Kevin Mazzone’s customer service experience as a retail sales clerk helped him land a job that became his career.
It was January 2007, when he was working at Holt Renfrew in Pacific Centre, and a regular customer, entrepreneur Susan Mendelson, came in and asked if he knew of anyone who might be interested in being her assistant at her catering company, Lazy Gourmet.
Mazzone knew little about catering but had built a bond with Mendelson, so he told her that he wanted the job.
He proved himself in the subsequent years, managing relationships with clients and staff, and, as Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic Games approached, he was promoted to general manager.
Business surged during the Olympics, and Mazzone oversaw about $1 million worth of business in a 17-day stretch.
“The Games cemented my passion for catering and events,” he said. “It wasn’t just about the food anymore. It was about creating experiences for guests.”
Annual sales have more than tripled to about $9 million in 2017, and Mazzone became an equity partner in the venture earlier this year.
Significant increases in business have come from getting contracts with first Simon Fraser University (SFU) and later University of British Columbia (UBC) for catering in those institutions’ downtown campuses. The contracts involve not only internal catering but also preparation of food for outside companies that book space at SFU or UBC facilities, Mazzone explained.
Outside work, Mazzone has been active as a volunteer at the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation since 2012, when he first started organizing that organization’s annual Passions galas, which have raised more than $500,000.
He also helped launch an annual cocktail kickoff event for the Vancouver Pride Festival in 2014 – an event that has so far raised more than $85,000 for the Dr. Peter foundation. Other charitable work has been for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and A Loving Spoonful.
“One of my favourite things about Lazy Gourmet is that we employ a lot of people and we’ve been growing the company,” Mazzone said. “We used to work with 30 people closely in 2010 and now we have almost 140 people.”
Where you live now: Yaletown, Vancouver
Highest level of education: BA, professional communication, Royal Roads University
Currently reading:Christy Clark: Behind the Smile by Judi Tyabji
Currently listening to: “Line of Sight,” Odesza
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: A lawyer like my father
Profession you would most like to try: Private collection art curator
Toughest business or professional decision: To give up a significant piece of business (more than $1 million) so we could regain focus and plan for future growth
Advice you would give the younger you: Anything is possible with the right team
What’s left to do: As much as I possibly can
Join us to celebrate the 2017 Forty under 40 Awards on January 23, 2018, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit http://www.biv.com/events/40under40