Jeff Gajewski has been a valued member of the JHE team for three years. Currently serving as vice president of business development, the Michigan-native’s responsibilities include strengthening the sales division, producing new business opportunities and managing the sales and creative departments.
Prior to joining JHE, the Michigan native worked in sales and marketing at the Heritage Golf Group, TPC Michigan (Dearborn), RSIG Security and Campbell & Co. He graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communications.
He currently resides in Cornelius, N.C., with his wife, Keri, and two daughters, Aven and Harper.
Q&A with Jeff:
What is the best lesson from college that still applies to your job? Make sure you ask exactly what your role will be when working an event; otherwise you may end up wearing a mascot uniform.
What is the best career advice you ever received? Don’t be afraid to take chances and make mistakes but always make sure you learn from them when they happen.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned at JHE? When reserving a golf cart from our transportation department make sure you also reserve a key for said golf cart.
What is the accomplishment at JHE you are most proud of? The redesign of The Sprint Experience. Being able to develop the concept with our design team from the start and see it all the way through the build process was extremely rewarding.
What made you want to become a part of the JHE family? I was very familiar with JHE’s work prior to joining the company. I was always impressed with the work ethic of the team and ability to make really difficult jobs look easy.
What is the biggest myth about your job? Everyone thinks the sales department starts drinking cocktails around noon everyday like they do on “Mad Men.” The truth is we wait until 3 p.m. most days.
What is the insider secret to your job? Most people in sales roles focus too hard on selling; we try to focus more on discovering what a client really wants and how they define success. Once we establish those parameters, we can create an event experience that matches their vision.
What’s your secret to success? Asking a lot of questions and listening.
What is the best part of working at JHE? Being able to be creative and work with brands that want to create fun experiences for fans.
What You Might Not Know About Jeff…
I’m inspired by… Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company. He was able to change the culture of an entire company in a very short amount of time and make it profitable in an economic downturn.
I start my day by… watching “Dora the Explorer” with my daughter.
My favorite app is… the Starbucks card. It makes me feel less guilty about their expensive coffee and it tracks my “stars” so I know when I’ve earned a free drink.
On my iPod playlist right now is…Otis Redding, Mumford and Sons and Eminem
My biggest pet peeve is… Ohio State fans.
My family is… growing. We just had our second daughter in February and already have a 2-year-old daughter.
I spend my weekends… chasing my daughter around and trying to watch at least a few Detroit Lions games during the football season.
My favorite sport is… Detroit Lions football. Not sure why since they continually let me down year after year.
I don’t leave home without… a travel mug full of coffee.
My favorite hobby is… golf. I was fortunate to work at two private clubs as a sales marketing director which allowed me the opportunity to play a lot of golf. It also gave me a better appreciation and overall understanding of the game which has made it more enjoyable.
My favorite vacation yet was to… wine country with my wife, Keri. Anytime you can go right from drinking coffee to drinking wine before noon, it’s a good day.
My favorite movie is… “Star Wars.”
My favorite quote is… “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” -Henry Ford
The best concert I’ve ever seen is… Kid Rock with Rev. Run at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Anytime you see Kid Rock in Detroit it’s a great show. Add an hour of Run D.M.C. songs to one of his shows and it’s pretty amazing.
Stay in touch with Jeff on Twitter at @JeffGajewski.
Jeff Gajewski, The Sprint Experience, Alan Mulally, Kid Rock
Since 2003, Ryan Baxter has been a valued member of the JHE family. Serving as chief operating officer, Baxter is responsible for strategic planning, oversight of the staff, staff development and business growth. During his 10 years at JHE, he has also held roles as vice president and general manager, vice president of production/operations and director of events.
Prior to joining JHE, Baxter worked in the athletic facilities and game operations departments at Wofford College and Marshall University. The West Virginia-native graduated with a Master of Science in athletic administration and received his Bachelor of Science in Sports Management and Marketing from Marshall University.
He currently lives in Huntersville, N.C., with his wife, Krisha, and children, Austin and Sydney.
Q&A with Baxter:
- What is the best lesson from college that still applies to your job? You have to work hard to get what you want.
- What is the best career advice you ever received? Worry about what you can control.
- What is the most important lesson you’ve learned at JHE? Patience and versatility.
- What’s your secret to success? Being a team player and doing whatever needs to be done to accomplish the end goal.
- How did you help bring the IndyCar business back to JHE? I used to oversee the IndyCar program and created a relationship with Joe Hodge, director of event marketing at IndyCar. Even when we weren’t working with the series, I kept in touch with Joe. When the opportunity arose, he reached out to us and the rest is history.
- What are you most looking forward to as IndyCar becomes a JHE partner again? It gives JHE an opportunity to continue to expand its opening ceremonies arm of the business. The partnership is also an opportunity to expand our relationships with tracks we don’t usually work with.
Six things you might not know about Baxter…
- I’m inspired by… my father.
- My biggest pet peeve is… when people are late.
- My family is… the most important part of my life.
- I spend my weekends… typically hanging out with my family.
- My favorite sport is… baseball; I love everything that goes into it.
- My favorite quote is… “Our strength as a whole is better than the sum of all our parts.” It’s something a former coach of mine use to say that emphasized it takes a team to win not just the play of individuals.
To keep up with Baxter, follow him on Twitter @RBax13.
Ryan Baxter, IndyCar
JHE recently announced three internal promotions and additions to the executive leadership team. Cassie Brickman will take the helm as vice president of events, Matt Davis has been selected to serve as vice president of operations, and Jeff Gajewski has been promoted to vice president of business development.
“As JHE faces its next 25 years in business, it’s imperative to grow and challenge the next set of leaders,” says Jay Howard, president and founder of JHE. “Cassie, Matt and Jeff are our future. They have demonstrated outstanding customer service, an ability to exceed expectations and a commitment to the JHE culture that will make each of them assets in the future.”
Responsible for JHE’s strategic event planning, Brickman has assumed responsibility for facilitating and executing event concepts, event marketing, cultivating and servicing client relationships, contract negotiations, budget management and managing a team of 18 employees. Before joining JHE, Brickman worked for Learfield Sports and has extensive experience in event management, sponsorship sales and marketing.
As vice president of operations, Davis will oversee a team of 42 people specializing in operations, travel, transportation, and audio/video. His responsibilities include strategic planning, infrastructure assembly, conceptualization, transportation oversight and execution management for the company’s opening ceremonies, mobile tours and live events. Prior to joining JHE six years ago, Davis gained valuable experience in the facilities departments at both Marshall University and the University of Central Florida.
In his new role, Gajewski will continue to strengthen the sales division of JHE by garnering new business opportunities for the multi-faceted organization. With his promotion, he also will oversee the in-house creative services and sales teams. The new vice president of business development has more than 13 years of experience in sales and marketing including previous positions at Heritage Golf Group, RSIG Security and PCG Campbell.
Cassie Brickman, Matt Davis, Jeff Gajewski, Jay Howard