New Fairplex marketing head has roots at the fair [Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Calif.]
(Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 31--POMONA -- As occasionally mischievous boys, Michael Chee and his brothers decided to take home as many glasses and dishes from the LA County Fair as possible. Their skills enabled them to fulfill their goal by pitching dimes in the fair's Fun Zone.
"We took home a lot of cheap glass that year," recalled Chee, who still smiles when he thinks about the fun of carnival games in the fair zone and the exhilaration of riding the old roller-coaster the Chee boys called "a brain-busting ride."
"We loved it because it was terrifying boys' stuff," Chee continued, laughing in childlike glee. "We loved coming to the fair nearly every day because for a month we were able to run all over the grounds here."
Chee, 47. is again running all over the Los Angeles County fairgrounds as the new director of marketing, community and public relations at Fairplex.
His adult role requires he move past the bright, neon lights of the Fun Zone, but he plans on experiencing new thrills checking out the various features of the fair, supervising a team of media and marketing specialists and linking Fairplex events and people to Southern California communities.
Chee predicts endless enthusiasm and 25 years of marketing experience will help him adjust well as a Fairplex administrative insider.
Chee is a Los Angeles native and single dad raising daughter Alora, 16, a junior and honor student at John Burroughs High School in Burbank. He earned a bachelor degree in English literature from Loyola Marymount University as the next-best focus to the unavailable media and public relations. Both study fields required intense reading and writing skills.
"Someone once told me public relations was all about entertaining clients and playing golf," he said, laughing at his gullibility. "I believed him because it sounded good to me at the time. Then I quickly discovered it was a lot more."
Perhaps his lofty ideas were unconsciously generated by the fact his father, Dudley Chee, was a professional glazer installing glass on commercial and industrial buildings. Whenever Michael, younger brothers Patrick, Brian and Christopher and their mother, medical transcriber Margaret Chee, wandered around Los Angeles, they were frequently looking up at Dudley's high-rise glass installations.
Michael got accustomed, even as a child, at aiming high. Luckily, his first job as a public relations/marketing specialist landed him at Vuarnet France, an high-end sunglass company, and led him to a mentor who, also a Loyola Marymount grad, took him under his wing to teach him everything he knew.
"It was an absolutely invaluable experience because it laid the foundation for my career in marketing," Chee credited. "I had a great deal of fun working for a company with a hot brand that steadily grew in popularity and later expanded to water and land sports, general apparel and beachwear. I was a LMU intern there and was hired when I graduated.
"All this came from stumbling across a tiny internship posting on campus. I was the only person to apply. Today, I would have been blown out of the water by hundreds of more qualified applicants. I was lucky," Chee conceded.
Armed with extensive experience in business writing, marketing principles, consumer interactions and trade travel, Chee left Vuarnet to become a marketing executive with Fortune 50 companies, nonprofits and governmental agencies (including South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar). He served as Blue Cross of California's corporate communications director before establishing his own Milagro Communications.
Milagro provided marketing and communications services to multiethnic, multicultural corporations, community-based organizations, individuals and municipalities.
He accepted the Fairplex job to return to his creative marketing roots and help establish Fairplex as a "major event-entertainment destination year-round."
"The fair is obviously our centerpiece, but there's more we can do to make this a premier destination year-round because all the pieces are in place with a business exposition center, hotel and fantastic property. There is no other venue of this magnitude in east L.A. County. We can choose what we want to be in 10 years. And it shouldn't look like what we have today," he concluded.
(c)2013 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)
Visit the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.) at www.dailybulletin.com
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