CPCE Spotlight: Darren Randle, CPCE
Our CPCE Spotlight is where certified professionals share their motivation behind earning the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). We are pleased to feature Darren Randle, CPCE, Owner/President of Houston Tents & Events (HTE) in Houston, Texas.
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Q.Please provide some background on your current position and organization, as well as your path to getting there.
A. I’m currently the Owner/President of Houston Tents & Events (HTE) in Houston, Texas. I started my professional career in collegiate athletics and pro sports, which led me to some marketing and corporate events connections. I took advantage of those opportunities, realized the corporate world wasn’t where I wanted to spend my career, and linked up with another local rental provider in Houston. I wanted to continue growing and creating awesome event experiences for my clients, and that ultimately meant launching my own company, HTE.
Q: How has CPCE certification helped your career to date?
A. It’s provided me more insights on areas of importance that I haven’t had much direct experience with (such as catering and sound/av production); however, the more in-depth events my company partners on, I’m realizing that understanding those areas are vital to our future success. Understanding the “industry standards” for those other areas of event rentals/services will help us provide a better experience for our customers.
Q: What are your professional goals for the next 5, 10, 20+ years?
A. For the next 5 years I’d like to transition into a larger, permanent warehouse office/facility that will allow us to grow our inventory and offerings. For my 10-year plan, my hope is that I’ll be able to gain a significant market share in the Houston area. Ultimately, for my 20-year plan, I’d like to have partners that are able to help run our local operation in Houston so that I can assist on some larger traveling projects for the major experiential events/activations around the world such as World Cup, Olympics, music festivals, Super Bowls, and more.
Q. Did you have a mentor or a group of colleagues who encouraged you to pursue CPCE? How did their encouragement help you through the process?
A. I’ve met other event pros at my local NACE chapter who continually shared how important the industry knowledge gained from the CPCE program was to their professional development.
Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?
A. I would tell them not to stress too much on the information that is more difficult to grasp if it’s not an area specific to your part of the event business. Instead, think about how it will help you understand other areas of the industry to be more successful in your current role once the CPCE certification has been achieved.
Q. When someone asks about the CPCE letters behind your name, how do you explain? Do you have a CPCE “elevator pitch?”
A. When I get that question, I let them know that I’m very passionate about events and the CPCE program was one of the few avenues offered in our profession to increase my industry knowledge.
Q. Would you be willing to share with us a funny or surprising story about CPCE or working in the catering and events industry?
A. The catering area of events is one space I haven’t worked in and of which I have very limited knowledge. However, I was able to make many connections to regulations/processes during my CPCE studying to my at-home cooking/grilling as that’s become a hobby of mine during the slower event seasons. So although I haven’t worked in a kitchen for an event before, I was thankfully able to apply some prior information as I studied for the CPCE exam.
Q. What is your favorite or most memorable part of working in the catering and events industry?
A. The Hustle – Our event industry is constant and always a grind. I feel like at least once a week I’m networking with others outside our industry and repeatedly one thing that always comes up. This is how flexible we have to be, continually learning due to rules, regulations, and policies constantly changing in the event space. That is in addition to the actual labor hours needed to be successful in this industry. Although it’s a tough profession, we are able to create amazing experiences and life-long moments for our clients almost daily throughout the year.
Q: Do you have a favorite food or beverage recipe you’d like to share with readers?
A. My favorite food is any type of BBQ. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and is one thing that has remained a love of mine is BBQ. Although pulled pork was what Memphis was known for, brisket has grown on me as my #1 preference (with pulled pork still a close second). Fun fact: I’ve visited the four main areas of the country to try the various BBQ styles (Memphis, Carolinas, Kansas City, and Texas of course). If I were to ever expand my operation into the catering/food space, it would definitely be with a focus on all four BBQ styles.
Get to know Darren a bit more:
I’m Darren Randle, Owner/President of Houston Tents & Events. I’m not from Texas but I like to tell people I got here as quick as I could from Tennessee. I have a wonderful wife (Kori) and two adventurous little girls (Kali,3 & Karoline,1) that I love traveling the world with as often as possible, while also taking them around town to the various events our company helps put together because, at the end of the day, my company is a family business. I attended the University of Houston (Go Coogs!) where I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I worked in the sports industry and realized early on that I wanted to be more involved with events. The rentals aspect of the business is where I’ve landed and found where I want to focus my professional career. There’s nothing more satisfying than working for months on the event rentals, logistics, and production elements to see it all come together. Whether it’s a festival, sporting game, corporate gathering, or backyard party – events are one of the outlets where people can get together and enjoy entertainment collectively. My company, Houston Tents & Events, gets the opportunity to make events like these happen for people every day through our inventory of tents, event rental items, generators, temporary power distribution, restrooms, and more. I can’t imagine doing anything else for my career.