All posts in: Bristol Updates
Kelly Nelson sitting in a prior Bristol office in 2004

Pictured: Kelly Nelson in a prior Bristol office in 2004

April 17, 2019 – Today marks Senior Vice President Kelly Nelson’s 24th year at Bristol Associates. Kelly joined Bristol in 1995 as an executive recruiter in the Hotels & Resorts industry. He became a key contributor in the development of the Travel/Tourism, Theme Park & Attractions, and Facilities & Concession Services practices that further expanded our Hospitality industry practice to what it is today.

He is a native of the Midwest and a proud alumnus of The University of Iowa as a member of the fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta. He is a past and/or current member of numerous professional associations, including AHLA, HSMA, SITE, MPI, USTOA, PATA, ASTA, CLIA, and IAAPA.  Prior to Bristol Associates, Kelly served as Vice President Marketing, Lady Luck Gaming; Sr. Vice President Sales and Marketing at Hawaiian Airlines; and COO of The Carlson Travel Group.

We asked Kelly a series of questions to reflect on his career journey thus far.

How did you join Bristol Associates?
In 1994, I was serving as the Vice President of Marketing for Lady Luck Gaming Corporation, based in Las Vegas. We were opening casinos in Mississippi, Iowa, and Colorado, and Bristol Associates was our executive recruiting firm of choice. I met personally with the owner, Jim Bright, and he assisted me in filling numerous property level positions. Lady Luck reorganized in late 1994, and I suddenly found myself a candidate, as opposed to a client. Jim approached me several months later and asked if I would consider executive recruiting, and the rest was history.

What is your favorite memory working at Bristol Associates?
I think assisting in the recruiting, training, and mentoring of new employees joining the company, and in so doing – adding to the development of our corporate culture. Now, I actually report to one of these (no longer so) junior associates. Our President and current owner Ben Farber joined the organization in August of 2003, and now provides direction and leadership to the organization. I find it a very memorable accomplishment to assist young people in the growth of their careers.

What is your proudest accomplishment at Bristol Associates?
My proudest accomplishment came last year. It was a story of “coming full cycle”. I started my career directly after college, and my first managerial assignment was in the travel industry working as a Branch Manager for AAA Iowa World Travel. I was a working retail travel agent, and managed a small branch in Waterloo, Iowa. Last year, Bristol Associates was selected by the National American Automobile Association (AAA) to manage their search for a key executive to lead their entire travel enterprise. While it is just one of the many significant placements that I have made in the industry, I am particularly proud that I was able to give back to an organization that was so integral to my early career success.

In what ways has Bristol Associates changed from when you first started working for the company?
The obvious answer is technology and the progressive use of the internet as a recruiting tool. However, what may be more important is to reflect on is what has not changed at Bristol Associates.  While trends and techniques have changed, we have never wavered from our steadfast commitment to ethical operation, quality, high touch customer service, and confidentiality for both clients and candidates.

In what ways have you changed since you started working at Bristol Associates?
I was virtually untrained in matters of technology – I did not even own a personal computer. Hard to imagine in retrospect. I had the other attributes for success in recruiting – transactional skills, the ability to negotiate, marketing skills, closing abilities, etc.  But, without the training provided by Bristol, I would not have been able to keep up with the advance of technology.

What has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
I have always had a strong motivation to succeed.  I had already worked in sales and had experience in dealing with rejection.  I think principle to my success has been my ability to garner an understanding of the needs of the customer, and to find creative ways to fill that need.  I have focused on the theory of “find the need and fill it” throughout my career.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up as a kid, my father was a salesperson. It became apparent to me in life that I had the ability to influence, negotiate, and close. It was just a question of where to apply those skills in a future career.  My interest in foreign travel and adventure drove me to the travel industry. Truly, my avocation became my vocation.

What hobbies do you do outside of work?
I am an avid international adventure traveler, recently returning from the Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I have had the opportunity to travel extensively, visiting virtually all continents in the world. These adventures have included eight major trips to Africa. As a somewhat associated hobby, I am a collector of cartography (antique maps), and an amateur photographer. I generally find a way to get a round of golf in every week.

Congratulations Kelly for 24 years at Bristol Associates! Your strong dedication and commitment to the company and Hospitality industry has brought inspiration and life-changing career opportunities to many. We are fortunate to have an exemplary mentor like yourself on our team.

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for companies in the casino gaming, food manufacturing, hospital/healthcare, hotels/resorts, travel/tourism/attractions, facilities/concessions, and restaurant businesses.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a job seeker.

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December is a month of reflection and we look back with pride on what has been an incredibly eventful year here at Bristol Associates. We celebrated a major milestone in our 50th anniversary, overcame significant business hurdles, acquired terrific technological upgrades and have solidified an outstanding team of hard-working and thoughtful recruitment experts! We are especially grateful for your business and look forward to continuing our tradition of providing exceptional executive search services.

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season. We hope that 2017 was a year filled with fond memories and we look forward to partnering with you again in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Peter Stern and David Alford

Pictured: Peter Stern (left) and David Alford (right)

Continuing our 50-year tradition of excellence in recruitment, we are proud to announce the newest member of our team! Please welcome David Alford, Director of our Food & Beverage Manufacturing division.

David will be replacing Sr. Vice President Peter Stern, who leaves behind a tradition of excellence after 28 years of service. Peter made a positive impact on a countless number of companies and even more careers. Our firm is very proud of the successful and highly-recognized national practice that he developed and maintained.

“It’s been an honor to serve our great industry and the many people who work in it for these many years. Going forward, you’ll be in good hands with David at the helm.”

– Peter Stern

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In celebration of 50 years, we just launched an exciting rebrand! New look, same core values.


2017 marks Bristol Associates 50th Anniversary and another successful year for our executive search firm. It is with enormous pride that I represent the 3rd generation of family leadership. As technology improves, increasing the speed and ease in which we operate, our fundamental principles remain engrained in every search we conduct. Integrity, reliability, and results are the foundation of our organization, day in and day out.

Bristol Associates is very fortunate to have several clients and candidates who have engaged our services for decades. We owe our success to our loyal network. Without you, we would not be here today. We are also grateful for each other. Our team is an extended family, many of whom have held their post with us for more than 20 years.

To show our appreciation for your continued support, we hope that our rebranded platforms allow you to gain greater convenience to our company’s services and executive recruiters.

As we reflect on the memories and traditions that shaped such a rich history, we are excited to sustain real relationships in an era powered by automated customer service.

Ben Farber, President

Ben Farber, Bristol Associates President and Owner






Bristol Associates is an executive search firm with a 50-year history of excellence. Bristol specializes in recruiting for companies and candidates in the casino gaming, food manufacturing, hospital/healthcare, hotels/resorts, travel/tourism/attractions, facilities/concessions, and restaurant businesses.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a job seeker.

Three Generations of Bristol Owners Group Photo

(From left to right: Ben Farber, Lucy Farber, Sandie Bright, Jim Bright Jr., Nora Bright)

In the spring of 1967, Jim Sr. and Sandie Bright, founders of Bristol Associates, started up the Los Angeles Franchise of Roth Young Personnel Services. Jim and Sandie believed that honesty was the foundation of the recruiting company and incorporated this virtue throughout their work.

When Jim Sr. passed away in 1982, their son, Jim Bright Jr., and his wife, Lucy Farber, bought into the business as the President and Vice President. In 1990, the company separated from Roth Young and became Bristol Associates, which was inspired by the park nearby their office, Bristol Parkway. Under Jim Jr. and Lucy’s leadership, they integrated supporting their family, fostering their employees, and building long-term relationships with their clients and candidates into the business.

In 1997, Sandie retired after 30 years of service, and it wasn’t long before Jim and Lucy’s nephew, Ben Farber joined the team straight out of college diving into the Casino division. Nora Bright, Jim and Lucy’s daughter, began working full time at Bristol in 2013. The following year, Jim and Lucy retired and sold their business to Nora and Ben, who took ownership as the third generation. In 2017, Nora discovered her passion for marketing and decided to go back to school to pursue this interest.

This year, Ben represents the third generation of family leadership as the Owner and President of the company. Bristol celebrated its 50th Anniversary in June 2017. Past and present employees came together to eat, reminisce, and share the milestone as a family. In addition, the business launched a rebrand with a new look while retaining the core values of Bristol.

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Audience Applaud Clapping Happines Appreciation Training Concept

This year, Bristol Associates is celebrating its 50th year in business. Started by Jim and Sandie Bright in 1967, then passed to Jim Bright, Jr. and Lucy Farber, Bristol is proud of its heritage and the fact that it is still helmed by family. Today, Bristol is led by President Ben Farber, nephew of Jim, Jr. and Lucy, and his cousin, Nora Bright, Executive VP and granddaughter of Jim and Sandie.

In addition, the Bristol team can boast of the long tenure of two of its recruiters, Kelly Nelson and Peter Stern. Kelly, recently promoted to Senior Vice President, began working at Bristol in 1995 and Peter Stern, also just promoted to Senior Vice President, has been with the company since 1989.

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Nicole and Jenae 2It’s hard to believe that Jenae and Nicole have been part of the Bristol team for a year! Both LMU graduates, Jenae and Nicole just so happened to start working at Bristol on the same day last February.

Jenae is the team’s Recruiting Coordinator, always happy to assist the account executives with daily recruiting tasks such as sourcing and screening candidates.

Nicole is the Marketing Coordinator, focusing her efforts on social media, blogging, and sending out our monthly newsletter.

Keep up the good work ladies, Bristol is happy to have you both!