Event Solutions | 2004 Event Industry Hall of Fame Inductees

In 2002, the Inaugural Class of the Event Solutions Event Industry Hall of Fame was inducted at the Spotlight Awards evening in Miami. This year’s inductees to this auspicious group included caterer Tim Lundy, planner Mona Meretsky and security specialist Peter Kranske. Each honoree has pioneered growth and professionalism in his or her elements of the evolving event industry. Each received the Hall of Fame Award designed by Crystal Impressions.

Mona S. Meretsky, CSEP
President, COMCOR Event and Meeting Production Inc.

Mona S. Meretsky, CSEP, had visions of “Sugarplum Fairies” as a child growing up in Miami. She dreamed of being a ballerina. But, after 14 years of dance and some good advice from her instructor, it was off to college. First she thought of being a sociologist, then a fashion designer. Finally, Meretsky found her way to the school of business at Ohio State University.

She inadvertently entered the event industry when she married and moved to Detroit. She took a position as executive secretary at a large communications firm that promised to promote from within. The firm kept its promise and sent Meretsky to California as a production coordinator for a film crew. The rest is history.

After five years, Meretsky returned to Florida. She helped produce a week-long meeting/event for an automotive company. This inspired her to start her own company in 1984, operating from an office in her den at home. She concentrated on corporate meetings, incentive programs and special events, targeting specific corporations that planned events in Florida, and with whom she could build long-term relationships.

Built on trust and anchored by creativity and quality service, Meretsky’s business has drawn in many major corporations, and she is proud that many of her clients have been with her for years.

In 1999, she opened a consulting division, COMCOR Consulting Services Inc. (CCSI). This expanded her opportunities to participate in the design/redesign phase of hotels, conference centers and special event venues, making them more “event-friendly.” Along the way, she has also been called upon to be an expert witness, think tank member and a “closer” for a venue investor.

Meretsky and COMCOR have received many honors from the event industry, Florida publications and the community. She is a founder of ISES and was the first president of the South Florida/Caribbean Chapter. She is also a member of MPI and SITE and has served on numerous boards, including the SEARCH Foundation. 

Even with 32 years of experience, Meretsky remains active in the educational aspects of the industry. “If I can learn one new thing at a conference or expo, it’s worth my time. Besides, I get to see my friends!” she says. “Who could ever have imagined that my first job would lead me along this wondrous path! It is even better than my visions of Sugarplum Fairies.”

First year in the industry:

What I thought I was going to be when I grew up:
A ballerina.

I got into the event industry because:
After three months as his executive secretary, my boss asked me to coordinate the production of an industrial motion picture. Even though I lacked experienced, he said, “You’ll learn.” He gave me wings!

Biggest event success:
Two events had major influence on the direction of my career. My first sporting event was the opening of the inaugural season for the NHL Florida Panthers team. I broke into the “live” market, where the timeline is in seconds, not minutes. The second event was the production of three events for Voyager of the Seas, at that time the world’s largest cruise ship, which would repeat themselves each time the ship sailed. Each event had an original music score, performances and custom-designed costumes (by Designs by Sean), which were meant to entertain the passengers and keep them partying late into the night.

Biggest disaster:
The event was for a first-time customer. Throughout the week prior to the event, the calypso band that we had booked did not respond to our confirmation calls. So, we hired a second band. At setup time, neither band had arrived. We readied A/V, bought island music CDs and were ready to go when the originally-hired band showed up. Sometimes you need to be twice as prepared…and ready to be out of money—as we would have been by hiring the second band as a back-up if they had showed up!

Most valuable lesson learned:
Safety first and get everything in writing. COMCOR’s very detailed contracts have earned us great respect from our clients.

Best piece of advice I ever received:
Charge what you are worth. Don’t be afraid to charge a professional fee.

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