Brian Avery has worked in the service industry since he was a youngster – all the way back to his first job at the former Boardwalk & Baseball theme park near Haines City when he was 14 and “the cotton candy was in my blood.”
So it was a natural extension for the UCF graduate and teaching assistant to start an events-staffing company using his two decades of service experience – and sharing what he has learned with students he hires from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
Avery has worked at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and other attractions and events companies, and has studied what it takes to please visitors and bring them back.
“You need to customize the experience. It’s in the details,” Avery said. “Create an experience that shows you care about the details and minutiae.”
Avery, who is working on his Ph.D. in Education/Hospitality Education at Rosen, started Frontline Event Staffing last year to staff corporate and hospitality events in Central Florida. Of the company’s 150 employees, about 90 of the part-timers are Rosen students
“We’re a service-based and driven economy, and UCF does an amazing job preparing students for the workplace,” he said.
Rosen Dean Abe Pizam said Avery’s business model of staffing largely with Rosen students is “quite unique and interesting,” and Paul Rompf, an associate professor and director of graduate studies, said so many Rosen students are hired because Avery “believes they make a more informed, dedicated staff member.”
Avery has a long background with the university.
He has a Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Rosen, a post-Baccalaureate Graduate Certificate in Industrial Engineering, and has been a graduate teaching assistant since 2010. He was an adjunct professor from 2008-2010 and a graduate research assistant a couple years before that. He also has a background in safety and risk management, and has authored four safety manuals for the events and attractions industry.
Avery said that when he was a student, he learned that applying the academics to a workplace environment went hand-in-hand, and he hopes Frontline can provide that same opportunity for UCF students who gain experience in registration and admissions, catering, concessions, ushering, promotions and other fields.
“The goal is to provide them with different opportunities” at trade shows, conventions, outdoor music concerts and other events, he said. “They have to have a firm understanding of the job and they have to provide exceptional service. If you’re not seen as a professional in this industry, you won’t go very far.”
He said some of the student employees have even received full-time employment as a result of working with his company.
“Rosen College is not just a place for seeking a job,” he said. “It is for seeking a career opportunity.”