Erik Covitz '87
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What is your edge (strength)?
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
I learned a lot about being a leader at Hofstra, as part of the Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) fraternity, and as captain of the Hofstra ice hockey team. As a leader, you learn how to avoid overreacting, treat people with respect, make educated and deliberate decisions, and influence people. It also helped me a great deal in learning how to manage my time -- I had to in order to balance my school work and my extracurricular activities, since I also worked at the Bookstore and wrote for The Chronicle!
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What was your major?
What was your favorite class?
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I used to love Homecoming, particularly building the floats. Working on planning and building the Homecoming floats with all the Greek and student organizations really promoted collegiality and bonding, and I really enjoyed it.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Efficiency of processes. I like to look at things and figure out how they can be done better -- more quickly, more cost effectively, and with high quality. In the printing industry, everything has a deadline -- and working up against those deadlines forces you to think hard about efficiency.
Who in your field do you most admire?
Fred Rosen, founder of Ticketmaster. He saw that technology was going to affect ticket purchase and exchange and was visionary about how to make the process faster, easier, and more seamless.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job was selling tickets for the company Ticketcraft (now Worldwide TicketCraft in Merrick and Florida), then based in Bellmore, here on Long Island. When Black Monday hit in the fall of '87, as a finance major, I decided to go into sales rather than pursue a career in banking. What I learned in sales was how to work as part of a team; if there are problems with a product, you have to take ownership of it and not blame or place yourself above the team. I learned how to handle crisis situations and turn negatives into positives.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Believe in yourself and don't be afraid to take a chance.
How do you balance work and life?
I always try to make sure I am home in the evenings to spend time with my wife and kids. I always make sure to take family vacations where work is completely and utterly "put aside" for that week. I try to remember, always, that the work will still be there in the morning!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
At that point I will have been part of the industry for 30 years so, hopefully, I will be retiring from the ticketing business. I would like to continue working with Rotary or a children's charity to help make better lives for kids and their families.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Having the ability to purchase the first company I started my career with, and establishing a successful business that helps many employees provide for themselves and their families. My employees count on this work to help them fulfill their dreams, and I take a great deal of care to help ensure that they do, while still running a successful and solvent business.
What is the best strategy for students who desire to start their own businesses somewhere down the road?
I suggest doing your "homework." Work for a company that is in the industry you want to have your business in first. See what other companies are already doing, and see if you like the business, and see if you can do it better/faster/cheaper than others in that industry. The biggest thing I've learned is that you won't be successful unless you love what you do; so be sure you are passionate about your business!
What is the most high-profile event your company has worked with, and what were some of the particular challenges of working with this event?
The Arnold Palmer Bayhill Golf Classic, in March 2008 in Orlando, Florida. This event required the creation of a "print at home" technology -- and this event was the first time we ever utilized this technology on such a grand scale. The logistics of the event necessitated the scanning of barcodes at a very large, outdoor golf course, and we had to make sure our systems could pick up counterfeit tickets. In addition, there was a whole other level of ticketing we needed to work with to ensure people with VIP access could get into different parts of the golf course and grounds than the general ticket holders. This was challenging logistically, but came together beautifully in the end.
Who are your typical clientele? What is the greatest selling point of Worldwide TicketCraft?
Our clientele tend to be college and professional theaters, sports teams, art and science museums, movie cinemas, theme parks, water parks, ski resorts, national park service sites, presidential libraries, and special events like golf/tennis opens, which require a sophisticated ticketing system. Our greatest selling point is our level of customer service -- our sales philosophy is to be a "solution provider" to the ticketing needs of our customers.
How would you advise current business students who want to break into an events-centered industry?
Volunteer or intern during the breaks for event management companies in the areas of planning and setup. Event management is not the same as being a participant -- you are creating an experience for the customer, and you must ensure you are providing the value they expect for the event. Good event managers take care to look at the whole experience, from admission to close.