Drawing a standing-room-only audience, Buddy Valastro Jr., star of TLC's top-rated show "Cake Boss," headlined as the ASI Show New York's keynote speaker this morning. Taking the stage in his white chef's coat, Valastro recounted his start as a family business owner and entrepreneur at the age of 17 when his father, who was at the helm of the 100-year-old business, passed away. "My parents were immigrants from Italy who always taught me to work hard, remember where I came from and to use good ingredients and charge a premium for our products," he said. "People will always be willing to pay more for and appreciate good quality and service."
Valastro, whose TV show has been viewed by over one billion people in more than 100 countries, said that his most important advice to entrepreneurial small-business owners is to maintain, promote and protect your brand. "I've gotten coverage in over 200 publications because of the cakes, yeah, but also because I'm a fun guy and I'm easy to work with," he said.
Now with more than 300 employees and a multitude of business ventures for which he's responsible, Valastro advised audience members not to be afraid to fail and to own their mistakes. "Listen, it takes guts to grow a business and it can be scary," he said. "But you gotta give it a shot."
The keynote presentation was sponsored by Showdown Displays (asi/87188), a four-time Counselor Distributor Choice award-winning company. Valastro is following up his keynote speech with a cake presentation on the ASI New York trade show floor this afternoon. Check out www.asicentral.com for video coverage of the special presentation.