BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week: Richard Frenette

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:17 pm

Richard Frenette, CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park
Company Address: 640 S. 84th St., West Allis, WI 53214
Industry: Event & Facility Management
Employees: 44 full-time, 200 part-time year-round, 1,200 part-time during Wisconsin State Fair
Family: Wife (Lynette), two adult children (Shannon 32, Joshua 29)

What accounts for the Wisconsin State Fair’s success this past year with record attendance rates?

“The record success of the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair is the pinnacle of a continued success story over the last four years. Each year we have addressed our challenges to better serve our fair guests. It is our goal to provide an educational and entertaining experience that appeals to every demographic, and the people of Wisconsin and our neighboring states have responded by attending the Fair year after year and enjoying all we have to offer.”

What steps will you take in the coming year to mirror that success during next summer’s fair?

“We will continue to upgrade aspects of the Wisconsin State Fair that enhance the fair guest experience. We also plan to continue our high-level marketing and public awareness programs and increase our educational programming.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your organization in the next year?

“The Wisconsin State Fair operates as a state agency; therefore we are limited to the number of full-time employees we can have on staff. As the State Fair continues to grow and the number of year-round events increases, we plan to increase the number of part-time employees in 2014. Wisconsin State Fair Park is an aging facility and we are constantly upgrading our infrastructure to meet our present needs. Our first priority in 2014 is to work with the state and upgrade our electrical system. We will also invest in more amenities for our guests to make their visits to State Fair Park even more pleasant.”

What will be your organization’s main challenges in the next year?

“Now that we have hosted over a million fair guests during the Fair’s 11-day run, our main challenge will be to keep up with the added needs of the high volume of attendees. Infrastructure, traffic management, parking, waste removal, water and sewer and added comfort areas are all areas we will continue to grow and improve throughout Wisconsin State Fair Park. Maintaining our high quality level of family-friendly entertainment, educational experiences and interactive exhibits while managing our financial goals is always a challenge.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“People are very interested in learning how food gets from the farm to your plate – especially in urban communities. The Fair is a great venue for educating the public about this, as well as offering general education about the challenges Wisconsin’s agricultural community faces in today’s world. New and unique foods are also very trendy now in the Fair business, and the Wisconsin State Fair kept pace this year by adding more than 70 new food items.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“My business is people and my leadership style focuses on team management. I am only as good as the team that works with me on a daily basis to produce the Wisconsin State Fair, in addition to the more than 400 other events hosted by Wisconsin State Fair Park.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“My father mentored me in the fair business and taught me the value of a strong work ethic at a young age, and he has always been someone I look up to. One of the most important things he taught me was to never lead people down a path that you would not travel yourself.”

What was the best advice you ever received?

“Simple: work hard, pay attention to detail, experience what your customers are experiencing and give credit where it is due.”

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?

“In this industry, I interact and work with several unique characters and have many stories surrounding my relationships with them, many of which remain solely with me. To signal out the funniest would be hard to do.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I enjoy watching sports and spend a lot of time attending Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers football games, as well as playing golf and working out. I also like walking through the Third Ward and just enjoying all of the attractions and entertainment Milwaukee has to offer.”

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