Catalyst Ranch has been the go-to creative meeting and event space for going on 19 years. This hasn’t come without help from amazing partners and vendors who add that extra cherry on top of our delicious innovative sundae. For example, when our clients are looking to create a truly experiential teambuilding experience for their offsite gathering beyond what we already provide, we reach out to Corporate Event Interactive.
CEI is approaching their 35th anniversary as an industry leader in the production of Team Building programs for meetings and special events and I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk with CEI’s founder, Ed Graziano and see where their journey began and what the secret behind their success is. Let’s check it out!
So, tell us how CEI got started? What inspired you to get into the business of interactive events?
It was actually several years after the business started in 1987 that we started producing interactive and team events. At the time our business was only in event planning until we did our first team event for Helene Curtis back in 1990. That event was so successful and we could see how much engagement was created with the team experience that it was almost impossible to go back to traditional event planning! Plus, the hours were a lot better too! Not as many late-night events, having to clean up after inebriated party goers.
You’re coming up on 35 years. That’s a long time! What would you say is the secret to staying in business this long?
Patience, listening, networking and never giving up. It has been nice to have my wife, Linda Whitlock Graziano as a business partner as we never were down on the business at the same time. Plus, we have hired very well over the years so our team is spectacular!
After all these years how do you keep innovating your programs?
Listening, reading/researching and brainstorming.
- Listening to your client requests. More new ideas come from clients than anywhere else. They have an initial idea and it is our task to make it happen based on our experiences and creativity.
- Reading/Researching – always keep up with the latest ideas and trends in the industry through industry publications, online resources and participating in events.
- Brainstorming – put three or more creative minds around a table with an end goal in mind and new and innovative solutions are naturally created or uncovered!
You all are experts in team building but how do you build your own team? What do you look for in your team and how do you keep them strong enough to pass that on to other companies?
Lead by example. Do not get too flustered, but also take every program seriously. Also, we bring our team members into discussions about programs, processes and projects. In addition, we give team members enough space and autonomy to run their own programs so they can lead, learn, experience and yes, sometimes even troubleshoot.
You’ve made it this far in spite of all of the challenges of the last year and a half. What are your goals moving forward?
Continue to improve our processes so we can produce more interactive and team events and be profitable. Also want to continue to innovate and provide our clients with the latest and greatest programs available!
I want to thank Ed again for chatting with me and congratulate him and Corporate Event Interactive on 35 years! We hope you’ll make them a part of one of your meetings in the future and please check out our Team Building Meeting Bundle which features CEI’s iQuiz activity here!