Check out this interview with a member of the KC Antiques Expo team, featuring some pretty spectacular antiques on KSHB Channel 41 by clicking here!
By Brooklyn Lutz
Vrooooom. Just like the drivers on the track, the PR professionals behind the scenes of auto racing are also used to fast-paced action. From traveling across the country for different races, to ensuring positive stories are published in the press, the life of a public relations director in this industry is anything but easy.
I had the opportunity of meeting Kelly Hale this past June at the Salhen’s 6 Hours of the Glen race at Watkins Glen International. She gave me some great pointers on how to land a coveted job in this business and also agreed to let me interview her when we both came home to Kansas City.
Me: So many young public relations professionals, including myself, hope to work in the auto racing industry, but what most don’t understand is how fast-paced the industry really is. Can you briefly explain your daily responsibilities as director of public relations at Kansas Speedway? And how do those daily responsibilities change during a race weekend?
Kelly: First, this is one of my favorite questions. Unfortunately, (but sometimes fortunately) no two days are alike. The two things I try to do every day are reading the latest local and national news, and I try to reach out to 2-3 reporters each day. From there, it really depends on the time of year. I could be promoting one of the events that we will have staff, I could be assisting with promotion of an event at the track, an upcoming driver appearance, etc.
On race weekend, in addition to handling media relations for the Speedway, which includes setting up on site interviews, answering media questions, making sure the media center and press box are staffed and media have the appropriate credentials, I also am responsible for our pre-race activities which include driver introductions, pre-race concerts, post-race concerts, scheduling color guard, invocation and national anthem, making sure the appropriate people are introduced at the driver’s meetings, escorting VIPs and assigning driver/owner motorcoach spaces for the weekend. Fortunately, I have a great media center staff that can essentially run the media center without me! The staff is able to answer about 95% of the questions we get, which helps me be able to focus on the large items that need to be taken care of during a weekend.
Me: Wow, that sounds exhilarating! I’ve noticed that you have worked for NASCAR in the past and now work for an individual race track, Kansas Speedway. What would you say is the biggest difference and similarity between these two jobs?
Kelly: The biggest difference for me personally is the travel schedule. When I worked for NASCAR I was on the road 30 weeks a year. Now, I travel to a couple of races a year to assist other tracks and then a couple of times a year for meetings. Also, when I worked for NASCAR, I typically helped pre-promotion of an event so I wasn’t always around to see how those efforts went. Now, I see the efforts of our staff not only on a daily basis but in the results we get on a race weekend. The similarities aren’t that great but both at the Speedway and NASCAR, I was promoting a product/facility as opposed to an individual driver or series.
Me: So it seems to me that if you don’t enjoy traveling for work, this is not the right career path for you! Now, auto racing is an industry in high demand, in which several recent graduates hope to land a job. When interviewing interns and new job candidates in this industry, what are the top three qualities you look for in an individual?
Kelly: The first thing I look at is how much of a fan is the applicant.
Because of the nature of this position in which I work with drivers and other VIPs on a pretty regular basis, I can’t have the uber race fan working here. I need to know that even if the applicant is a fan, that the person can separate that fandom and be professional. I also look at organizational and multi-tasking skills. I also need someone who is willing to put their ego aside and step in and help the team out. I never ask anyone who works for me to do something I wouldn’t do myself. If the applicant isn’t willing to do even the small things, they won’t work here.
Me: I had a behind-the-scenes look at the auto racing industry at Watkins Glen International this June and I have to say, it looked like a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. What is your favorite part of your job?
Kelly: This is a tough one. I’ve gotten to do some really cool things through this job and met some amazing people. I really like the interaction with people, both good and bad. The good reminds you of how great people can be and with the bad, you learn not to take things personally. The bad can also keep you on your toes!
Me: And last but not least, which is your favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup series race to watch and why?
Kelly: Kansas, of course! All kidding aside, I’m not sure if I can pick just one. I enjoy watching Daytona and Talladega to see what strategy a team will employ. The short track races provide some much action, with a lot of tempers flaring. The intermediate tracks allow to appreciate the precision of the pit crews and the strategy. Road Courses are just so unique.
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By Noah Smith
A little morbid: but don’t forget we have one life, so live it up sometimes. It’s not all about work.
This month has been a whirlwind of work and well, more work. With four or five jobs, I’ve been working morning ’til night on one thing or another. I knew I had to stop and do something fun before I hit empty–which most likely happened a week ago.
I was out distributing some flyers for a job. What ‘s better than swinging by Christopher Elbow Chocolates to check out the latest batch of flavors and talk to the people there? It’s pretty fun to check out the flavors, chat with the people behind the counters and get an awesome piece of chocolate. I had the Tequila Lime, which was really good. Small bit of tequila then solid lemon–and I had a nice chat with the person who checked me out. There’s something about talking to someone who you don’t converse with everyday. Let it be the power of conversation.
A few days later I had to drop off some postcards at Murray’s Ice Cream shop. I naturally had to go on a Thursday and since I was there, so why not get a little treat on such a hot day. The Strawberry Sorbet and Chocolate Flake Fromage was exactly what I needed to help get me through the week. And yes, for me an excellent snack can make or break a day. I would have had a drink at The Rieger but I considered that day drinking whilst working would not be acceptable.
Remember, it’s the little things that can make a day. Don’t forget that as important as work is, life is more important. Don’t over work yourself and have a bad attitude…shake it out, leave it behind. Get out and live a bit. Trust me, your favorite snack or drink may help you beat the funk.
Also, don’t forget to explore the city you live in. I bet it holds a few secret gems. I’m just starting to uncover Kansas City and I’m looking forward to discovering the side street bars or small hidden eateries.
Follow me on Twitter at @N_Smith7 for some KC travels.
By Bob Martin
Christoph Miller builds things; Nancy Miller attends to detail. Together they fuel a passion embodied in the Heartland’s premiere antiques show – Kansas City Antiques Expo running August 1 & 2 at the KCI Expo Center. Built on Christoph’s years of product knowledge honed by collecting and exhibiting at shows himself, Kansas City Antiques Expo is on a growing curve of popularity, bolstered by Nancy’s impeccable customer service and focused marketing savvy.
Make no mistake, this is not your grandparents’ antique show.
With high-end jewelry, watches, traditional antiques, premiere lamps, chrome and car-related items, the offerings, from Classicism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco to Modernism, attract collectors of all ages and interests. Christoph began building his affinity for collecting and by association his collection, of fine glass when he was a teenager. At the knee of his mother, he wasn’t bashful about visiting antique shows where he started assembling an array of antique salt dips, investing his allowance on the 25-cent keepsakes. The collection, like his grasp of the antique business, grew. By the time he was out of college, he was buying and selling antiques on a regular basis. His collections grew, but his business interests followed a different blueprint. Driving trucks to help pay for his collecting habit, Miller says he “morphed” into the construction industry, eventually starting and managing his own company…which he sold. And to prove his early business success was no fluke, he did it again.
Ultimately, predictably, he refocused on the world of antiques. Even while constructing homes, he was building his collections. It was during his second metamorphosis out of the construction industry back to the collecting game that he met Nancy. She was a Human Resources professional, with a printing and graphic design pedigree. Boasting 10 years of corporate pragmatism, cubicle politics, and a taste for antiquing herself, she had an itch for change.
“We met in July 2008,” she says, “and got married on September 9, 2009.” “It was a Tuesday,” Christoph adds. They both remember the date — the wedding had to be scheduled around travel plans so the pair could attend an antiques show in Indianapolis. “We were introduced by friends,” he remembers. “She was easy to talk to, organized, smart and not afraid to get her hands dirty,” he says. Such was a perfect foundation for someone stepping into a husband’s journey that ventured to and from 30 antique shows a year, nationwide. “I left the corporate world, its security, its benefits and income,” she says. “We declared: We’re going to make this work. We supported each other.”
To this day, that unconditional support makes the business grow. “We’re not afraid to divide and conquer. I work the front of the house – the tickets, security, customer service, and he helps with the expo’s construction and the ongoing relationships with the dealers. Dealers he’s known for years,” Nancy says. Both are quick to extol the importance the dealers play in the Kansas City Antiques Expo’ success.
“Christoph understands the business from their side of the table; his reputation and business sense attracts national and international dealers that not only trade in the finest quality items, but they themselves draw a far-reaching audience with their reputations and offerings.” That’s not to say the Millers rely solely on the dealers to market their shows (the Lee’s Summit, MO, based business has expanded with expos in Indianapolis and allow that they may look at another location in the distant future).
To be sure, the promotional side of traditional expos offers an opportunity for growth and sophistication – in Kansas City and myriad other antiques shows around the country. “There are a couple (of shows) that does a really good job on the promotional side of the business. We are looking at them and adding our own vision. The promotions of our shows are an area where we are investing resources and placing focused efforts,” Christoph says. Both Millers cite intentions to advance the use of social media, the internet and other information platforms as strategies they will bring to Kansas City, building on its already stellar reputation.
It’s high tech meets high touch as the soul of the business still rests in one-on-one relationships; the ability to hold actual antiques and to have them authenticated on the spot. “There’s still too much to be said for placing, cradling a piece in your hand,” Christoph says. “At its core, Kansas City Antiques Expo offers that with so much more.”
Originally launched at the Downtown Kansas City airport in the 1970s, the show migrated to the Overland Park Trade Center where it was produced for decades, until a move in 2013 to its new home at the KCI Expo Center (near the Kansas City airport) was necessary. “It wasn’t our intention to uproot the show from its prior home, but scheduling conflicts forced us out; we already see this move as a huge step forward,” Christoph says. “It’s clean, well-maintained and plenty big for our expected growth,” Nancy adds. The access to transportation, free and ample parking, coupled with affordable hotel rooms are favorably impacting the show’s intended experience – one built on quality and service.
Quality and service: two things the Millers know more than just a little about.
The Kansas City Antiques Expo (formerly the Overland Park Antique Show) is located at the KCI Expo Center, 11750 NW Ambassador, KC, MO. Aug. 1 & 2. Show Hours: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. This show offers quality merchandise including art glass, silver, porcelain, furniture, jewelry and much more. Experts in nearly all aspects of antiques and collectibles will be on hand to discuss their items.
MEDIA WELCOME TO ATTEND THE SHOW. CALL Alex Greenwood at 913.907.4426 for details.