Spotlight on Erik Heitmeyer, Senior Business Development Manager, Expositions at Freeman – 2017 Supplier of the Year
The best part of Erik Heitmeyer’s day? Watching the sun rise over the East Bay skyline and San Francisco Bay while driving to the Freeman offices.
During this commute Erik repeats his every day message of “Put the Client First” and this he learned straight from his mother. In fact, it was at his mother’s elbow in the running of the family florist business that he gained his business acumen. By watching her actions and hearing her words of wisdom, “our customers will return knowing they received good service and attention”, he learned that taking care of the customer made her happy each day.
Erik is a Bay area native and graduate of San Francisco State and began his hospitality career at the Moscone Convention Center. Here he feels fortunate to have worked with Bob Sauter, then Director of Events who to this day remains a friend and strong mentor. Sauter’s grounding force, advice, push to learn and to take on new opportunities, encouraged Erik to continue his growth in the industry. Two years as a Production Manager with Jack Morton led to his current role at Freeman and Erik freely admits it would have been great to start his career on the agency side as there is much knowledge there that he could have used earlier.
Darien Bohannon, VP of Business Development at Freeman is another mentor Erik met while at Moscone. Bohannon expressed early interest and was repeatedly suggesting that one day they would work together. It was through his support and their partnerships over the years that he became the catalyst in urging Erik to join the Freeman team.
Erik is solidly customer centric, putting the needs of his clients first and keeping their best interest at heart. His philosophy: By treating your colleagues and your clients the way you would like to be treated, giving the level of service you would like to receive, builds trust as a partner. His commitment to the client is the reason Erik was not in the audience to receive his award personally. He remained on program in Las Vegas to ensure that his client received the best service and was happy with the outcome.
Winning this award was initially awkward for Erik as he believes he is just doing what he does and putting his best foot forward. He is quick to point out that Supplier of the Year is not an individual award, but a team effort. “I feel fortunate to be a part of the Freeman organization where I am empowered to be able to partner with clients and engage in our hospitality community. This award is meaningful and hard to accept as an individual because it is more about the team and for the team than for me alone, it is how Freeman is perceived and exemplifies what can be done as a collective organization.”
When asked his advice for future hospitality professionals, Erik shared, “Treat everyone with respect, you never know who you are speaking to and where they may be next time. Every time you engage, talk to someone or handle a situation, that is your brand; and you are creating your brand from day one.”
Jennifer Lee Witherington, CMP, DMCP
National Director, Business Development
ACCESS Destination Services