The Elliot Group, founded over 30 years ago and based in Tarrytown, NY, is recognized as one of the premier retained executive search firms in the restaurant and food services industry. Since its inception, the Elliot Group has expanded its search work to include the hospitality, retail, service, and manufacturing sectors. Most recently, the company has added a production division, Elliot Productions. Total Food Service had the opportunity to have a conversation with the Senior Producer of Elliot Productions, Eric Herbst.
What sparked your interest in video production?
I’ve always had a passion for the creative aspects of storytelling and the communication of a person’s unique life experiences through video production. Fortunately, I’ve had many opportunities in the media industry that have allowed me to hone that craft. Most recently, I held a network TV position in Miami that focused on news production. My experiences in the newsroom have provided me with a specific skill set that I am now able to translate into my role at Elliot Productions. For example, working in media, meeting so many different people, the traveling I did and the research I conducted are all transferrable skills and experiences that will allow me to ensure that Elliot Productions truly stands out.
Can you share a quick overview of Elliot Productions? Who was the entrepreneurial/visionary behind the firm?
Alice Elliot founded the Elliot group in her twenties, and since then, it has become the premier boutique executive search firm for the restaurant, hospitality, and lifestyle industries. However, it has now evolved to include a production and consultancy division. In my role as the leader of the production division, I focus on all of the event and video production. At this stage, we have become quite busy. Our production division team is growing rapidly, and we have been approached by many people who want us to do their videos. Considering Elliot’s strong reputation as a leader in the restaurant industry, the addition of production and consultancy divisions is a natural progression.
For years the Elliot Group has had the opportunity to work with many of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs. What are the common characteristics that you see in the successful people that you profile?
In the past, Elliot has had the fortune of working with many of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs. There certainly are some identifiable common characteristics that can be observed in successful people. Above all, I’ve noticed that the entrepreneurs within the industry are determined and tenacious. They are passionate, and truly believe in their visions.
Can you help our readers understand what the role of video should/could be in their social media marketing strategies?
It is important to recognize the impact that social media and YouTube has had on the video production industry. With such a saturated digital landscape, it is absolutely crucial to develop unique and innovative ways to stand out. Video is truly the lifeline of communication, so it is vital to embrace and respond to any changes that affect its role within a company, an industry, and a culture.
You have also inherited a bank of interviews that spans some 20 plus years. Some of the most iconic names in the restaurant business from Jon Luther to Norman Brinker have spoken at Elliot conferences. What are you going to do to make that content available to the industry?
Elliot Productions is currently working to make our content available to the industry as a whole. I am very excited for some of our upcoming announcements. We are going to be hosting several events that will capture the spirit and insight of our incredible library [of archived video]. Within our library, we have exclusive videos that are truly amazing. For example, we have video of the founder of Wendy’s, Dave Thomas and footage of David Overton, the founder of Cheesecake Factory. I’d like to make our expansive archives accessible in order to provide an opportunity for everyone to experience our iconic library of footage.
Talk about the bridge that Elliot has from some of the truly iconic entrepreneurs of the industry to the next generation of what you have coined: “True Treps“?
At Elliot, we’ve coined the term “trep,” and we use it as a nickname for entrepreneurs. All great companies and teams grow from an interesting or clever vision regarding the development of a business. A trep can exist within any industry, at any level. However, a trep must be willing to follow his or her dreams and create something great. A good example of a recent Elliot trep honoree is the founder and CEO of Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants, Tim McEnery. Tim left his career in finance to pursue his passion for food and wine, and he now operates an incredibly fast growing lifestyle company that includes restaurants, wineries, wine tours, retail shops and educational programs.
You have ventured beyond the restaurant industry to find retail Treps. Talk about some of those stories and the lessons learned by their success.
Recently, Elliot has branched out into retail as well. The retail industry has undergone a lot of changes in response to the growing popularity of e-tailers such as Amazon. Now, consumers can buy virtually anything from the comfort of their homes and simply wait for delivery. The retail world has had to adapt to the highly digital lifestyle. Some have gone as far to claim that “retail is dead,” but that isn’t necessarily true. For example, we did a profile on Lauren Singer and Daniel Silverstein, who opened a package free shop in Brooklyn. Consumers who would otherwise shop from the comfort of their homes took an interest in Singer and Silverstein’s concept, and the result was a line that stretched down the block and wrapped around the corner. Today, it is imperative that brick and mortar retailers offer consumers something unique and attractive [whether it’s a concept or a product] that will draw them through the doors and away from their computer screens.
The fact that many retailers are falling victim to the online shopping boom may actually provide an opportunity for restaurants. I believe that landlords may now view restaurants as being more important than ever. Landlords will certainly need to fill the voids left behind by failed retailers, and restaurants seem to be the logical solution. However, in order to remain relevant [and in business], restaurants must maintain interesting content that excites consumers.
Your vision for the growth of Elliot Productions includes the launch of a series of special events. Walk us through what is on the schedule.
In two weeks, we have an event in Austin, Texas where we will be bringing together the current and future leaders of the restaurant retail industry for a night of conversation and networking. In October, we have an event in Washington D.C. that will include 500-600 people. One of the goals of this event is to provide information and job opportunities within the restaurant industry to high school and college students. Additionally, we will be hosting an Elliot alumni party in the New Year. Clearly, we have a lot planned and we are thrilled about all of it.
If one of our readers has a story that they would like to have you consider to be profiled, what’s the next step?
I would love to hear from anyone who is developing something exciting and special. Please feel free to contact me. We’d truly love to connect with anybody who would like to share his or her story.
To learn more about Elliot Productions, visit their website.