NORTHFIELD, Ohio — Baskets Galore captured its third consecutive Connectors Choice Award while Rock The House, FastSigns Downtown Cleveland, and Marigold Catering extended their CCA dominance March 2 at the Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park.
Presented by Cleveland Business Connects magazine and parent company Contempo Communications, the ninth-annual CCA ceremony attracted nearly 400 attendees to the Rocksino. CBC crowned 22 winners — based exclusively on the 2015 accomplishments of those organizations, individuals, and events — in categories that represent the local corporate events industry and business networking community.
“I’m proud and honored that CBC and Contempo were able to showcase the best in Northeast Ohio’s business networking and corporate events arena,” CBC Publisher and Contempo President Renee DeLuca Dolan said. “The professionals in these industries work tirelessly throughout the year, and this is a chance for them to really shine. I’m thrilled we can provide a platform for all business professionals that attend to networking, provide services, and support one another in a wonderful environment, surrounded by great entertainment, an awards presentation, and a platform for connecting. That’s what CBC is all about. I can’t wait until our 10-year celebration of the CCA’s next year.”
Deborah Wasylko, the CEO of Brunswick-based Baskets Galore, won gold for the third consecutive year in the category of Corporate Event Gift/Awards Company of the Year. “People love unexpected surprises and opening boxes. This is what creates an emotional bond with the important people in your life,” Wasylko said. “When you give first and do good, so much good comes back to you. The CCA award means so much to us because it validates what we do — help people engage with others to improve their bottom lines.”
Rock The House triumphed in the category of Corporate Event Entertainer of the Year. The Oakwood Village-based company has now won three times in the entertainer category and four times in the corporate event production category.
“Our busiest year to date, Rock The House brought 1,800 custom events to life in 2015,” Amy Van Duyne, executive assistant to the CEO, said. “Our team of event producers and designers, talented party motivators, club-style DJs, dynamic emcee hosts, and our RTH Live band created heartfelt and energetic experiences for corporate and social clients. Each event was completely unique and incredibly entertaining.”
The Corporate Event Production Company of the Year award went to GhostLight Productions for the third time in since 2012. FastSigns grabbed the Corporate Event Sign and Banner Company of the Year award for the sixth time in nine years. “In 2015 Cleveland was on the national and international stage. The event industry is always fun, and this past year was especially rewarding, Kay Doyle, the owner of FastSigns Downtown Cleveland, said.
Marigold Catering, already a four-time winner in the offsite catering category, earned its second crown as the Corporate Event Onsite Caterer of the Year. The Corporate Event Offsite Caterer of the Year award went to first-time winner Driftwood Catering.
A pair of venues won CCA plates for the first time. Metropolitan at the 9 was named the Corporate Event Hotel of the Year and Music Box Supper Club won the category of Corporate Event Non-Hotel of the Year. “Cleveland is going through such an amazing renaissance. We are very proud to be on its doorstep, able to watch the transformation from our riverside vantage point,” Music Box owner Mike Miller said. “We feel one of the key driving forces behind the renaissance is the business community stepping up to say, ‘We’re proud to be based in Cleveland.’ It’s this commitment to our community that will make this renaissance have an even bigger impact.”
Another first-time winner was AAble Rents. The Euclid-based firm was the fourth different winner in as many years in the category of Corporate Event Rental Company of the Year.
Neil Leeson Decor Floral, based in Akron, garnered the Corporate Event Floral Design Company of the Year award for the second time in four years.
In the corporate events categories, the winners were: the Council of Smaller Enterprises for its Small Business Convention (non-fundraiser); New Partners of Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center for its Cleveland Big Wheel Relay at Shaker Square (fundraiser with less than a $50,000 planning budget); and Lake Health Foundation for its Glitz 2015: Field of Dreams event at Classic Park (fundraiser with greater than a $50,000 planning budget).
“Glitz 2015 was an amazing experience in planning and executing,” Tracy M. Dennis, special events and annual giving coordinator with Lake Health Foundation, said. “Our goal to make it different than 2014 by taking our guests back to a different time, a simpler time, when baseball was America’s pastime, truly shined through in every aspect of the event. From the vintage baseball team to the barbershop quartet to the old-time attire, it felt like the 1920s. The event, with nearly 700 guests, raised $358,000 to benefit the Emergency Medicine Fund, Wellness Walk Fund, and Hunger as a Health Issue initiative.”
Of the Small Business Convention, held at Public Auditorium, COSE Event Manager Adina Magda said: “Every year we try to make the Small Business Convention an even better experience for our attendees. The fact that we were simultaneously celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the convention and our return to Cleveland after hosting the Convention in Sandusky for three years just made it even more important that we step up our game.”
The two winners of the Corporate Event Planner of the Year awards were Jeannie Vassanelli, the director of sales and event operations at Executive Caterers, and “rising star” Alyssa Perna, the head of event operations for the Americas at Smithers Information. “After three years of being nominated for this award, I was shocked and honored to have finally won in 2016, the last year I was eligible for it,” Perna said. “My career in events has been an exciting adventure so far, and I look forward to seeing what the future may hold.”
For the second consecutive year Dale McDonald won Corporate Event Photographer of the Year.
Lisa Ryan, the founder of Grategy, became the seventh different winner in nine years in the category of Corporate Event Speaker of the Year. “Somebody once told me that it takes at least five years to build a successful business. I never really understood that until this year,” Ryan said. “I realize that a five-year anniversary is a huge reason to celebrate. No. 1, a lot of businesses don’t make it that long. And No. 2, I finally feel that I’ve mastered the basics and can now take Grategy to the next level.”
In the five business networking categories, organizational winners included the Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce (all-around), the National Association of Women Business Owners (women), and Engage! Cleveland (young professionals).
“2015 was a year of incredible growth for Engage! Cleveland as we received our 501c3 designation, moved out of our incubator space, and were able to provide the young professional community with additional networking opportunities,” Ashley Basile Oeken, the president of Engage! Cleveland, said.
Said Angie Pohlman, the executive director of HRCC: “Receiving the award for best networking organization is a thrill. We get to celebrate and recognize the intentional, personal relationships that are being built between the chamber and our members and helping to facilitate truly meaningful member to member connections by being genuinely interested in them.”
Added Megan Patton, the president of NAWBO Cleveland: “We provide networking, education, and social events for women business owners. We are open to all women business owners — our group is welcoming and fun. As one of our members, Linda Ford, says, ‘NAWBO is equivalent to an MBA for business owners.'”
The two winners of the Business Networking Star of the Year awards were Jacob Holland, the creative director at Event Source, and “rising star” Chad Gourley, the director of marketing and community outreach at Torva Local.
About Cleveland Business Connects magazine: CBC is a regional B2B and B2C publication that covers Corporate Northeast Ohio with a particular focus on female professionals/entrepreneurs as well as business networking and corporate event planning. The magazine started in November of 2006 and now publishes every other month. Please visit www.cbcmagazine.com.
About parent company Contempo Communications: Contempo Communications is the result of a 2010 merger between full-service graphic design firm (Contemporary Design Group Inc.) and its sister publishing firm (CBC Publishing LLC). This union empowers Contempo Communications with a unique expertise specific to the creative/marketing, publishing, and event industries. Please visit www.gocontempogo.com.