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While most of the industry struggled through 2009, it was a banner year for Robbinsville, N.J.–based Meeting Alliance. The reason? David D’Eletto, founding partner along with Michael Franks and Barbara Jackson, describe it as “the perfect storm of meetings.” While the company usually does one big product launch a year, it ended up with two. And then, a client decided to do a national sales meeting for 3,000 people on board a cruise ship.
But Meeting Alliance’s good fortune wasn’t mere luck. The company’s business model and corporate culture have played an unmistakable role in it success. D’Eletto has many phrases to describe his company’s values: offering personalized customer service, acting like a big company but being run like a small business, nurturing an owner mentality rather than an employee mentality. What it comes down to is this: When he and his partners left McGettigan in 1995 to start the business, they had a vision of what they wanted to be, and they have remained true to that.
“We know everything about our business,” he says. “Vendors and customers like the fact that when they come to visit, they meet with the owners.”
The staff is tightly knit. “If we bring in a new person, they get dozens of welcome e-mails. When it’s lunchtime, we leave work behind for a few minutes, and enjoy each other’s company.
“We run a very lean company. We do over 100 meetings and source over 500, but we do that with a staff of no more than 20 people in the office,” he says. And the closeness in the office extends to the freelance team, a pool of 12 to 15 people who the partners know well.
In larger organizations, all of this would be known as corporate culture; in his understated way, he refers to it as “the Meeting Alliance family.”
There’s one more piece to the puzzle: Unlike larger companies, the partners’ goal is not to get bigger and bigger. “We want to keep our size, to keep our 10 to 15 clients. That way, they know at any moment that we’re aware of what’s going on with them. We tell them: You focus on your internal clients and we’ll take care of the rest.”