Mary Ann Romano and Teresa Kelly, partners in Hamiltonbased Simple Creations, are the Laverne and Shirley of corporate team-building. These two finish each other’s sentences and have Tasmanian devil-like levels of energy. “We’ve been told we should have our own TV show,” says Romano. “But we’re never scripted. We just do what we do.”
What do they do? “We design customized team-building events. These aren’t cookie-cutter,” says Kelly. It all began over 12 years ago when Kelly and Romano met at a preschool playground. Kelly, a marketing food technologist, started talking with Romano, a marketing professional, and within two weeks, the two formed their LLC. They began offering in-home cooking classes and quickly transitioned to corporate events, which now constitute 98 percent of their business. They’ve been a preferred vendor of Johnson & Johnson for 10 years, and count other leading pharmaceuticals, universities, Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits among their clients. The two are even crafting an upcoming corporate retreat for the United Nations.
One of the reasons for their success is their belief in truly understanding the client’s needs. Their team-building events aren’t one-size-fits-all. “We meet with them to learn what they need to accomplish and understand who is on their team,” explains Kelly. Afterward, they design a program to fit the client’s goals, whether it’s improved communication or conflict resolution. “We are kind of like super sleuths, figuring out what’s wrong,” says Romano.
From cooking events to communityminded activities, Romano and Kelly believe in 100-percent participation. “We love when we show up and there are grumbles,” says Romano. “Within five minutes, there is a totally different energy and everyone’s participating and having fun.”
After every event, these two pinch themselves. “We pride ourselves on bringing people together,” says Romano. “You have to focus on team enhancement and can’t expect it to just happen. We provide the skills and tools to encourage it.”