GRAPEVINE, TX — When SilverEdge Systems President Maria Vedral takes her clients out on the town each year during the annual Deltek Insight conventions, it’s no low-energy, hob nob, suit-and-tie dinner.
No, it’s a full-blown, let’s-get-together, have fun, and get-to-know-each-other-better affair that usually includes exotic drinks, great local chow, and some kind of unanticipated energy-sharing experience.
Her past events have included a barbecue dinner after an evening of racing Indy-type speedway go-carts in Orlando, FL. Another time, it was a Southern dinner and group singing at the Big Bang Dueling Piano bar in the Honky Tonk district of downtown Nashville.
And, on still another occasion, Maria’s clients were entertained with dinner and music while riding in a historic paddleboat back and forth along the Potomac River in the shadows of the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials in Washington, D.C.
This year was no different.
A large group of Maria’s clients — totaling just over 100 — boarded two buses at the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort here and sped away to nearby downtown Dallas for an evening of drinking and dining at a variety of popular hotspots.
The first stop was at Stirr, a renovated industrial building-turned-nightclub in the Deep Ellum district. Upon entering, clients chuckled as they studied a message stenciled on the staircase facing. It read: “You have to take the stairs to Heaven. There is no elevator.”
Four flights of stairs later, clients quickly understood the message as they were immediately taken aback by the stunning view of the open-air rooftop bar that opened magnificently upon the Dallas skyline. As clients buzzed about the view, they were served a choice of two Stirr “house” favorites — a Rose Rita (Avion Silver Tequilla, Bijou Rose, lemon juice, St. Germain liqueur, strawberry puree, and strawberries) or a Sweet Escape (Effen Cucumber Vodka, St. Germain liqueur, lemon juice, cucumbers, mint, and champagne).
Clients could be heard saying: “Oh, my, what a view!” “This is awesome!” “Incredible!”
For those who had taken part in previous client events — like Dean Landes, who was on his ninth outing with Maria, their reactions were predictably positive.
“This is great. I always enjoy them,” said Landes, Systems Administrator with Butler, Fairman, and Seufert, Inc. of Indianapolis, IN.
For those who were on their first sojourn with Maria, you could say they were blown away.
“This is my first time,” said Kimberly D’Amato, Marketing Manager for Applied Technologies located in the greater Milwaukee area. “I hope to do this again … as long as I get a pass. They’re fantastic.”
But, this was just the beginning of the evening.
After about 45 minutes at Stirr, the clients were shepherded back onto their buses. The convoy then sped across town, coming to a stop at Dealey Plaza near the intersection of Elm Street and Houston Street. Tour guides on each bus pointed out the nearby Texas Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot and assassinated President John F. Kennedy in November, 1963.
After a few minutes of discussing the area and its historic significance, the buses split up and headed to two different nearby restaurants. One bus took half the clients to RJ Mexican Cuisine in the historic West End of downtown Dallas. The other bus took its riders to 3Eleven Kitchen and Cocktails, another trendy restaurant a few blocks away, also in the West End.
At RJ’s, clients were treated to tortilla chips and homemade salsa, chicken fajitas, Mexican beers and house margaritas.
At 3Eleven, clients were serviced beef tenderloin sliders, seasonal vegetables, and a spud flight of French fries.
After dinner the buses reloaded and headed to Vidorra Cocina de Mexico, another nearby eating establishment that specializes in mouth-watering desserts. The after-dinner offering this night was the Churro Stack, a tasty treat involving a warm cinnamon sugar churro, coconut white chocolate, spicy coconut, and mango sauce.
Before getting back on the buses for the 30-minute return ride to the Gaylord Texan Hotel, clients took a few moments to express what they appreciated most about Maria and her SiverEdge staff.
“I like how much she cares about her clients. (SilverEdge) is the catalyst to help solve problems. (Maria) is such a happy partner with a great laugh that is infectious. She’s a very caring woman,” said Karen Freeman, Director of Finance, with Harris & Associates of Concord, CA.
“(Maria) is kind, knowledgeable, and helpful. (She and her staff) go out of their way to help,” added Kimberly D’Amato, Marketing Manager with Applied Technologies.
“(SilverEdge) gives you expert service but also can be a friend. They don’t see you as a number but as a life-long partner. I admire their expertise and quality and they give it to you straight. (Maria) is a fun-loving owner that really cares about the client and their success,” said Melissa Clark, Controller with Primera Engineers LTD, of Chicago.
“(SilverEdge) is always willing to work with us and meet our needs. They listen to us and figure out what we need. (Maria) is happy, funny, laughing, enthusiastic and passionate about what she does,” said Pat Yedlicka, Senior Accounting Manager with the Farnsworth Group, Inc., of St. Louis, MO.
“When I think of SilverEdge, I think good support. I really like working with Deb (Eastberg) and Dennis (McGuire). I just met Maria for the first time. She appears to have an ethical company which is the way we do business,” said Brian Converse, the President/General Manager with Willett, Hofmann & Associates, Inc., of Dixon, IL.
“SilverEdge is experienced, confident, accessible. As a friend, I have known Maria eight years. We have a golf tournament in Seattle for charity. It raises about $50,000 to $60,000. She’s a sponsor and comes out to the tournament. We have a really good time,” said Richard Borbe, an Associate with D’Amato, Conversano, Inc., of Seattle.
“(Maria) is a very good friend, loyal. She’s a friend for the ages. She (and her staff) really take care of the clients,” said Kristin Burke, CFO with Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., of Chicago.
“SilverEdge is a business partner. We couldn’t do what we do without Adam (Sitterding), Deb (Eastberg) and Tiffany (Morrow),” said Tim Cretney, CFO with Draper Aden Associates, of Blackburg, VA. “These kind of people are so rare. We dream up things and they make it happen. Everything in Deltek we dreamed up is coming true.”
For the record, Draper Aden Associates was a Deltek MVP Award Finalist and the winner of the 2018 SilverEdge Project Excellence Award. Other SilverEdge Project Excellence Award finalists were: GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.; Applied Technologies; and Klein & Hoffman.
Looking back upon the evening, Vedral said:
“One of my mantras is that I will only give you a gift that I would want for myself. So that entails creating a client experience that exceeds my expectations for an awesome time! We put great care into planning to ensure that we include all of the facets of experience according to Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore’s Experience Economy framework. Each experience must be educational, aesthetically pleasing, escapist and entertaining. The journey includes how clients are invited, how clients enter, engage, exit and how we extend the experience. All equally important! We want our clients to feel the love! It gives us great pleasure!”