A Meeting Planner To Know: Caytie Pohlen-LaClare
The LaClare Group, 11812 Wayzata Blvd, Suite 224, Minnetonka 55305
Caytie Pohlen-LaClare has spent her entire career in the meetings field, and she’s learned the industry from bottom to top. Thirty years ago, she was a catering secretary at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis; now she’s hosted galas in Paris and owns her own company.
Pohlen-LaClare is president and owner of The LaClare Group, Inc., a meeting and event planning company that focuses on corporate clients and specializes in the medical device industry.
The LaClare Group has seen rapid growth over the last few years. The number of programs and events it managed increased by 100 percent between 2011 and 2012, and has grown another 25 percent in 2013.
The LaClare Group, with Pohlen-LaClare at the helm, has organized everything from a seven-person board retreat to a 600-person gala in Paris. The gala, for a French organization of cardiovascular surgeons, is one of Pohlen-LaClare’s proudest—but also most challenging—events.
“We created the entire venue—held in a beautifully decorated tent—on a section of pavement at the Trocadero, which looks across the Seine River,” Pohlen-LaClare said. “We opened up the tent flaps to create a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower.”
And while the end result was idyllic, Pohlen-LaClare said it didn’t come without its challenges.
“Two months before the Paris gala, the company we hired in advance to be our ‘middleman’ in France hadn’t gotten anything done,” she recalled. “We had to fire them and scramble to find another company to manage the whole process. It was incredibly stressful, but luckily the new catering company had their own internal client liaison who proved fantastic.”
While Pohlen-LaClare loves organizing big galas, she says she gets just as much gratification from planning simple sales training events for the medical device industry—such as a retreat for St. Paul-based RespirTech.
“The company manufactures a medical device for people with cystic fibrosis, and while I was on-site with the group, one of their patients gave a talk about how their product had improved his quality of life,” Pohlen-LaClare said. “I was so moved by his testimonial it brought tears to my eyes.”
While today Pohlen-LaClare says she’s honored to work with companies that save lives, it was mostly by happenstance that her group ended up specializing in the medical device industry.
One of her first clients was a medical device provider, and Pohlen-LaClare said she learned so much about the company and industry that it just evolved from there. Now, her firm’s specialty has been the best differentiator the company has among other meeting planning companies, she said.
“Because the industry has so many complicated rules and regulations, our knowledge really sets us apart,” she added.
Pohlen-LaClare is the heart of The LaClare Group, as the name would suggest.
“As a business owner, my duties go far beyond the typical ‘meeting planner’ duties,” she said. “At various times, I am the HR department, the accountant, the sales and marketing person, etc. It’s a lot to handle but I love the variety and challenges of being a business owner.”
• University of Wisconsin, Stout, Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising
• The LaClare Group, Inc., owner and president, (1997-present)
• Carlson Marketing Group (now Aimia), meetings and events planner (1995-1996)
• Texas Association of School Boards, meetings planner (1991-1995)
• Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, catering secretary (1983-1985)
Outside activities and interests
Pohlen-LaClare enjoys working to improve her Spanish and French language skills, outdoor fitness, cooking, and reading. She’s been known to break into dance when a good song comes on the radio, much to the embarrassment of her four children—who range in age from 7 to 23 years old. She lives with her family in Minnetonka.