Molinari has been with SMG for 18 years and during his tenure in Detroit, he was promoted to regional director of operations for SMG Mideast, where he oversaw the operations departments of 15 regional facilities. Prior to his Cobo assignment, he was assistant general manager of Pittsburgh's David Lawrence Convention Center, and the general manager of SMGX Exposition Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of SMG. In that capacity he gained experience working at some of the nation's largest convention centers, including the Las Vegas Convention Center and Javits Center in New York.
"I am really looking forward to the challenge of the new role as general manager of the iconic Cobo Center and will do my best to succeed an industry veteran like Thom Connors," said Molinari. "I am excited to work with the Cobo team to bring customer service, bookings and maintenance, to even higher levels in the future."
Additionally, Cedric Turnbore has been promoted to director of operations for Cobo Center, and his responsibilities will expand to include the oversight of production, sustainability, and janitorial services.
Turnbore came to Cobo with more than 20 years of experience with top brand properties including the Westin Book Cadillac and Marriott Hotels. Working for Cobo Center for over six years, he has moved up the ranks from production services manager to senior operations manager prior to this promotion.
Larry Alexander, chairman of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) and president of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, added, "Having true hospitality veterans like Thom, Claude and Cedric on the team with their unique knowledge and expertise has been a tremendous asset as we worked through the transformation of Cobo Center. And just as their work has already elevated the operations and customer service in the facility, their leadership going forward will ensure that Cobo Center continues to earn its reputation as an exceptional event and conference venue."
During the recent $279 million renovation at Cobo Center, initiated and completed on time and on budget by the DRCFA in just over five years, Cobo doubled the event days each year, showing a steady up-tick in bookings year over year. Cobo Center also received 11 awards for excellence, including the Green Meetings Industry Council's APEX/ASTM standard certification, Detroit EcoWorks Sustainable Communities Champion award, Keep Michigan Beautiful President's Plaque. The number of conventions tripled during that time along with the increase in operating revenue. Mandated by the state of Michigan to eliminate its state convention center operating subsidy by 2023, Cobo Center has already reduced the subsidy from 2009 of $20 million to less than $8 million in 2015.