“A passion for incentive travel, with a focus on the details”
When Dana Weaver, CIS, GROWMARK’s Senior Manager of Marketing Services, first took over responsibility of his company’s incentive travel programs over 10 years ago, the first thing he did was meet with senior executives to ensure he had their buy-in and support for the programs.
GROWMARK, a $7.3 Billion regional agricultural supply and grain cooperative, will celebrate its 91st Anniversary in March 2018. In 66 of its 91 years, the company has operated incentive travel programs to recognize and reward salespeople and member cooperative management for achieving their annual sales goals.
“Our incentive programs are ingrained in our company culture. The C-suite is strongly behind the programs, and understands their value to the company. They do not necessarily focus on return on investment, but more on how the programs help strengthen relationships and loyalty with employees and cooperative members. We attribute the success of our programs to increases in participation. We don’t just consider GROWMARK’s overall growth, but more importantly ask ourselves the question “Did our member cooperatives have an equally successful year?”
Dana has been with GROWMARK for over 40 years, holding a variety of management and marketing positions. In addition to managing the incentive programs, he is also responsible for the company’s Strategic Meeting Management initiative and sales administration. Although he had been involved with planning meetings and events for some time, after taking on responsibility for the incentive programs he felt he needed to gain a better understanding of what it takes to create an incentive program that is meaningful, memorable, and motivational.
He first learned about SITE from a third party incentive company who recommended he look into joining a local chapter. Soon after he attended IMEX Frankfurt in 2012. “I attended SITE NITE Europe and learned more about SITE and its mission and determined that this was an organization that would benefit both GROWMARK and me.”
One of the first Corporate Planners to earn the Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) designation, Dana traveled all the way to Warsaw, Poland to take the course in March 2013. “The course helped me realize what I didn’t know about designing incentive programs. Passing the test and earning the credential gave me much more confidence in my role.” One year later, Dana became a CIS facilitator.
“You can’t just talk the talk, you must walk the talk. During the development stage of our incentive programs, I find myself saying, “let’s practice what we preach.” I am blessed to work with colleague Cathy Hanes, CIS, who helps apply what she learned in the CIS course, SITE events, and other industry events to make our programs motivational and memorable.”
Dana knew that to get the most out of his membership in SITE he needed to get actively involved. He joined SITE Chicago and served as the chapter’s board Treasurer in 2014. The following year, he was elected chapter president, a position he held for two terms.
“When I first joined SITE Chicago the chapter was struggling. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our board members and strong leadership from people like Patricia Perez-Sahin and Rebecca Wright, we were able to quickly turn the chapter around. It was a true team effort and I am so proud that SITE Chicago was recognized as Chapter of the Year for 2017. It’s not bragging rights for the board, but more of a testament of faith by all members and sponsors who supported SITE Chicago during the rebuilding and redefining years.”
Recognizing Dana’s contributions to SITE, he was invited to join the SITE Foundation Board of Trustees in 2018 - one of the few Corporate Planners that has served as a Trustee or board member. “I have learned so much from my experiences with SITE and, as a Corporate Planner I hope to be able to bring a unique perspective to the work of the Foundation.”
He also hopes to influence more Corporate Planners to join SITE. “SITE offers tremendous resources for Corporate Planners to gain valuable insights and a broader perspective of the business. Not only does it offer professional development through education and research, it is also an excellent resource for networking and learning from incentive travel experts from around the world.”
Best advice? “It is not who you know, but who knows you. I often joke your reputation arrives before you do; make sure it’s a positive, favorable reputation. Every interaction is an interview for your next piece of business or next job.