The JDK Group: Making Memories in PA, One Valued Client at a Time
Spring 2016 Catalyst
By Lindsay Andrews
The memory of a significant life event stems from the ambiance surrounding it. Whether it’s an important corporate reception, a social event where you want to make a great impression or one of the most special days of your life — your wedding day — the JDK Group’s energized team of specialists is in the business of making that memory a beautiful one.
From their 22,000 square feet facility in Camp Hill, PA, the JDK Group houses an impressive selection of tents, tables, chairs, decorative items, lighting, catering equipment and the latest in event technology — all of which is expertly sorted and ready to be packed into trucks and whisked to the next soiree. The warehouse is organized by a director of operations who ensures that the inventory is well stocked and available; while a director of design and innovation oversees the event planning process and a marketing team handles menus, signage and more. In all, a cohesive team of 30 full time and 250 on-call staff produces between seven to 15 events on any given Saturday at some of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful locales; including the Linwood Estate in Carlisle, the Vineyard at Hershey and the Bond in York — all of which the JDK Group exclusively manage.
The JDK Group story is one of humble beginnings and shows how hard work, vision and talent can drive success. Founder and CEO Jennifer DeLay started out working in the food stands at City Island in Harrisburg. Her experience and love for food services led her to open a restaurant, which blossomed into a catering enterprise that sparked the business that exists today. “We now host full service catering all over central Pennsylvania, and in 2007, we realized that we wanted to focus on specialty events and started rental and design divisions,” recounts Steve Sanchez, chief marketing officer and vice president of sales for JDK Group. With the addition of these two new departments, the company was viewed as a legitimate event planner at venues across the region. Their focus on service and commitment to excel in the delivery of each experience made focusing on weddings a natural fit. Through “Weddings by JDK,” the business took off, and now offers a “full litany of services,” Sanchez says. “We are continuing to grow and evolve.”
When developing the wedding production component, the company sought to answer the question, “Why can’t central Pennsylvania be a destination?” with the answer being to take advantage of the region’s natural beauty and unique facilities. The JDK Group has capitalized on the fact that Pennsylvania has grown in popularity as a wedding location, and over the years has built a reputation among local clients that they can be relied on to deliver high quality results.
Part of that quality is in the service. The employees at the JDK Group aren’t just good at going above and beyond clients’ expectations — they enjoy it. This helps define the company’s mission of understanding what each event is about, designing the décor and menu around the client(s) and making them feel as though they’ve entered into an exclusive location designed specifically for them. “For our corporate clients, we want to know why they’re in business,” Sanchez said. “We want to know more about our bride and groom and who they are as individuals. Our clients might only ever partner with us once — for their wedding, a graduation party or some other major event in their lives — and we want to make their event a memory they’ll never forget.”
The seamless execution of so many events requires a great deal of professionalism and long hours. That’s why the JDK Group is committed to letting its employees know they are valued and instrumental to the company’s success. “We have a family atmosphere, hosting seasonal events and spending time together along with our spouses and children, offering incentives and programs to reward our staff,” Sanchez says. “We constantly seek their feedback, asking them how we can improve upon our services. They love seeing the innovative things we can do. They love seeing a smile on a bride’s face and knowing they were a part of it.”
The JDK Group has stayed a step ahead of what’s trending in the events world by serving on boards, going to conferences and gaining inspiration from other renowned companies in their field. “We think globally, and act locally,” Sanchez explains. This philosophy has served the company well, earning them international awards for event production — including Gov. Tom Corbett’s Inaugural Ball with over 6,500 people in attendance. They also continue to secure major contracts that include large-scale weddings and corporate clients.
JDK looks forward to continued growth and success as they strive to carry out one-of-a-kind events and stay ahead of the curve. They’re also doing their part to move toward a greener, more sustainable operation through the purchase of a new aquaponics food system that allows them to use 90 percent less water and grow organic food for their catering services 60 percent faster. The new system was most recently displayed at the PA Farm Show, and is currently being integrated. “We are one of the first catering companies to use this system,” Sanchez says. “It’s a very purpose-driven project that’s helping us reduce our environmental footprint, and is a big step for our company that we’re very proud of.”
With a creative, innovative team at the helm, the JDK Group is firmly planted in central Pennsylvania with a bright focus on the future. “Our services will continue to evolve as consumer needs change,” Sanchez says. It’s a sure pathway to success for this forward-looking company.
Lindsay Andrews is manager of communications for the PA Chamber.