Steve Peters often recalls a line from the works of Steven Covey: “Successful people are managed by the compass not the clock.”             That line inspired him to name his private management firm Compass Facility Management, and became a philosophy that has driven his business into the success it is today. Venuworks now has management and consulting accounts in 15 cities, including the three newest, the Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center at Chicago State University, the Burnsville (Minn.) Performing Arts Center, which is in the planning stages, and the Central Iowa Expo, an outdoor venue to be built near Ames, Iowa, that will be the biennial host of the Farm Progress Show.               But Peter’s company is not the only Compass in the industry.                      “As we’ve grown and we’re doing business in more and more states, we’re starting to run into confusion with The Compass Group, one of the largest purveyors of food and beverage in the world,” Peters said.               Peters said attorneys from that Compass contacted his firm and he eventually opted for a name change.               “I was anticipating updating our message and logo, so it also seemed an appropriate time to take the big plunge and do the name change to avoid confusion,” he said.                      The result was a new name, VenuWorks, but Peters said his company is still managed by the compass, not the clock.                     “We have broadened our expertise to be able to be a national company and work in larger markets,” Peters said. “We are ready to step up to that next level.”                 That doesn’t mean, however, that VenuWorks will cease focusing on secondary and tertiary markets. It does mean the company has the wherewithal to serve larger facilities.                  “We are not changing our targeted niche,” he said. “You won’t see us out there bidding on NHL or NBA facilities. But, we are ready to mix it up.”                  And, why not? From the basement of Peters’ home in 1996 where his first contract was inked for a project study in Dodge City, Kan., VenuWorks today manages eight arenas, eight convention/conference centers, eight theaters and two outdoor venues in 11 states and 15 communities. The company works from North Carolina to Washington State and North Dakota to Mississippi.             VenuWorks continues to perform feasibility studies, operations audits and consulting work for clients with existing and prospective public assembly facilities. It has completed over three dozen consulting studies from coast to coast.                       VenuWorks has been involved in the development of new public assembly facilities in several communities across the country, serving as the owner’s representative in the development, design, construction, and management of the facility.             Peters favorite job is to help cities and municipalities make an appropriate choice early in the process.                   “I like working with the city boards and commissions,” Peters said. “I enjoy the fact that the projects we do have a community service aspect. I enjoy the fact that we work with the people on the ground level.                    For example, at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, “they were thinking about renovating their existing building. After some study, we said, ‘You’ve got the wrong concept. You can build a new building and still stay within your budget.’ That building has been open for four years now. They have been able to hold tons of community events and then events such as the WWE, Sesame Street, and the Hometown Circus Feld produced. Having the ability to take that kind of entertainment into a city of 10,000 is a real kick.”    Meeting Demands a Key        VenuWorks has set up its operations in a way that enables it to meet all demands of facility operations. It is no coincidence VenuWorks is constantly growing to make sure it is able to cover all its bases. It can play with the “big boys.”            Under the name of Concourse Premium Food, the company provides both concessions and catering services. Although not mandatory, food service contracts have come hand-in-hand with the facility management concept.                        Along with the company name change, Peters said Concourse Premium Food will most likely have a new name at some point, too.                     John Lamkin, director of the Concourse Premium Food and Merchandising Division, is responsible for business development and sales, concession and catering management, and oversight of all food operations.                    Will VenuWorks ever go after just a food contract?             “Well, we are actually in discussions about just that,” said Sharon Cummins, VenuWorks director of Planning and Development.                “So, yes, I think that is possible,” Cummins said. But VenuWorks has also built strong relationships having worked alongside other national food and beverage companies.                   Another service just about a year old comes under booking. VenuWorks used to outsource its booking services to Consolidated Entertainment Group.                     “We brought that in about a year go and created a division of our own,” Peters said. “Phil Potter is over that, now. We are now securing shows for our facilities. Some of our buildings want to be the risk takers and promote the shows. In some facilities, we are co-promoting.                     “However, we are not trying to compete with local promoters,” he said. “But, instead we want to work with them. We try to package shows. In most cases, we are working as advocates for our building managers.”             Potter’s extensive background includes director of events and concert bookings at Pershing Center in Lincoln, Neb. He was SMG’s regional booking director of tertiary markets. He was also a talent buyer for the Don Romeo Agency in Omaha, Neb., now TBA Fairs and Festivals.                   Potter came on board in February. He had had a long working relationship with Doug Kuhnel, VenuWorks senior vice president.             “It just seemed like a good situation,” Potter said. “My first love is booking and that is exactly what I will be doing.”                        Even though many of VenuWorks markets are secondary, Potter expects to let everyone know that the facilities are great buildings. “I want to make them aware there is a building in Kennewick, Wash.,” he said. “I want them to know that the buildings may be smaller, but they are really nice, good buildings.”             VenuWorks has gotten involved in representing its interest in booking by attending seminars and conventions. They have made their rounds to booking agencies.                   “I think some booking agencies in Nashville will remember us showing up with red sweatshirts and elf hats during the holidays,” Peters said. “We left them with information on the company.”                      Another facility management service VenuWorks can address for cities and buildings is goal planning.                 “We can help a building come up with their goals and plans to accomplish those goals,” Peters said. “Then, we can provide the people and resources. We can support them in all areas. At a corporate level, we are very involved. We have 18 people to cover 15 markets. We have 150 full-time people and 2,000 part-time.”                 Once up and running a facility, VenuWorks annually reviews all their operations to make sure needs are being met.                   VenuWorks general managers are clearly excited with their positions. Jeff Kossow, executive director, Three Rivers Convention Center, Toyota Arena and Toyota Center, Kennewick, Wash., was recruited in 1998 to open the Alerus Center, Grand Forks, N.D.                  “I had known Steve for awhile,” Kossow said. “We had worked together at the Target Center (Minneapolis). Steve is very well respected; clearly his reputation is impeccable. I have been thrilled to be here.”             Rick Palmer, executive director, RiverCenter/Adler Theatre, Davenport, Iowa, said since VenuWorks has come on board, RiverCenter and Adler Theatre have seen an increase in programming.                  “The Compass team was intricately involved in the process to renovate the Adler Theatre for additional production features, including stage size, sound and rigging improvements, dressing room accommodations and load-in/out efficiencies,” Palmer said. “Additionally, we have utilized Compass resources to control expenses and increase efficiencies.”             Palmer said his relationship with Compass has been personally rewarding.               “When the opportunity to join Compass Facility Management for the RiverCenter/ Adler Theatre presented itself, I did not hesitate to jump on board,” he said. “I experienced what it was like to work with Mr. Peters in earlier job duties. I knew that I would be working with an organization that would be led by an individual whose own principles are driven by integrity and fairness.” Interviewed for this story: Steve Peters, (515) 232-5151; John Lamkin, (623) 792-5474; Sharon Cummins, (319) 350-4078; Phil Potter, (402) 613-7799; Jeff Kossow, (509) 735-9400; Rick Palmer, (563) 362-8500