Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Giving credit where credit is overdue

Contrary to what you might suspect, the National Restaurant Association’s annual mega-show in Chicago is not subsidized by Dr. Scholl’s. Indeed, you may be surprised to learn the conference, one of the largest in the nation, is largely the responsibility of one person, though Mary Pat Heftman has put together a stellar team.

Even if that group was bigger than NASA’s usual launch squad, it’d still be undermanned, given how much has to be done. In truth, it’s more the size of a Roman candle ignition team. Yet the convention comes together every year—in laudable fashion, judging from the 30 or so I’ve witnessed. Insiders say the key reason is Heftman.

Granted, I strongly suspect that Heftman is a cyborg, if not multiple people cloned by the NRA from a master Mary Pat to handle all the daunting details. Most of us would be doing asylum time if we so much as oversaw the badges for such a gathering. Yet you routinely see her throughout the show, darting here and there, often ready with a quip and a warm hello. This is a show with several thousand exhibitors and tens of thousands of attendees. It’s not natural, I’m telling you.

Turns out we were right to suspect that Heftman is out of the ordinary. The Trade Show Exhibitors Association has just announced her nomination for Favorite Show Manager of the year, one of the top honors in her field.

At the same time, the NRA show itself has been nominated for Best Show of 2009 honors. It's a double tribute to Heftman, her staff and her colleagues.

Exhibitors are being asked to vote for which of the nominees deserves the top accolade in each category . If you’ve exhibited at or attended the NRA convention in Chicago, I suspect you may have a favorite. Do the right thing and cast your votes at the TSEA's online ballot booth.

And don’t forget to let all the clones have a vote.

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