At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. So far, you’ve met Niko SolomosDave DanielsonCheryl BehnkeLindsay Sowter, Taryn Branski, Garret Komatz, and Vivian McConnell. Continuing our series is the sweet Nicoletta Sarris! 

What is your name, title, and department? 

My name is Nicoletta Sarris Wrubel, my title is Fabricator/Artist, and assistant graphic designer. I am a part of the Creative department.

Explain your role at DG. 

My role at DG is constantly evolving, since I am in two departments, but sometimes they go hand in hand. In the graphics department, I assist/support whatever Ryan Nosis needs. In the shop I work with our team to help complete projects.

How long have you worked at DG?

I have been working at DG since July of 2017.

What was the most exciting project you worked on? Why? 

The most exciting project that I have worked on was the Migo’s stage set. Some of the projects we get to work on are with some really cool clients, and it was great to work on something so public. It was also a really big job that involved a lot of people in the shop. I liked working alongside everyone towards the finished product.

What was the most stressful project you worked on? Why? 

Isn’t everyone saying it’s the same as the most exciting? (Laughs) Of course their stage set was the most stressful, mainly because we used new techniques and there were so many parts that it was very time consuming.

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career? 

The best piece of advice that I have received is to never stop learning. Especially working in the creative field, having a wide set of skills is very valuable and useful.

What is your favorite part about working at DG? 

My favorite part about working at DG is the people! Everyone here is so welcoming. I also love that every day here is different which keeps things exciting. And truly, DG itself is amazing, you can’t find very many companies that do what we do!

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to have a fun night out? 

I think it’s impossible to pick only 1 place in Detroit, the city has so much to offer. I do love either going to see a show, or to a gallery, plus you can always find somewhere good to eat not far away.

At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. So far, you’ve met Niko SolomosDave DanielsonCheryl BehnkeLindsay Sowter, Taryn Branski, and Garret Komatz. Continuing our series is the amazing Vivian McConnell! 

What is your name, title, and department? 

My name is Vivian McConnell and I am the Controller in the Finance and Administrative Department.

Explain your role at DG. 

It’s interesting, the more we’ve grown, the more my position has become much more focused! My main function is to manage the finances. I make sure everything is balanced and everything is accounted for. I also handle payroll and HR, negotiating employee benefits and our relationships with our insurance, IT, and utility providers. So, while my duties have narrowed, my job is much more important.

How long have you worked at DG?

25 years – I started in the fall of 1994. Although I’m not the first person to hit 25 years – John Lamb is!

What was the most exciting project you worked on? Why? 

There are so many to choose from after 25 years! One of the most exciting things we did was when the Super Bowl was in Detroit. We did so much stuff during that event. That was really the first big project that was a weeklong undertaking for our crew. We were so busy; at one point I was helping load the trucks! We were pretty small at that point, so if you had two hands, you were helping. But we pulled it off and everyone did a great job. Not only was it an exciting time for the city, it was an exciting time for us!

More recently, something that has been really exciting is branching our business into DG-3D, our creative workshop. It really goes hand-in-hand with what we do. And it’s exciting to watch the process of us buying a machine and investing in a lot of talented people to create this whole new branch of our business. It has worked out quite well – and has brought a completely new level to our business. We’ve always been good, and this gives us way more depth.

What was the most stressful project you worked on? Why? 

Truly, so many things can be stressful and exciting. For me, moving to this new building was stressful. If you look at the depth of our inventory, you realize what an undertaking it is to move it all across town. Also, this building was vacant for a long time so we had to set up all of the utilities and hire people to come in and install new plumbing and there is a LOT of coordination involved with that! We ended up creating a system where we would have jobs complete off site and have the loadout crew take the inventory to the new warehouse. It was stressful to move the staff and the inventory, plus, we got comfortable in the old building! But this building is wonderful and it makes so much sense logistically – even if the initial move was stressful.

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career? 

The best advice I’ve ever received is to enjoy what you do. If you got to work every day and you’re miserable, it isn’t healthy for you or the company. You can still have a bad day, but you really shouldn’t be miserable every day.

What is your favorite part about working at DG? 

It’s the people. We work with so many creative people that do such amazing things. There’s always something new!

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to have a fun night out? 

I’m a volunteer usher at the Fisher Theatre and I love going there. I love seeing plays and musicals. I also love Tigers games and going to Comerica Park in the summer. It’s one of my favorite things.

At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. So far, you’ve met Niko SolomosDave Danielson, Cheryl Behnke, and Lindsay Sowter. Continuing our series is the amazing Taryn Branski. 

What is your name, title, and department?  

My name is Taryn Branski, I work Inside Sales in the Sales department.

Explain your role at Display Group.

I handle inside sales; I also assist clients with whatever they might need. I work with our account executives to provide support on their larger jobs. I also oversee our philanthropic efforts and projects to keep us involved in the community. Additionally, I ensure our office and warehouse is well-stocked with necessary supplies.

How long have you worked at Display Group?

Just over one year.

What is the most exciting event you worked on? Why?

Personally, I have loved the work we have put together for the Forbes Under 30 event at the Masonic this year. I assisted in our initial pitch and outreach to the client and I got to support our team and account executives on putting everything together. This event is a big deal for Display Group as well as Detroit and it is very rewarding to watch it all come together.

What was the most stressful event you worked on? Why?

About a month after I started, the Display Group office hosted a Halloween bash for a client. We have a great space here for events and I can’t wait to host more, but the really tough part was having to clear everything out of our offices and reset our work space. We basically had to create a Halloween Party while still working in the confines of our normal work experience – it was intense!

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career?

The best piece of advice I’ve received is to remember that when you’re listening, it’s important to listen to absorb instead of listening to respond. I have another piece of advice I want to share too! Throughout my career, I have learned how important it is to have patience in all growth, all good things come in time. Truly, as we all move up we have to remember that we are on different paths.

What is your favorite part about working at Display Group?

I can’t choose just one favorite part! I get to work in a really awesome and historical building. I get to work with fantastic people and there are a ton of dogs that visit the office and are a part of our daily routine. It’s also really nice to be able to flex your creative muscle while still doing really impactful work for the city. Every day is different and there’s always something exciting going on and I’m lucky to be a part of it.

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to go on a date with your husband?

One of the first times Rob (editor’s note: Rob also works at DG as a production assistant!) and I came down to Detroit, we visited the RenCen at Christmastime. For me, growing up in Northern Michigan, all of the stories I heard about Detroit were about the fear people had when visiting the city – which is wildly untrue! Seeing the RenCen decorated at Christmastime and seeing a remarkable and beautiful piece of the city was pretty moving for me. Rob and I have been fans of Detroit for a long time — we moved to the city 10 years ago. Now, we really like going downtown and walking around and seeing the growth and change that has been happening since we first moved here.

At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. So far, you’ve met Niko SolomosDave Danielson, Cheryl Behnke, Lindsay Sowter, and Taryn Branski. Continuing our series is the illustrious Garret Komatz.  

What is your name, title, and department?  

My name is Garret Komatz, I am the Operations Support Specialist in the Operations department.

Explain your role at DG.  

I have multiple roles at Display Group! I begin the connection from sales after an order is confirmed to operations. Every single one of our jobs has a folder with key information, and I assist in constructing those. I also reach out to clients before events and connect them to the onsite setup and strike crews. I serve as an assistant to our shop and our accounting team by building shop order calendars and filing purchase orders. There’s a lot of digital data entry and I create our digital schedule for our production staff.

How long have you worked at DG? 

Seven years as of July 5, 2019. (editor’s note: you started July 5th?!)

The fourth of July was a Wednesday and I started on a Thursday during a brownout in the city. I also remember we did a Symphony of Brands event at the DSO my first week and I got to see the extent of what we could do. It’s been overwhelming to see how it has grown significantly since.

What was the most exciting event you worked on? Why?  

Oh boy. I used to work on the sales side before I transferred over to operations. In 2018 there was a two-week stretch when I had to work a series of multiple unrelated events with different vendors and when we played a major part in the implementation of the Junior League of Detroit from concept to design to final product and making sure it succeeded. It was an exciting web of clients, vendors, and the DG leadership team working together. It felt really good and really rewarding to finish it.

What was the most stressful event you worked on? Why?  

The same one!

But honestly, my real answer is the one year I assisted with Jazz Fest in 2017. That is a festival that has a lot of moving parts and a lot of people to make happy. It gets stressful trying to juggle so many different things, but the beautiful thing about that job was that we had a great crew that helped bring it to life and we were stronger because of it. Now, working in the operations side of things, I deal with the back end and this seems like nothing!

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career?  

I think I’ve heard a little bit of everything over the years in terms of advice. For me, I relate most to the concept of “one thing at a time, one day at a time.” It has shown me to really analyze the small details in what I do, and actually, I end up getting more done!

What is your favorite part about working at DG?  

For me it’s a combination of the people and the atmosphere. I get to work in a place where we get to be lighthearted and have great banter with my coworkers and be myself. At the same time, I play a part in some awesome creative concepts while still getting to be around wonderful talented people on a daily basis.

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to have a fun night out?  

There are a few people that this will be a no-brainer for…I am a HUGE soccer fan (and that’s an understatement). Most of the things I do in Detroit revolve around the Members Cup Champions Detroit City Football Club. I can frequently be found at the City Fieldhouse, I occasionally help with bar service and I host trivia there once a week! I go to every home match at Keyworth Stadium and will be found in the Supporter’s Section. And yes, I occasionally travel to see them play.

I also like to go to concerts around the city, my favorite venue is Masonic.

At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. So far, you’ve met Niko Solomos, Dave Danielson, and Cheryl Behnke. Continuing our series is the fantastic Lindsay Sowter.  

 

What is your name, title, and department?

My name is Lindsay Sowter and I am the Operations Manager. I manage our production and warehouse department.

 

 

Explain your role at DG. 

In my role, I am responsible for overseeing our event rental warehouse and event production team. This includes scheduling, improving organizational processes to advance our quality, productivity and efficiency.

How long have you worked at DG?

I have worked at Display Group for two years.

What was the most exciting event you worked on? Why? 

This year! We did a Moroccan-themed prom for Eisenhower High School. It was a great theme that involved colorful drapery and really ornate pieces from our inventory. Not only was the finished product spectacular, I also got to work with two of my favorite clients. Obviously ALL of our clients are our favorites, but anytime you get to work with someone you trust and have a good rapport with, the end result is always fantastic.

 

 

What was the most stressful event you worked on? Why?

Also this year! Having the Detroit PGA tour was great for the city and great for all of us in the event industry. That being said, there was a lot of moving parts with logistics and operations. Also, there was really bad weather to compete with; there was some terrible rainstorms leading up to the opening. But we worked through it and did a great job, and I’m incredibly proud of my team.

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career?

The best piece of advice I’ve received is to earn people’s trust. Whether it’s your boss, coworker, client, or vendor. Once you’ve earned someone’s trust, new opportunities tend to come your way.

What is your favorite part about working at DG? 

For me, my favorite part of working at Display Group is the people. We support each other’s ideas and we work very hard to make things happen.

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to grab a bite to eat? 

I love breakfast, and for me the best breakfast place in Detroit is Lady of the House. Hands down, the BEST pancakes you will ever have.

 

At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. So far, you’ve met Niko Solomos. Now, let’s chat with David Danielson. 

What is your name, title, and department?

My name is David Danielson and I am the Creative Director for DG-3D.

Explain your role at DG. 

In my role at Display Group, I am the manager and creative director of DG-3D which is the custom build shop. For me, I oversee everything that is built.

How long have you worked at DG?

I’ve been an employee for four years.

What was the most exciting project you worked on? Why?

We definitely have a few. One that sticks out is a project we did for Migos at Coachella last year. We built their stage set which was giant versions of their necklaces. Another job was for Google last year for CES. They did a Google Ride and we did several of the pieces for that.

Honestly, we do exciting stuff all of the time. For us, the scope and the timeframe make a job exciting. If a job has a large scope and a short timeframe, it keeps us motivated to create something amazing.

What was the most stressful project you worked on? Why? 

Ha! The same projects as above! The timeframe is always a challenge because we want to create something great and deadlines are always over your head. Another challenge for us is engineering. When we get a job, it’s always the first time someone has built that project, so we have to figure it out from the get-go. If the deadline is tight, we have to make sure something works the first time because sometimes you don’t have time for a second try.

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career? 

Best piece of advice was: not to let the stress get to you; remember, no one is going to die. And sometimes I feel like that, but I have to remember it isn’t like I’m commanding a platoon. If something fails (not that it ever does), we will be alright.

What is your favorite part about working at DG? 

I really like the creative aspect and being able to hire creative people. I also like that we have a place for artists to work and make a living.

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to take in art?

The DIA just because it’s got everything. I like art history and modern art.

At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. So far, you’ve met Niko Solomos. and Dave Danielson. We’ve got a real treat with Cheryl Behnke.  

What is your name, title, and department?

Cheryl Behnke, I am the Design Director and I am a part of the Creative Team.

Explain your role at DG. 

I am the Creative Team leader which encompasses the production shop and the design team. This means I guide the team through all design projects from concept to execution. Another thing I do is bridge the gap between sales and design. We really like to stay current and up to date at DG, so I really make sure that I am keeping up to date with trends for events, design, and (of course) event design!

How long have you worked at DG?

I started with DG in April 2017 so it has been about two and a half years.

What was the most exciting project you worked on? Why?

Definitely Detroit Homecoming 2017 at Michigan Central Station! Pretty quickly after I was hired on, I was handed a confidentiality agreement for a site visit to the train station. It was the first time it was going to be open to the public in 30 years! It was also my first time ever visiting the space so just being able to get a secret preview was fantastic. I remember when I first moved to Detroit how depressing it was to see this iconic jewel of the city to fall into disrepair and it was incredible and overwhelming to be a part of the team to bring the space back to life. I’m really proud of the work we did there and happy to see that Ford has purchased the building and is now renovating it.

What was the most stressful project you worked on? Why? 

Also in 2017! In May 2017, the Display Group office hosted a Drinks x Design event in the showroom and warehouse. I had just started with the company and our President Rick was out of town so all of the planning was left to me and two other people. We needed to get the space together and figure out parking for 600 people – not an easy thing to do when our parking lot doesn’t fit a fraction of that many cars! Pretty much the entire process leading up to it was total chaos and with it happening pretty much within a month of being hired I wasn’t familiar with the inventory or, frankly, anyone else’s names so I basically just ran around the warehouse asking people for help. Luckily and thankfully, everyone had an amazing time and Rick showed up right as it started and was super pleased with the job we turned out – which was great because there were points during the day where I didn’t know if I would have a job the next day! Overall the event was a success, even if it took a lot of worry to get there.

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career? 

I have two! My first is to never be afraid to ask questions. Really, in our business it is always better to know than to guess. It’s always crucial to achieve the client’s goals and not your own. Which leads to my next piece of advice: set aside your personal style. You have to remember you aren’t designing for you, you’re designing for the client and you need to achieve what they’re asking for.

What is your favorite part about working at DG? 

For me, it’s the people. Right from the start I really felt like I could be myself. It’s so important in our field to express your personality and not be afraid to be authentic. I’ve always felt like that here and it’s a huge part of our culture. Everyone here is remarkably welcoming and helpful and that is always comforting when starting somewhere new. I also love that every day here is different which keeps things exciting. This is not a place where things get monotonous or dull and that always makes it fun to go through your day and week not knowing what direction things will take you.

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to take in art?

I met my significant other Marq while working here and we love to go to concerts in the city. Our favorite venues are St Andrews and the Fillmore because they are much more personal for us in the audience. You really feel like you’re close to the artist and it’s great to have that intimate experience with them. It’s also nice to have these venues right in the city with so much around which means we have plenty of options for drinks and food.

However, we are expecting our first child! It looks like the concerts may have to be tabled for a bit while we put together the nursery.

At Display Group, we are fortunate to have some of the best employees around. Introducing our All in the DG Family Series where we hope you’ll learn a little bit about the team. First up, Niko Solomos.

What is your name, title, and department?

My name is Niko Solomos, I am the Sales & Marketing Manager and I’m in the Sales Department.

Explain your role at DG.

I have a few roles at DG but my main one is to manage our sales team and keep them focused on goals. What’s important to me as a manager is keeping them motivated and inspired and I want them to feel that we are the best at what we do. A lot of times in sales, we focus too much on the day to day and lose sight of the big picture.

As for managing marketing, it’s about focusing on properly representing who we are. I will say, this is a cool company, we do cool things, and we want everyone to see who we are. We don’t want people to wonder what we do; we want to make our story perfectly clear.

How long have you worked at DG?

I have worked with DG just over 5 years. I started when my oldest daughter was 4 weeks old and now, she is about to start Kindergarten.

What is the most exciting event you worked on? Why?

Definitely CES in 2019. It was one of the largest projects I’ve ever been involved in, it was very complicated with a crazy timeline and I have never personally witnessed that madness. It was insane to see hundreds of super talented people working on top of each other with a deadline that will NOT move – the doors to CES open when they open! It was crazy, we worked until midnight two of the nights and it was all hands-on deck.

What is the most stressful event you worked on? Why?

(Laughs) – the same one!

But truthfully, we did work for two years in a row at the Auto Show for a client that wanted between 40 and 60 auto parts displayed. It was a job that involved a lot of detail because every part is unique, and every part must be displayed just right. This was a job that was very tight to the deadline – but that’s our business and I love it!

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career?

One that has stuck with me the most came from my boss at my last job. He told me “You have my permission to do whatever the client needs you to do” This taught me that at times I would be asking for forgiveness as opposed to permission, but many times that is the best route.

These values have translated into how I manage at DG. I try to tell my team to Do Whatever it Takes and Never Say No. We have really made that our approach in collaborating with clients.

What is your favorite part about working at DG?

I have two favorite parts! The first, I love the people here. We have talented people, kind people, humble people. We have people that think differently than I do, and I get to learn from them all the time. These people have taught me a lot!

The second, I love the diversity of what we do. Truly, no two days are the same. It never feels like Groundhog’s Day here!

Where is your favorite place in Detroit to take your kids? Take your wife on a date?

My favorite place to take my kids is here to DG. It makes me so proud for them to see what their Daddy does. I love being a dad. My kids are my world.

My favorite place to take my wife on a date is Grey Ghost. That is our go-to for date night. We love food and drinks and restaurants and Detroit has a great scene for those right now.