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February 2014 Member Spotlight

February Member Spotlight

Here we go again! Our February Member Spotlight is .... (Insert Drumroll here)
Laura Walsh of Olympia Catering!
Laura Walsh February 2014 Member Spotlight

You may be asking yourself ... How can I become featured as a Tampa Bay NACE Member Spotlight? It's easy as 1,2 3!
#1 You must attend meetings!
#2 Find Jessica Lattenhauer and drop your card in the Member Spotlight Box
#3 You must be the Lucky Winner and a member of Tampa Bay NACE Chapter.

If you win and you are not a current member ... we will give you an opportunity to join the club!

We will pull for March's Member Spotlight this month on February 18th, 2014 at the meeting ... Be there! or be square!

Here is Tampa Bay NACE's February 2014 Member Spotlight:

It all started with Wedding Wire.

Let me explain: when I was looking for a wedding caterer a few years ago I referred to the trusty Wedding Wire reviews to find my vendors. I decided on Olympia Catering – the food was delicious and the people were great!
Fast forward a year later where I found myself served an ultimatum from my corporate sales job – I had to move to another territory (thousands of miles away from my hometown of Tampa) or they would let me go. Nervous, but excited for new opportunities, I chose the latter. I wanted to introduce myself to the weddings and events industry. I thought about different local companies I could try and get my foot in the door, and Olympia was ringing in my mind. 

I was able to get a part-time position here in 2012, supporting the sales staff with whatever they needed – entering contracts, making menu signs, floral arranging, etc. I began to learn what the company was made of and fell in love.

You see, Olympia is a family owned company and the business began way back in the 1920’s. There is quite a bit of fascinating history and stages the business went through – each day I hear stories and find out a little more. In fact, many still refer to us as Olympia Bakery because we started off that way. José and Carlotta Diaz (the current owner’s grandparents) opened the bakery in Ybor City in 1924. In the 50’s, their son, Joseph Diaz, took ownership and moved the bakery to the current location on Howard Avenue. In the 90’s, Joe’s son, Darren, took over the reins of the business. He closed down the retail bakery portion of Olympia and expanded our catering services.

While the history is intriguing, the diverse team of people at Olympia really drew me into the business. Each and every person is able to make an incredible impact on the success of the organization. We all have different skills and everyone is a sounding board for the other, resulting in innovative, well-designed and executed menus for spectacular events. We also do whatever it takes as a team to make sure the end result is exactly what we promised our clients.

Of course, it all comes down to the products and services we offer. While our core business is full-service catered events, we also have a drop-off delivery service and our pre-order bakery/cake business. In addition, we have a restaurant, the MFA Café, at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and manage all of the catered events there.

When it comes to full-service events, the sky (or more realistically the budget) is the limit. We can customize menus, create themed events, provide rentals, upgrades, and more. I remember as a newcomer it was jaw dropping - imagine - all sorts of shiny cooking equipment, warehouses full of props, and rooms full of glassware, china, and beautiful linens! With these resources, our experience, and knowledge we are able to offer many different services to our clients, providing an incredible value.

In 2013, I was promoted to Marketing Manager, taking over the management of the brand, the website, social media, marketing events, design of sales tools, etc. The same year began one of transformation for Olympia Catering. We re-aligned the business model and hired in key areas including sales and operations. We launched a new contemporary logo and clearly defined the areas of importance to our organization.

As Olympia is entering its 90th year in business our focus is to keep expanding in the areas where we excel while maintaining a high level of service and quality. We strive to keep learning, innovating, and not confine ourselves in the “cookie-cutter-caterer” mold. We also want to build on our relationships and keep strengthening the integrity of the event industry in the Tampa Bay area. 
As for me, I am thankful the reviews on Wedding Wire led me to this career and wonderful team here at Olympia. I’m working on some exciting projects and can’t wait to share them with everyone!

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