Cheryl A. McShane, CMP, president of PEC Meetings Company
Company address: 9224 W. Burleigh Street, Milwaukee, WI 53222
Industry: Hospitality industry, specifically hotel site selection and contracting for meetings and conventions
Number of employees: 5
Family: “I have a wonderful husband, John, of 25 years and two beautiful children. John is the vice president of operations for Veolia North America Industrial Solutions. My son, Ryan, is a senior at UW-Milwaukee. He is studying police science and plays baseball for UWM. My daughter, Taylor, is a sophomore at Kansas State studying business and animal science and rides on their equestrian team.”
What was the smartest thing PEC Meetings Company did in the past year?
“PEC participated in the SBA Emerging Leaders Program. It is an outstanding program that provides the necessary tools and education for small businesses to analyze each department within their business, identify strengths and weaknesses and finally develop a strategy for growth. It has transformed our business!”
What’s new at your company?
“Our emphasis on hotel site selection and contract negotiations. We are still a full-service meeting and event planning firm; however, we have identified that small- to medium-sized organizations that hold meetings, conventions and user conferences really need our assistance with researching the best locations, reviewing contract clauses, assisting with details and monitoring their financial protection. There is a lot of legal language that, if not reviewed carefully, can expose an organization to potential financial damages. Our clients appreciate that we review all of the language, make changes and even provide alternative clauses that are written in the client’s best interest and provide financial protection. The beauty of this type of service is that it’s no cost to our clients.”
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“Yes. We are currently in the process of developing a complete marketing strategy. Once that strategy is in place and has some time to permeate the market, we hope to hire additional staff.”
What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“Getting our message out to those organizations who need us most. Marketing is expensive, and for a small business it’s twice as hard. PEC is competing with nationwide companies and they have huge budgets, so their name recognition and reach is much greater.”
What sets PEC Meetings Company apart from other area meeting and convention planners?
“PEC has a customized hotel contract model that allows us to develop clauses and language that protects the client. We don’t rely on the hotel’s contract that is usually written in the best interest of the hotel. We also take a systematic approach to site selection, contract negotiation and program management. Our clients are never on their own. From the beginning of a project to the post-conference wrap-up, we have a system in place to monitor and manage every detail. Lastly, we are open, honest and transparent with all of our work. Our clients are kept informed at all times and completely understand the process and the ramifications.”
How do you work to bring meetings and conventions to Milwaukee? What makes Milwaukee an attractive destination?
“Milwaukee is truly a hidden gem. We have many advantages, such as our clean and safe city, beautiful brand and boutique hotels, the gorgeous convention center, fun off-site activities such as Brewers Baseball, the Lakefront, our Midwest location and easy access from all parts of the country and friendly people. Those are all tools we use when selling Milwaukee as a destination, but because we’re dealing with corporations and associations that have to justify their spend, the number one reason often becomes affordability. You get all of what we describe and you get it at a reasonable price. Who could ask for anything more than that?”
Do you have a business mantra?
“PEC Meetings Company strives to deliver rewarding meeting and event experiences that exceed our client’s needs, and we foster long-standing relationships of mutual trust and understanding. We like to say that when we begin working with you it’s a business relationship, but through the process it becomes a genuine friendship.”
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“I look up to and applaud all women entrepreneurs and other women who make their dreams possible. We have obstacles that men usually don’t face and it’s important for us to help each other. WWBIC (Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation) does a very good job of this. They have helped many women-owned organizations succeed.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“Run your business by the numbers! Running a business is tough, and if you’re not watching your financials daily or weekly you can get yourself into a difficult situation. If you run your business by the numbers, you have a strong foundation on which to make solid decisions.”
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
“While entering a hotel for a business meeting in New York and having to pass through a revolving door my business partner entered very close behind me. It caused the door to stop and both she and I became wedged in between the door and the wall and we were unable to get through. We clumsily backed up the door and then walked through. All this while meeting attendees watched. Talk about a grand entrance! We still laugh about it to this day!”