Call it a coincidence or call it a trend. Either way, the recent exodus of two top executives from Coca-Cola Co. appears to be the meeting and hospitality industries' gain.
In October, meeting management company Conferon Global Services, Twinsburg, Ohio, hired Ed Shartar from the soft drink giant as chief executive officer. Shartar had been the CEO of the company's Canadian operations, Coca-Cola Ltd., Toronto. He replaces Mike Goodwin, who left Conferon at the end of 2003, explains Marian Calvin, Conferon spokeswoman. Bruce Harris, founder of the company, remains president of CGS. As part of CGS's executive restructuring, Dave Lutz, president of the Conferon division, takes a new position as president of Conferon and ExpoExchange. Bob Lucke, current president of ExpoExchange, is now the executive vice president of business development for CGS.
In September, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, White Plains, N.Y., landed another big fish from the soda pop maker. Steven Heyer, the president and chief operating officer at Coca-Cola, joined Starwood as its new CEO. He replaces company founder Barry Sternlicht, who becomes executive chairman.
Incidentally, Coca-Cola suffered its worst quarter in more than two years in the third quarter as earnings dropped 24 percent. Starwood, on the other hand, saw net income double in the third quarter.