Kevin Brant, CPCE Emeritus Retires

Kevin Brant

Industry veteran and long-time NACE leader Kevin Brant, CPCE Emeritus has announced his retirement. A NACE member since 1989, Kevin served in countless volunteer roles within our association, including NACE National President from 2004 to 2006. Kevin's most recent role was the General Manager for The Arts District Mansion in Dallas, Texas, where he worked for more than 13 years.

His broad experience in the catering and event profession included roles as Director of Sales for Wolfgang Puck Catering at Union Station, Director of National Accounts at BBJ Linen, and VP of Private Events for Club Corp.

We sat down with Kevin to reflect on his career, changes in the industry, and his plans for the future.

How did you get into the catering and events industry?
I could say that I got the restaurant/hospitality bug when I started flipping burgers at Dairy Queen when I was in high school. However, I really found my calling when I started waiting tables at the Student Union at the University of Missouri – Columbia (Go Tigers!), which then led to picking up catering and bartending gigs for their catering department. After college I got the job of Director of Catering for the Student Union at Mizzou and the rest is history!

How did you first hear about NACE and what convinced you to join as a member?
I had just started at the Banker’s Club in Miami and my counterpart at the Tower Club in Ft. Lauderdale suggested that I attend the Miami NACE Chapter meeting. (Yes there was a Miami and a Ft. Lauderdale Chapter back then!) Being new to the area, it was an awesome introduction to the industry leaders in the South Florida area. These were the “cool” people. I saw how even the monthly meetings were events and I wanted to be a part of that!

What was your favorite memory during your term as NACE National President?
This is a tough one!  I would say that some of my favorite memories are going to chapter meetings across the country and meeting fellow members. I was able to travel to Toronto, Anchorage, Hawaii, and Austin, as well as many others, to induct their new boards and to speak about NACE and the Foundation of NACE. Another favorite memory is the honor of presenting NACE One Awards to so many deserving people each year at Experience Conference

What are some of the biggest changes in the organization you’ve seen during your time with NACE?
We were a self-managed association when I began, which means we had no association staff to help with running the association – we did it all!  The National Board meetings were set up as a hollow square for about 40 people (which included Chapter Presidents) and if you weren’t a National Board member or on the agenda you did not speak!  We had 6 Regional Vice Presidents who worked with their respective Chapter Presidents, assisted them with their monthly reports, and helped with any issues that might have come up.  We’ve gone through numerous logos, chapter reporting programs, and National Board sizes/changes to get us where we are today.

What have you learned from NACE over the years?
The relationships I have formed and friends I have met over the years are truly priceless! I have friends and colleagues all over the country that I can call for almost any reason! Whether I need a new regional recipe or theme, advice on how to handle a client, or just someone I can laugh or rant with – my “peeps” are here for me.

How have you seen the catering and events industry change during your career?
Events are definitely about the total experience now!  Not that they weren’t then, but today's events look at creating the experience from beginning to the very end and how they make the guests feel throughout the process. BEOs were typed using a typewriter and each department got a different color sheet. Email was non-existent and we relied on faxes and FedEx to send contracts! Before the internet was widely available (I’m sure some of you think I’m joking!!), we would reach out to the students at the Conrad Hilton School of Hospitality at the University of Houston and have them research a theme, menu suggestions, décor, etc. Sure enough, in about 24-48 hours you would receive a multiple-page fax from them with everything you needed!

What has been your most rewarding volunteer experience?
Sitting on the NACE Foundation Board, being part of the scholarship process, and awarding conference scholarships to students so they could attend the educational conference. Knowing that we were making an impact on their lives and careers.  

What advice would you give to up-and-coming professionals? 
Get out and meet people! Build those relationships! It’s not all about sitting behind a desk and answering emails and posting on social media (though those are important!).  You need to meet fellow industry members, see their properties, experience their products and see their services. I have always believed that we are all partners in this industry and not the “dreaded competitor or enemy!”

What will you do with your extra time?
We have a cabin in Estes Park, Colorado that my parents built, so we will be spending much more time out there. We love to travel so we will do more of that – we’re looking forward to visiting Greece this fall! I have always wanted to take a photography course, so that’s also on my to-do list. I am keeping my NACE Membership so maybe you’ll see me at Experience Conference as well!

With whom do you enjoy spending your extra time? Family, friends?
All of the above! Rob, my husband, and I are blessed to have so many friends and family whom we look forward to spending more time with!  Dallas peeps – our card nights are coming back!