Des Hague – Reference Letter from Marc Spencer
To whom it may concern:
Over the past five years it has been my pleasure to have worked with Des Hague. By way of background, I am Dr. Marc Spencer, CEO of Juma Ventures. Juma is a national nonprofit that ensures youth from low-income backgrounds complete higher education. We provide employment in our ballpark social enterprises, financial capability, and educational supportive services to thousands of youth annually.
The success of Juma’s 14 ballpark social enterprises rely on partners like Centerplate to commit to supporting our social and fmancial mandates equally. Before Des’ tenure at Centerplate we struggled to get this level of commitment and were not able to scale our model. In my very first meeting with Des he not only expressed enthusiasm for our mission but committed to helping us scale and achieve greater impact. Des actually challenged us to do more and to do more quicker. Due to his personal commitment we now have projects running in San Francisco, San Diego, New Orleans, and Seattle and are looking to expand further. Juma awarded Des and Centerplate an award in 2013 for Outstanding Champion for Social Enterprise.
I know without the personal commitment from Des that Juma’s expansion would not have been possible and I truly thank Des for helping us make a positive difference in thousands of at-risk low-income youth lives. Des is well regarded in the communities he serves and by his entire workforce.
Marc Spencer, CEO, Juma Ventures
Des Hague – Reference Letter from Brian McMaster
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this on behalf of Des Hague, a man I have come to know for the last six years. Des has been and continues to be an amazing presence in the lives of those with whom he interacts. His generosity, of both spirit and financial contributions to causes, has helped to create an atmosphere with which I am proud to be surrounded. I feel I could go on ad nauseum about the many instances of said generosity and personal qualities of Mr. Hague that I have come to admire. I will cite but a few in this letter to give you my impression of the man.
About two and one half years ago due to certain circumstances I was a personal trainer with a strong following but no longer a place to train my clients. I had spoken with Des about this situation and my fear that the ensuing months of finding and acquiring a space of my own would see some of my clientele dropping off to continue their training without interruption. Without hesitation Des offered up his home, which had a gym for my usage with any of the clients I needed. It was this generous bridge of time that made it possible, for myself and my business partner, to open Inspire Fitness in August of 2012. A facility that has proudly served its community and provided employment to six people. It is my belief that without the help of Mr. Hague we would not have been able to offer the health and wellness we do to those we serve.
Des has also always had time for a kind word and an offer of support for those he comes across. I have personally witnessed a dozen or more instances where he has made the lives of those around him better. When informed of a talented young girl languishing in her employment status he found a position for her within Centerplate and she has been able to excel in both her employment and emotional well being. When another client wanted to start his own business he turned to Des for advice. Des did not only take the time himself to help this man better formulate his ideas and dreams into reality he also reached out to some of his friends to also help. When we began to work to try to assist Help Our Military Heroes, a non-profit that works to buy equipped vans for wounded veterans, Des was first in line to anonymously offer his support. He only wanted to help. He had no use for credit for contributions or tax exemptions. There are many more examples of this behavior from Mr. Des Hague.
The final example of his generosity and kindness deserves to be cited separately. When Des was informed of a man in his early forties who was in the last stages of ALS he looked for ways he could use his resources to help the man and his family. He was informed that the man was a huge New York Yankees fan who now lived in Florida so he could receive care. Des used his connections to get this man and some of his friends and family tickets to see the Yankees play the Tampa Rays. They were not only provided tickets but meal vouchers, jerseys and other items. It allowed this man and his family another moment of peace and happiness in his last year alive.
As you should be able to tell from this letter Mr. Desmond Hague is a man I am proud to call not only my client but my friend. If there are any other things you would like from me on behalf of Mr. Hague I would not hesitate to do all I can to help. I hope this better sheds real light on who Des is as a person.
Des Hague – Reference Letter from William J. Caruso, FFCSI, ISHC
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter as a professional reference for Mr. Des Hague, a friend and business acquaintance of mine for the last six years.
I and my firm are considered one of the leading professional consulting firms in the hospitality industry and my personal practice spans some forty five (45) years and 2400 major projects throughout the world. I can unequivocally say that in all my years in the industry, I have never seen or worked with a more dynamic, energetic and resourceful leader as Mr. Hague. This leadership is evident not only in his managerial and strategic leadership abilities, but also in his unwavering commitment to bettering the lives of others in the many cities, towns and villages he has served across Canada and the United States. His support for the advancement of important public and philanthropic interests has been widely acclaimed by major urban and small town leaders alike, and I know that the clients he has served were thrilled with the active participation he took personally and for Centerplate Corporation, in their needs and objectives, all the way down to the local grass roots level in the communities he and Centerplate assisted. The list of his major philanthropic efforts in communities is endless. In part, they include work in such cities as: Denver, San Francisco, Baltimore, New Orleans, Toronto, Seattle, San Diego, Nashville, New York, Detroit and many others! The net result of the above has been his personal positive impact on the lives of many thousands of people every year!
William J. Caruso, FFCSI, ISHC
President, WILLIAM CARUSO & ASSOCIATES, INC.
Des Hague Reference Letter from Stephen C. Travers
Re: Character Reference for Des Hague
This letter is being written by the undersigned on behalf of Des Hague … We first met at a luncheon and developed a business relationship which grew into a personal friendship wherein his personality demonstrated that he is considerate, caring and empathetic.
I have known Des to be a fine upstanding citizen in his Connecticut Community. Furthermore, Des is committed, loyal and a devoted family man to his wife, a cancer survivor, and their son who as injured with double concussion while playing Basketball. Des has dedicatedly cared for his family is heavily involved in charity work and has established his own Charitable Foundation.
Stephen C. Travers
Des Hague Reference Letter from Arthur McZier
To Whom It May Concern:
By way of reference, I am Art McZier and, for the last decade have had the pleasure of being one of Centerplate’s minority partners in Washington, DC.
For the last six years, I have gotten to know Des Hague on both a professional and personal level. I have to tell you that Des is one of the finest, caring and compassionate people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
From the first day in charge, Des visited the venue and shared with us his belief and vision for the company. Not only has he come through on everything he stated, and this was no easy task, as the company at the time was struggling and rudderless, but he delivered more.
Des immediately went to work on making the local environment better. He committed to the local not for profit agencies and ensured that at risk youth were given a chance to succeed. He championed the second chance program, giving offenders a second chance; and has supported so many local causes the list would be endless.
Speaking as a minority business partner, I have also seen how Des cares for his employees. When the general manager tragically lost his wife, Des was the first to offer assistance and handle the funeral. When the same manager needed extended counseling, Des again stepped in and provided over and above the call of duty support.
In summary, I am proud to work with Des and call him a friend. The thousands of people he helps daily is the true measure of the man.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.
National Business Services Enterprises, Inc.
Des Hague Reference Letter from Howard S. Saffan
Over the past four (4) years, we have had the opportunity to watch Des Hague transform Centerplate into a market leader, a corporation full of energy, dedicated personnel and quality at each level. Prior to Des’ appointment, Centerplate was a company “surviving” in the food and beverage industry. With his high energy and direction, Centerplate has grown into one of the world’s premier food and beverage providers.
Notwithstanding Mr. Hague’s deft management and leadership skills, his unending belief in “giving back” separates him from the pack. Des served as one of the mentors in our formation of Arena Angels, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing underprivileged children, in Bridgeport and surrounding areas, the opportunity to experience live entertainment events. Without Des’ assistance, Arena Angels would not be the success it is today.
Leaders like Des Hague do not come along often. I personally admire and respect his keen business acumen, stellar leadership qualities and of course, his wry sense of humor.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
Very truly yours,
Howard S. Saffan
Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment, LLC
600 Main Street
Harbor Yard, CT 06604
Des Hague Reference Letter from Thomas Scally
To Whom It May Concern:
I met Des Hague in the Spring of 2013, our paths crossed prior and we always acknowledged each other with hellos but didn’t spend any time together. Des was known in town as a high profile CEO of a large corporation with deep and well regarded ties in the community. As stated, without knowing me well Des nevertheless had been gracious enough to let me train with my trainer at his residence while my trainer sourced a property. One weekend I asked him what he was doing as it was good for my wife and I we had a babysitter. That was when Des simply told me he was going to Baltimore. I asked him why as he didn’t immediately offer the reason for going. Des then confidentially informed me that for years he has been helping the inner city kids of Baltimore and that his goal was to eradicate child homelessness for thousands in need. I was so impressed that Des would not just give money but actually give his most valuable resource, his time to help others. Des did not need to do this he wanted to do this. I immediately liked that about him. I know one of his proudest moments was being recognized by the mayor of Baltimore for his efforts and still then he wanted no media recognition. Thousands of children in Baltimore have benefited from his positive actions. Over time and by watching Des I learned how altruistic he really is helping in countless other cities and causes he felt close to especially child and spousal abuse, homelessness and cancer research. I have personally seen Des engage in so many causes over the last few years that I have often wondered how he does it I am proud that he does though but I also know that the financial impact placed on him puts all these future efforts at risk. Society is an even better loser in this.
While Des is a giving man to the community he also is very a personable and caring family man. My wife in December 2013 threw her back out and could not move with out help for a long while. Our first phone call and couple who came and made us dinner brought it to our house and spent time with us was Des and Carol along with their son DJ. I have 2 girls that enjoyed their son and Des so much especially that he played a game of hide and seek with them and they couldn’t find him until clues were given. My girls talk about that today. They all left an impression on us that night.
This is who Des is. Many people are better off today because Des decided to take the initiative and make it so.
Des Hague Reference Letter from Robert Johnson
To whom it may concern:
Three years ago we engaged in a process that transitioned our food and beverage provider to Centerplate. Des Hague was the CEO of Centerplate during this time and led his company through the process every step of the way in a very deliberate and professional way.
The result of this change had been a real cultural shift that is very visible and well received by our clients and partners in the hospitality industry. This was expected. What has been such a pleasant surprise was Mr. Hague’s unhesitant willingness to participate, both personally and professionally, in so many efforts in our community to provide education, training and subsequently employment to so many at risk youth. His leadership role in these efforts will carry forward and benefit our community long into the future.
I know his personality and I know his character and I know how much he has to offer to both the business world and the community in which he works.
Robert Johnson, General Manager, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Des Hague Reference Letter from Jim Mercurio
For close to five years I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Des Hague. I have come to appreciate the many personal & professional qualities he exudes as a leader in the Sports and Entertainment Industry.
Des is known to be dedicated to his craft. He is an innovative, forward thinker with great experience and character. He was instrumental in positioning Centerplate to be at the forefront of culinary excellence in stadiums and areas across the country. In doing so, he has gained the respect of many he has worked with in this industry.
Professionally, Des is driven, but fair. He is motivated, but realistic. He is proactive, but measured. He has always been formidable in business discussions and realistically honest when reaching decisions and compromise.
I consider myself quite fortunate in having developed a strong personal and professional relationship with Des. I have a tremendous amount of respect and personal admiration for his talents and accomplishments, his commitment to excellence and his life-long philanthropic outreach and dedication.
Jim Mercurio, VP of Stadium Operations and General Manager, Levi’s Stadium
Des Hague Reference Letter from Jot Condie
To whom it may concern:
I am the President + CEO of the California Restaurant Association. In this capacity I have had the pleasure of working and getting to know Des Hague over the last six years.
One of the CRA’s important roles is to educate our future culinary students as they embark on a profession in the restaurant world. We developed a program and launched ProStart.
We were looking for business leaders to be involved and this is where Des actually reached and called me to offer assistance. It was an unbelievable gesture and Des went out of his way to make our ProStart program a success . Without his significant financial contributions and countless hours of support, hundreds of students would not have been able to participate in the program. Des has made a real positive impact on our program. He supplied venues for our major events to take place, he provided the food and management talent to help organize and actually participate in the events. Des really put our efforts on the map and made things possible.
Jot Condie, President + CEO of California Restaurant Association
Des Hague Reference Letter from Mark S. Furst
To whom it may concern:
l met Des Hague nearly five years ago – not long after Centerplate won the catering contract for the Baltimore Convention Center. In the years since, I have watched with gratitude as he and Centerplate have become exemplars in Baltimore’s philanthropic community.
As CEO of Centerplate, Mr. Hague immediately demonstrated the company’s commitment to Baltimore by offering to host an inaugural benefit event to support The Journey Home – Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s plan to end homelessness in the City. For an organization and CEO whose operations span many major markets, we are extremely fortunate that this support did not just happen in 2011, but was sustained in each of the succeeding years. In fact, An Evening of Unexpected Delights has become one of the premiere events in Baltimore netting more than $1.5 million dollars for the initiative, including significant annual contributions from Centerplate as presenting sponsor. The event has also served to increase public awareness about the scope of homelessness and the plight of individuals and families caught in its grasp.
Mr. Hague led by personal example, donating very generously to The Journey Home. Over the years, he has donated more than $50,000 of his own funds to support the cause.
Mr. Hague’s commitment to the Baltimore community should be commended. Centerplate Baltimore is involved with numerous other charitable endeavors, including several workforce development programs designed to prepare City youth to enter the workforce well-trained and ready to work. Mr.Hague, in fact, was lauded by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake when she honored Centerplate earlier this year with the Mayor’s Business Recognition Award. The award recognizes businesses that have demonstrated corporate leadership and service in improving the quality of life in Baltimore.
Mr. Hague has been a stalwart supporter of Baltimore, and I am grateful for his leadership, commitment and generosity.
Mark S. Furst, President and CEO at United Way of Central Maryland (www.uwcm.org)
Des Hague Reference Letter from SYF and Tony Spadaccini
To Whom It May Concern:
As a Board of Director member of Stamford Youth Foundation, I am writing this letter on behalf of its over 750 football players and cheerleaders. We are a 100% volunteer not for profit youth organization that is self-funded through registration fees and donations. Our program helps 2nd through 8th grade children in two very important ways. First, our coaches teach the players and cheerleaders the proper method of playing football and cheering in a safe manner. Secondly, the coaches mentor their players in good citizenship, sportsmanship and teamwork, and we are seeing huge positive impacts in these children’s lives.
Des Hague has been and continues to be a very generous dedicated supporter to Stamford Youth Foundation. Over the past four years more than 100 Stamford children have benefitted from his generosity and without his personal financial support and volunteer assistance our foundation would have been unable to scholarship players. We are deeply grateful and appreciative of all he has contributed to the Stamford Youth Foundation programs. I would be remiss if l also did not mention a challenge donation Mr. Hague made to our local hospital, Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital, through the Stamford Paint the Town Pink event. Anytime I requested assistance for the Foundation from Mr. Hague, he has always exceeded our need.
As the former CEO of a major Stamford based corporation, Mr. Hague set the bar for others to follow in serving the community in which he lives. I am confident wherever Des settles he will continue making a positive impact on the community and we will miss him.
SYF Football Director
Des Hague – Reference Letter from Ashton D. Sequeira
To whom it may concern,
I would like to take a few moments of your time to describe, in my words, the remarkable leader and man that Des Hague is.
Des took over the helm of Centerplate approximately five years ago. I had joined the company one year prior. At the time, Centerplate was going through a challenging time, as many companies do. In five short years Des was able to triple our growth and increase jobs by the tens of thousands.
From the moment I first met Des he instantly became a mentor to me, both personally and professionally. I came to know of tragedies that Des experienced in his own personal life. In sharing those experiences with me, Des somehow always found a way to end with how we should be doing good for one another.
Together, Des and I, as he did with all our leaders, set out development goals and promised that if I achieved the goals, I would rise within the organization. True to his word, as he always has been, in less than one year I was promoted. Des set out high expectations for us and the company, but with integrity and with the client and customer in mind. Shortcuts were never accepted or tolerated, and Des made a point to ensure that we were a people first business, both with how we treated our client and customers as well as how we treated our people.
To that extent, under Des’ tenure there were several team recognition programs that were introduced throughout all levels of the company, not just at the executive level. In fact, all 350+ venues were tasked with publicly recognizing and rewarding at least one team member per month per account, as well as several contests and initiatives to reward our team members on a daily basis.
Des would provide the company with a weekly update that went out to all venues and clients within the organization. This was Des’ way of being able to connect with his 45,000+ team members. Very often Des would include in his update a master list of all employees that were promoted within the month. The list was never less than 50 people. Also as part of this update, Des challenged all of us to make a greater impact in our communities. Forever leading by example, Des himself led a charge to eradicate homelessness in the city of Baltimore. It was so successful that Des was recognized publicly by the Baltimore city Mayor.
Des also created the Centerplate Promise, a self funded initiative to give back to the communities that we live in and serve. His commitment and focus was so strong that it rubbed off on all of us, and in 2013 Centerplate Toronto, the market that I serve, was awarded with the Business Excellence Award by the Toronto Board of Trade. What is most notable about this accomplishment is that we were the first multi- national organization to win a local award in the category.
Saying that Des was an outstanding person to work for is an understatement at best, but don’t take my word for it. In a public employee satisfaction website, www.Glassdoor.com, Centerplate received an 84% employee satisfaction rating, over 25% higher that our closest competitor. And in the CEO approval category on the same website, Des himself received a 97% rating! To put that into perspective, our next closest competitors’ CEO rating was 75%.
It’s easy to measure people when things are going well. It’s another thing when the cast of judgment sets in when things are the opposite. That did not occur with Des. I had a few challenging times over the years, and there were times where I did not deliver on the results that I expected for myself. Although I knew that disappointment was in the air, Des did not allow me to hang my head or loath in self pity. Rather, as he did with all of us, he helped me focus on what went wrong and how I could use the experience as a constructive learning study focused on improving and moving forward. This was his attitude with all of us, both publicly and behind closed doors. His character never wavered- level headed, firm but fair, kind and big hearted, and always focused on how he could help us move on. These were the traits that we all grew to love and emulate.
I could go on for pages and pages with sincere examples of the outstanding mentor, ambassador and human being that Des is, but I will end on a personal note:
I recently had a new baby boy. After a week of entering this world, my son was rushed to hospital and was forced to be put on a breathing machine for four days as he could not breathe on his own. I did not report directly to Des, but always had a direct connection to him. This is something that was an honor and privilege and something that I did not abuse or take advantage of. Des came to know of my situation within hours, not by me but I’m guessing through a colleague.
As my wife and I were in the process of rushing to the hospital I received a call and it was Des. I can’t recall the exact words he used but I remember him saying “Ashton your family is the most important thing, take care of them and we will take care of you. Do what you need to do and don’t worry about work”. Each day or two thereafter, seemingly always at the right time, I would receive a text from Des checking in to see how we were doing. Thankfully my son made it through that very difficult time.
A few weeks later, Des hosted a Senior Team meeting at our company headquarters. My flight was delayed and I arrived as the meeting had already begun. As I walked into the room, Des stopped the meeting immediately, got up out of his chair at the head of the table, and came and gave me a hug and asked how the family was doing. This was in front of 25- 30 team members sitting around a table.
For a man who leads a company with over 45,000+ team members, Des’ ability to personally touch each and everyone one of us, directly or indirectly, is an innate characteristic that we all try and duplicate. That said I can speak for many of us who find it hard to live up to the high morale, ethical and professional standards that Des has set for us. Several times a day I catch myself saying “what would Des do in this situation, what would Des think”?
Ashton D. Sequeira
Regional Vice President
Des Hague Reference Letter from Thomas E. Tazbaz
My name is Thomas Tazbaz and I am the Regional Vice President for Centerplate in Louisville, Kentucky. I am writing this letter today on behalf of Des Hague, my former CEO and President. Prior to joining Centerplate in late 2010, I had worked for some of the greatest and most high profile company names in the Hospitality Business: Marriott, Disney, Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Fontainebleau Resorts. I have had a wonderful career in the hospitality business and have worked for many bosses over the past thirty years. However, I can honestly say that not a single CEO or President has been as great as Des Hague. There are many things that make a great leader, but I believe that Des’ greatest attribute is his personal touch and his passion for people.
The first twenty-five years of my hospitality career was spent on the West Coast. When Des and Centerplate approached me to become the VP of the Louisville Region, I was apprehensive. I had never lived anywhere but the West Coast. After speaking with Des for just 30 minutes, I knew that I had met a great leader, a visionary and that the move to Louisville would be right for my family and me. Des truly understands how important family is to me because he holds family in highest regards. Centerplate is a large company with over 350 accounts across the US, Canada and United Kingdom and we have a very family like atmosphere because of his leadership and style.
I have been in Louisville now for a little over four years and Des has visited our region at least two times each year. With over 350 accounts, Des makes it a priority to visit each property annually, sometimes biannually. His visits are not solely to review numbers and visit with clients. Des meets with his managers, supervisors, and team members at all properties to thank them and listen to their concerns and suggestions. This type of business involvement is appreciated on all levels. Des takes his business personal. He travels with his wife, and urges clients to bring their spouses to business dinners in order to establish a more of a personal relationship, than strictly professional. Des makes people feel wanted and included. The passion he exudes is radiating.
His last visit to Louisville was one of his most memorable. He was in town with his wife Carol to meet and have dinner with Rip & Leah Rippetoe, our Partners/ Clients and President/ CEO of The Kentucky State Fair Board, myself and my wife Brooke. The dinner and conversation that evening was fantastic. From the very beginning, it was like six friends sitting together and catching up with one another. That is how Des always makes you feel. I remember Rip saying to me the next day that he loved the passion that Des exudes and that he felt that Des was as special of a person as I had always talked to him about.
The following day Des & Carol had a flight to catch out of Louisville @ 11am. I had asked Des, prior to arriving in Louisville, if he could take just a few minutes, out of his busy morning, and speak to my regional managers/ supervisors at our Tuesday Exec Mtg. To his surprise, there were 30 managers/ supervisors waiting to greet him and Carol that morning in our meeting. I was only expecting Des to give a short 10 min speech to get the team fired up for the busy month we all had coming but what he did next still resonates with me and my team to this day. Des gave a great impromptu speech to the team for about 30 min. 20 minutes longer than I expected, but that was Des. As I was looking at him and reminding him to wrap it up, he closed his motivating speech and Thanked Everyone for all they do for Centerplate and reminded them all that they were the reason our company was so successful. The managers gave Des a rounding applause. As I was thinking to myself “OK, I need to get him and Carol out of here and get them to the airport, they have a fight to catch at 11am.” With my back turned, thinking I was guiding Des & Carol out of the room; Des began speaking one on one, with each manager/ supervisor in the room. It wasn’t like a President walking the line, shaking hands and saying a kind word or two of positive encouragement. It was Des being the great person/ leader and taking a few extra minutes out of his busy schedule to speak with each of them individually. He asked each of them personal questions about themselves and gave personal answers back. To this day, every one of my managers still speaks of that visit and feels like they personally know Des like I know him myself.
Centerplate, like most companies, has a leadership hierarchy. There are general managers, regional vice presidents and senior vice presidents all of which over see more than five different accounts. The reason I mention this is because even though we may have a structured chain of command, Centerplate worked very flat. Any manager could call or receive a personal call from Des. I could contact Des, regardless of time or time zone, and get a response within hours. Des has an open door policy and this was well communicated.
When I started this letter, I spoke about, what I felt, was one of Des’s best attributes—his personal touch. Des shows this in many ways and one way in particular really resonates with me. Every Friday, since the day I started with Centerplate, Des has sent out a personal weekly update to every member in our company. Regardless of his condition or location, every Friday by 5pm this letter was in our inbox. Des always touched on the state of the company, best practices initiated, and feedback from our clients. Des loved making these letters personal. He included names of managers, supervisors, and employees who were responsible for making events successful. This is the personal touch that made employees want to go to work. I have never seen a CEO or President be as dedicated to a program for the employees as Des has been.
Des Hague is a man about integrity, loyalty, accountability, and passion. He loves to celebrate success but does not have a problem admitting failure. I, Thomas Tazbaz, respect Des for all he has accomplished as a business person but more importantly appreciate the true great person that he is. I will be loyal to Des Hague for the rest of my life because Desmond Hague is a great man.
Vice President- Louisville Region