addresses and promises to reconnect are the rewards of a well-crafted guest list. Few people remember what china pattern I used or if I chose the cotton rolled-hemmed napkins versus the linen damask with hem-stitching (That is why I take pictures of my tablescapes. I still care). Guests do remember if they made a connection. They remember if the evening had a good variety of conversation, food and libations, and if it was a worthwhile diversion from the banality of life before the party. What matters most to guests is the exchange between other guests and the host, not the menu or the sterling pattern. (I still refuse to pare my collection of china, crystal and flatware that has now outgrown the Butler’s Pantry!)
Having just returned from DEMA’S third annual convention, I can say with confidence that DEMA has the event down to a science. It was a success on many counts! I attended the previous two and I am planning now on next year’s event. This year offered the perfect mix of attendees, over 200 participants in all. It felt like all the spices and herbs came together not as separate flavors but the ideal bouquet garni, all professionals in the industry. The flavor mix was properly proportioned with about 80 % of Private Service Professionals (PSP) and 20 % Combined Agencies, Educators, Principals and Vendors.
The event this year was jump-started by a very popular Career Day featuring an Agency Networking event where employed and unemployed PSPs could connect in person with sixteen of the country’s best placement agencies. Past phone conversations now had faces to them. Resumes will be transitioned into future jobs by the networking done within just a few hours of convention time well-spent.
Every good host has a few friends who he or she always hopes will reply favorably to an invitation. These are the favored guests. They know just what to say and how to act. They can help turn a good event into a great event. We saw several returning favorites this year. Industry leaders like: Donna Shannon from Personal Touch Career Services; Charles MacPherson from Charles MacPherson and Associates, Inc.; Peter Van Ryder from Estate Management Solutions; David Barrie, PSP; Steve Feldman from Kitchen Trader and Green Demolitions; and Kerry Lyons, PSP. These are just a few familiar friends who did their part in making DEMA Convention 2014 such a success.
A big "Thank you’" must go to Fitzgerald Heslop who was the Master of Ceremonies! He gracefully ushered us through the entire weekend, on time, in good spirit and with professionalism. He kept us on track and well-informed of our next step. If the convention could be compared to Downton Abbey, then Mr. Heslop was our very own stalwart and efficient, Mr. Carson. I thank you, Sir.
It was also very nice to welcome a few "newbies" to the ring. They came in strong and contributed like the veterans. New participants included Elizabeth Meyer from Meyer Suite, Ami Ira of Crew Unlimited, Jason King from King's Institute of Private Service; and Amilee Luke representing International Crew Training. Earlier I mentioned the importance of the right libations. We certainly had the right mix of mixologists and the Grand Cru of Wine Advisers. Cheers to Emily Ellyn, Celebrity Chef and Food/Drink Educator; Dana Farner, Sr. Wine Advisor at Soutirage; Peter Freeman, Sommelier, Opici Wine Company. (I should also mention here another returning favorite, Nicolas Krafft, President and CEO of Christofle, who awed us again with his skill at Sabrage, uncorking the bubbly with saber-sharp precision). Jacqueline Whitmore, Founder and Director of the Protocol School of Palm Beach charmed all us with her personal stories and her southern graciosity. She helped us master our "Mingle-Ability". The fields of Home Security and Home Technology were very well represented by leaders in the industry. National experts in the world of Art, Restoration/Conservancy, Storage and Handling also left their coveted signatures on the weekend.
Another new face to our crowd was Eric Barton, President and CEO of Vanquish Worldwide LLC. His list of accomplishments as a entrepreneur and visionary is astounding. He holds multiple degrees and has received significant rewards. Mr. Barton addressed the convention on Saturday morning and spoke to the attendees from a principal’s perspective. He drew from personal experiences with household staff and discussed the importance of managing expectations between a PSP and a Principal. The use of tact, sound judgment, dependability, integrity and enthusiasm where highlighted in his discussion on how to manage expectations. We heard again from Mr. Barton when he accepted the coveted award of Humanitarian of the Year. In keeping with his ongoing efforts to provide superior training to Professional Household Management, he has awarded DEMA a challenging matching Grant of $50,000.00 to be used for scholarships for persons seeking to attend a household management program.
DEMA convention 2014 certainly had a guest list of epic degree. Professional expertise was the mortar that held the whole weekend together. It mattered not if you were a Vendor, a PSP, an Agency or an Educator because each person was simultaneously an honored guest and willful mentor to the other. It was a weekend of professional exchanges. Learning and Teaching mingled with Bonding and Building.
Matt and Mike that was one awesome event! Thank you!
DEMA would like to extend a special Thank You to Richmond Schmidt for all he does for the association and helping write this summary.