NFIB/TEXAS MEMBER OF THE MONTH | APRIL 2016

Date: April 18, 2016 Last Edit: April 20, 2016

April Showers are in full swing especially right now in our great state of Texas, but come rain or shine our April Member of the Month pulls off one-of-a-kind, full-service, award-winning events around the clock. 
Meet Laurie Sprouse, Co-Founder and President of Ultimate Ventures (UV) in Addison, Texas.

UV, is a well-established destination management/event planning company for the Dallas/Fort Worth area. At UV you will find destination experts who are passionate about bringing the best of Dallas/Fort Worth to life for the customer experience. The UV team assists meeting professionals with a full range of services including special events, team-building, group excursions, and transportation logistics. 

Sprouse met her business partner, Val Lennington, at Semester at Sea in 1991. They were both so moved by the experience that during this time the two talked about one day starting their very own event company to take groups all over the world to see what they had seen. They loved traveling and it seemed like the perfect “venture” for them, but first they needed to pay off their semester at sea and school, so they shook on it. Two years later, in 1993, they started Wild West Adventures and instead of traveling the world, they focused on the Dallas area where they lived. In 1997, they changed their name to Ultimate Ventures and today UV employs 19 full-time and 75+ part-time professionals, was North Texas’ first accredited Destination Management Companies (DMC) and is frequently recognized as a Top 25 DMC worldwide by Special Events magazine.

Sprouse joined NFIB in 2008. In 2007, Sprouse discovered that her industry would be harmfully affected by the new Margins Tax law and ongoing struggles with the sales tax. In 2008, she learned about NFIB when she needed help with state legislation that was needed to help protect her industry and business. She knew nothing about the legislative process and NFIB supported, guided and advised her through the process. In 2009, Sprouse’s hard work and efforts by all involved paid off and legislation was passed into law saving her industry thousands of dollars annually in taxes to the state. It was a great win for her small business and other small businesses in her industry. 
Sprouse is a fighter. In 2009, she led her small business through the recession which she describes as a very painful and scary time. During this period, meetings were under attack, it was all about optics. Meetings and events were viewed as frivolous, irresponsible and/or unnecessary expenses. UV lost 75% of its business, but Sprouse said she sucked it up, borrowed money and prayed a lot. She never laid off anyone during that time. Sprouse made it through this tough time but she knows there will be others. If she could tell the Texas Legislature one thing that would help her small business, she would ask them to not only weigh the social aspect of laws they pass but to also weigh the business aspect of those laws. She would caution them on being short-sided and ask them to always weigh both sides of the equation.
   
Sprouse says the best thing about owning a small business is being able to surround yourself with good people and getting to create a positive culture that everyone on her team can enjoy working in. She apparently has done just that. The Dallas Business Journal named UV, “The Best Place to Work” in 2010. Sprouse and her team work with 150 clients a year, putting on multiple events for some of those clients. Sprouse’s favorite events are charity events and team building events. In fact, UV’s teambuilding program, “Camp WannaHavaFunna” was just Named Best Teambuilding Program at the 2016 Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) Annual Awards this past March.

This year as in previous years UV is busy planning multiple events and special occasions for their groups and corporate clients, but this year is extra special because they are also celebrating their very own 20 year anniversary. Congratulations Ultimate Ventures on your success! We know we can continue to expect great things from you. In fact, in June, Sprouse will take the time away from running her small business and travel to DC to join other NFIB members from all over the U.S. to help voice the concerns of small business. Thanks for being an NFIB member and fighting the good fight for other small businesses in Texas.

Related Content: News | Management | NFIB Member Featured | Texas

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