About a year ago, I was invited to a networking reception for Tasty Catering. It was a typical drinks and hors d’oeuvres party to generate new clients and build loyalty among current clients.
I’m not sure if that was the reason I was invited by John Rudy, an incredibly smart consultant to the catering industry who I’ve come to know through other contacts in the hospitality business. But I can’t thank John enough for ultimately introducing me to not only the company, Tasty Catering, but also its leader and CEO, Tom Walter.
Tom, along with his brothers Larry and Kevin, has built an amazing business catering company that continues to win awards galore. Recently, they were named the #1 small business to work for in the state of Illinois.
To make a long story short, since that networking party, Tom hired us at the Coleman Center to help with the development of Tasty Catering’s succession plan, which involved not only Tom but also his two brothers/co-owners, Larry and Kevin. During the process, Tom asked me to serve on his advisory board, and last night was their annual meeting.
Now, I should preface this with the fact that all of us at the Coleman Center have been thoroughly impressed with every little thing that Tasty Catering does. They are thorough, detailed, personal, professional, grateful, yada yada yada. In fact, I can candidly say that I have not been able to find one chink in their armor.
So when I was invited to this annual meeting, I should have expected nothing but a well-run, first-class meeting. And so they delivered:
- As a catering company, they set up an amazing dinner in a part of their operations area, just outside the kitchen.
- We had cocktails from 5:30-6pm, when the meeting officially began, with Tom presiding. During the cocktails were passed hors d’oeuvres.
- Following introductions, we helped ourselves to the hearty buffet, after which the meeting officially began.
- Tom and his team sent us a packet in advance with all the business details we needed, most of which was prepared by different people in the company. It covered everything – financials, HR, operations, sales, etc.
- Each of us 8 advisors then had 3-5 minutes to share our concerns and questions, with no interruption or rebuttals. Pure, open-ended commentary.
- Following that, Tom commented on a few of the items, more for clarification than anything else.
- After that, he passed the agenda to his brother, Larry, who then led us into the 2nd half of the discussion. This was based purely on four questions that they provided us in advance, related to future matters for the company.
- This time, we addressed each question at a time, but in the end, we each again had 3-5 minutes of air time.
I was beside myself when, at about 8:55pm, Kevin began to wrap up with some very appropriate closing remarks. I couldn’t believe three hours had passed. This was, easily, the most well-run, systematic, professional, interactive, and impactful advisors meeting I have ever been a part of.
In fact, I learned so much that I will be giving some serious thought about adopting some of Tasty Catering’s tactics for the Coleman Center’s own board meetings. If that was a sign of how the three brothers run their company, then I’ve got a hell of a lot more to learn from them.