But when Executive Project Director Russ Dagon sought a team of architects, designers, and suppliers to execute Universal Creative’s vision, he decided the retro theme should only go so far. He wanted 21st-century perspectives from a talented team of diverse professionals to go with the vintage look.
Amount spent with diverse Tier I suppliers, representing 17% of our total applicable procurement spending
"It’s really easy to get into a room with like-minded people from similar backgrounds and turn out something fast," Russ says. "But it’s when you work with people from diverse backgrounds that things get interesting. People start to challenge you and each other, and you often wind up with a better product in the end."
And a better product he received.
Universal chose Daroff Design in Philadelphia as the lead interior designer because of founder Karen Daroff's strong vision for the project and her 26-year relationship as a design partner with Comcast NBCUniversal. Karen and her talented team, in turn, helped Russ staff the project with a varied network of designers and contractors, including a number of women- and minority-owned firms.
"We made a conscious effort to create diverse teams," Karen says. "Talent, capabilities, and work ethic obviously came first, but we also put a high value on inclusiveness with Cabana Bay."
Russ says diversity pays off in countless ways. "It's often as simple as saying, 'Well, I'd use this room differently,'" he explains. "We spend a great deal of effort assuring that our guest rooms have sufficient lighting for applying make-up. This is something that a lot of men don’t even know can be an issue."
Considering different cultural preferences also helps in suite design, adds Russ. "I've had my eyes opened many times working on projects with people of different races and religious beliefs. Many cultures travel with extended families, and we have to be ready to accommodate them."
The resort, as Russ likes to say, looks "like the early, happy seasons of Mad Men."
Working with diverse suppliers on projects like Cabana Bay has long been a win-win scenario for Comcast NBCUniversal. We benefit from new ideas and fresh approaches, and suppliers receive exposure to new clients and opportunities. In 2014, we spent 17% of our supplier budget on projects with women- or minority-owned businesses.
Hilary Wainer worked for CD+M Lighting Design Group, the lead lighting consultant for Cabana Bay that brought in such inspirations as the atomic chandeliers and ceiling installations in the lobbies and restaurants. She has since gone on to create her own lighting firm, Lux Et Veritas Design, and is working with us on our newest hotel project — the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando.
Russ says it’s important for Comcast NBCUniversal to help suppliers that need a foot in the door.
"Many times up-and-coming suppliers haven’t worked with national or high-profile clients, but they may have excelled on smaller local projects," he says. "We can not only give them opportunities, but we can also mentor them and even stretch their capabilities."
The results speak for themselves, Karen says.
"It’s so important to extend these types of opportunities to women- and minority-owned firms, as Comcast did with us many years ago," she says. "You can see the value throughout the company. From the Comcast corporate headquarters to the wonderful resort hotels created by Universal, the quality and variety is outstanding. Obviously our commitment to diversity is working."
Learn more about our support of supplier diversity.