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Luncheon Speaker Series: Hospitality

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Hospitality industry has been faring well for several years now with consumers wanting a new experience every time they step into a hotel or restaurant. In NEO the RNC sparked hotel & restaurant investment, and Cleveland became a destination city nationwide. We will look to our expert panel to talk about their strategies in terms of growth of their businesses, how we compare to other markets, and how we continue the momentum here in Cleveland.


Kelli Schaffran, ASID, LEED AP, Director of Interior Design  |  K2M Design

Engaging, resourceful, & forward thinking, Kelli Schaffran excels in her position as Director of Interior Design. Her 20+ years of experience speak for themselves with projects varying in program type, complexity, & scale. With extensive hospitality, commercial office, & residential design experience, she guides the K2M Design Interiors division by leveraging her wealth of knowledge and expertise to ensure project outcomes that consistently exceed expectations.

Kelli prides herself on her ability to understand the client’s goals & deliver authentic solutions. Her remarkable communication skills guarantee that all team members, including the client, remain informed throughout the design process. As a key member of the leadership team, Kelli is responsible for portfolio development, monitoring the progress of projects, reviewing design documentation, & serving as the primary point of contact for clients.

In addition to being the recipient of several high profile design awards, Kelli has also been honored numerous times as a keynote speaker during national hospitality conferences. Kelli’s upbeat attitude, coupled with her focus on organization & teamwork, make her an indispensable part of the K2M Design team.


Rocco Whalen  |  Farenheit

Rocco Whalen, if nothing else, is wrapped up in the love of cooking: the idea and vitality of it, the invention and sustainability of it, and the day-to-day enrichment of it. All combine as convictions he affectionately shares with regulars and first-timers who dine at his remarkable restaurant, Fahrenheit the first open-air rooftop restaurant and bar in Uptown Charlotte, and also in Cleveland’s historic Tremont neighborhood.

Rocco does not stand still.  Which is why, today, with Fahrenheit home to a packed house every day of the week, he has emerged as one of the best chefs in Charlotte, in Cleveland and in the Midwest. His restaurants and recipes have been featured nationwide. He is also a sought after television personality and culinary guest on the Food Network, the Travel Channel, and numerous local TV news programs.

Early in his culinary career, Rocco held positions with Wolfgang Puck at Spago, Obachin, Granita and Chinois. As the Fahrenheit Restaurants have grown, he also expanded his brand with Rosie & Rocco’s; Rocco’s at the Q at Quicken Loans Arena; Great Lakes Cheesesteaks  and Rosie & Rocco’s both at FirstEnergy Stadium; All Access Café at the Cleveland Rock Hall of Fame; and traveling near and far in his food truck, ShortRib1.

Rex Carpenter, AIA, LEED AP  |  IRG Realty Advisors

Prior to joining IRGRA in April of this year, Rex was a partner in a global architecture firm focused on mixed use environments. Past experience in the hospitality sector includes the University of Texas AT&T Hotel and Conference Center and a duel brand hotel in Denver’s downtown. He is currently working on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Hotel and Mixed Use development, repurposing of an existing office building into a mid-market hotel  and a Boutique Hotel and destination Spa focused on a connection to nature.

Cheryl Wearsch, Asset Manager  |  The Millenia Companies

Cheryl Wearsch is the Asset Manager for Key Center. She uses her years of experience in both the hospitality industry and the multi-family apartment industry to ensure financial and physical performance of Key Center. Prior to being the Asset Manager for Key Center, Cheryl was the Human Resources and Payroll Director for the Millennia Companies®. She was responsible for all HR functions at Millennia, from strategic policy development to maintaining positive employee relations, making her both a valued HR planner and hands-on professional. Specifically, Cheryl developed and aligned HR policy with Millennia business goals, developed effective and ongoing employee training programs, and supported employee payroll.  Cheryl was actively involved in the acquisition process providing staff benchmarks and wage bands for new locations and product types.

Cheryl’s hospitality expertise includes working for branded hotels as well as high-end, all-inclusive resorts and spas. While the Human Resource function was Cheryl’s area of responsibility, Cheryl was also a member of the executive team at each hotel and worked as a part of the operational team to ensure all brand standards were met as well as meeting the financial goals of the owner. As a member of the executive team she reviewed the financial performance of the asset on a monthly basis, working closely with each department leader to react quickly to an ever changing hotel market. Guest satisfaction was driven through the training programs that Cheryl and her team created and delivered to the associates.  Ensuring the highest level of guest service and satisfaction was a key component to the success of each hotel.  Cheryl developed and facilitated training programs on hotel operations and fiscal responsibility for all new managers and executives.

A talented and valuable member of the Millennia Companies® team, Cheryl has a BA in Human Resource Management from Kent State University. She is also a Certified Hospitality Trainer through the AH&LA.

Brent Zimmerman, CEO / Co-Founder  |  Saucy Brew Works

Brent Zimmerman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Saucy Brew Works, a Production Brewery located in Ohio City, west of downtown Cleveland. The business has grown from ground up to over 8,000 barrels of beer in a little under 1.5 years post opening their doors. Brent is a highly accomplished senior executive, entrepreneur, and investment management leader with a rare combination of high intellect and deep relational capacity. He has extensive experience in investment management, capital trading, and entrepreneurship. Brent also has a deep understanding of value and the inner workings of capital markets, with an outstanding ability to overview the market horizon and spot opportunities ahead of time. With a long track record of successfully navigating completely differing sectors of the economy and building sustainable businesses from scratch, Brent is a highly energetic leader with the power to motivate, build winning teams and find the right specialist for each task. He is experienced in investment, real estate development projects, retail food service and franchise businesses and well-versed in wide variety of industries. Along with Saucy Brew Works, Brent is  the CEO / Founder of ReSpring and has also completed many development projects in the Cleveland area through Brent Zimmerman Development.

Register for Event  

Event Location

City Club
850 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Phone: 2166210082
When: 11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Event Sponsors

Albert M. Higley Company
Marous Brothers Construction

Sponsor the Event

What our sponsors are saying...

“SMPS has been a tremendous resource to our company [CBLH]. It has reshaped the way we conduct marketing. All of their programs, seminars, articles and conferences have given us the ability to educate our marketing staff on the changing tactics and strategies facing our industry. Lastly, we have built relationships through all the networking opportunities SMPS offers. It only made sense to support our chapter through sponsorship as they have supported us”.

John Rach, AIA, Director of Marketing
CBLH Design, Inc.

“We are proud once again to support the local SMPS Northeast Ohio Chapter as renewing Annual Sponsor, and have been actively engaged with the SMPS NEO Chapter for over 5 years now. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the SMPS NEO family, as it has brought us closer together with the local A/E/C community and has created new partnerships with fellow SMPS'ers.”

PCS Annual Sponsor

"My membership with SMPS was gifted to me while working at Karpinski Engineering and while I was hesitant to get involved in the operations of the board, I can’t imagine life without SMPS and my fellow committee members. Volunteering has afforded me not only great professional relationships, but great friendships as well. I truly believe our board members are the best around and some of the hardest working individuals I know. In short, I joined SMPS for the educational resources and have stayed for the relationships and interaction with fellow contemporaries and the fun."

Vanessa Aron

"As someone who was new to the industry, I was inspired by the NEO board members and all the hard work and dedication they put in to provide this region with an organization that is educational, entertaining and that puts you face to face with some of the most significant people throughout the A/E/C industry. As Membership & Social Media Chair, if I can give back to others half of what SMPSNEO has given to me; my job will have been a success."

Dave Eyssen
Precision Environmental Co.

"I discovered SMPS while looking at a Properties Magazine (no plug intended) and had a discussion with the owner of my firm, Scott Maloney. He encouraged me to get involved but stressed to really be engaged and take a role in the organization to really get something out of your membership. He was right! It was easy to engage with such a great group of people but really getting involved, being a part of the organization and not just an attendee has really opened up doors and introductions that would not have been possible. Coming from outside of the A/E/C industry prior to working at K2M, SMPS really helped me to understand and grasp this dynamic industry."

Stephanie C.
K2M Design

“The Mentor/Protégé program provided me a third-party resource to help me clarify and realize some of my career goals. By working with a mentor, I was able to identify those areas where I could improve my marketing skills, but also helped me see where my strengths were of benefit to my organization. I highly recommend this one-on-one program!”

Tamara Zupancic
Tec Inc.