All posts in: Bristol Updates

After 25 years of dedicated service to the Hospitality division of Bristol Associates, Sr. Vice President Kelly Nelson has announced his retirement effective May 1, 2020. Vice President Catia Pecoraro will serve as the new division leader upon Kelly’s retirement.

In April 1995, Kelly joined Bristol as an executive recruiter in the Hotels and Resorts industry. Over the years, he became a key contributor in expanding the division into Travel, Tourism, Theme Parks, Attractions, Facilities, and Concession Services industries.

“It has been a great pleasure for me to work with leading companies in our industry as they build their corporate culture and enhance their executive management teams,” says Kelly, expressing sentiment on his retirement. “I also have had the opportunity to work with highly talented candidates in support of their career ambitions. Over the course of time, it has been gratifying for me to watch so many of our candidates’ progress within their organizations.”

Kelly continues, “I am also pleased to announce that Catia Pecoraro will assume the leadership role for Bristol’s Hospitality and Travel/Attractions practice. Catia is an adept hospitality industry recruiter with over ten years of experience with executive level search. She joined our organization in January, and we have worked together to ensure a smooth transition. I can assure you that you will be in good hands with Catia.”

Catia shares her thoughts as Kelly passes the torch over to her, “It’s been an honor to work with you, Kelly. Even though you’re retiring, your legacy of greatness will continue on with us here at Bristol. The profound footprint you’ve established in executive search is undeniable, you’ve truly made a remarkable impact over the past 25 years. I am honored to lead the way with Bristol’s hospitality division – achieving continued success and extraordinary results. Thank you for your unwavering service to the industry and to our team here at Bristol. Enjoy every moment of your retirement, to say it is deserved is an understatement. Well done, Kelly!”

We also reached out to Kelly’s long-time Bristol colleagues to give a proper send-off.

“Kelton Nelson, where do I begin? He personifies work ethic and exceptional results. Kelly has been a pillar of our firm for 25 years, bringing to our office wit, intellect and an unrivaled industry prowess day in and day out. Out of all the support I have been fortunate enough to receive from family and friends over the years, Kelly made an equally everlasting impact on my career here at Bristol Associates. If it wasn’t for Kelly I wouldn’t be where I am today. He is a true leader, mentor, friend and always the consummate professional.

Cheers to you Kelly! There will never be another Executive Recruiter like you.”

– Ben Farber, President

“As we sit looking out at the Patagonia landscape on the last day of our excursion, we realized that part of the reason we are here is because of Kelly who always encouraged us to travel to exotic places. So, it is fitting that we write our appreciation in this remarkable landscape.

As Kelly has mentioned, he started with Bristol Associates in 1995 after a successful career in the travel and casino industry. We were very lucky that he decided to give Executive Recruiting a chance, as his contributions to Bristol have been enormous.

Kelly was very knowledgeable about the hospitality and tour & travel industries. He always thought in the long term about his relationships with clients and candidates and, as a result, always created positive results benefiting everyone.

We wish him all the best in his retirement and hope that he keeps on traveling so we can continue to follow his inspired adventures.”

– Jim Bright & Lucy Farber, Former owners of Bristol Associates (retired 2014)

“Congratulations to Kelly Nelson on a fabulous career and well-earned retirement. Even though my tenure at Bristol preceded his by several years, I was the fortunate beneficiary of his superb business acumen, exceptional marketing ability, and genuine team-player approach. Aside from all that, he’s a great guy and my good friend.

Kelly—Enjoy!!! You deserve it.”

– Peter Stern, Former Sr. Vice President for Food Manufacturing Division (retired 2017)

Congratulations on your retirement, Kelly! We’ll miss you!

Bristol Associates is very pleased to announce Catia Pecoraro as the newest addition to the firm’s experienced executive search team.

Catia will be the Vice President of our Hospitality division, joining Sr. Vice President Kelly Nelson in managing searches for hotels and resorts; travel, tourism, and attractions; and facilities and concessions.

“We are really looking forward to Catia utilizing her strong industry background to further service our clients and candidates,” says Kelly Nelson.

Catia brings over 12 years of experience in executive recruitment with an expertise in the hospitality industry. She has worked with some of the most prestigious brands that are recognized around the world. Known for specializing in building world-class teams, Catia inspires her network to do what they love and love what they do.

We asked Catia a series of questions to break the ice.

Q: What led you to your career as a recruiter?

“I grew up around the industry, I was immersed from a very young age as my father has an executive search firm. I remember going to his office after school and wanting to listen to his conversations so I could spend time with him and also so I could learn from him. Recruiting to me isn’t just a career, it’s a lifestyle, and I often say it feels like it’s a part of my DNA. In a very strong way it feels like executive recruitment chose me and the feeling was mutual.”

Q: What are you passionate about?

“Being alive! How lucky are we to have this experience we call life? Having this opportunity to be the artist of my life is what ignites my passion and feeds my energy to continue doing what brings me joy every single day.”

Q: Describe yourself in three words.

“Visionary. Epistemophilic. Worldly.”

Q: How do you describe what you do for a living to family and friends?

“I solve people puzzles. I connect individuals with amazing career opportunities and companies with leaders who will thrive together. I help professionals clarify their visions for their career and life, and I find and build solid and sustainable teams for my clients today and the future.”

Q: What motivates you at work?

“My inner drive and compass and my personal ‘Why’ is what motivates me foremost, and what’s just as significant is my team and our dynamic, our synergy as a whole.”

Q: How do you recharge after a busy day?

“I’ve learned to keep it simple. It’s really about asking myself what I need in that moment and then doing it. Sometimes it’s unplugging completely, spending time with a loved one, cuddling with my pup, meditating with binaural beats, going outside to connect with nature…it’s really just listening to what I need and not questioning it, just doing it.”

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

“Travel! It’s a very big part of my life because I love experiencing new cultures, cuisines, landscapes, languages and having the opportunity to learn new perspectives while meeting different people. Being in nature too! I feel so fortunate to live in such a gorgeous state with amazing weather year-round. Walking or bike riding with my dog, catching a sunset at the beach, making art while enjoying the sun, and spending time with my loved ones.”

Q: Who inspires you?

“Those who don’t allow their circumstances to define them. I’m inspired daily by people whose name I don’t even know because I look for those moments where magic happens. We all have the capacity to inspire others, it’s really a matter of what we choose to do with it every day.”

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I was so curious as a kid, I still am, though because of that I wanted to know what all of the adults I knew did for a living and then I would dive into the rabbit hole of learning all I could about it. I changed my mind a lot as a kid because I was constantly learning about a new career and imagining what it would be like if I did that when I grew up. Deep down I always wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and I think being surrounded by the industry I naturally became more curious.”

Q: Over the course of your life, how many cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?

“I’ve traveled a lot over the course of my life and lived in many countries for months at a time, though only 4 cities for a long period of time. My favorite thus far is Venice Beach, CA.”

Q: Where’s your favorite place in the world?

“Just one? Well, how about a region…the Mediterranean, and to be more specific, Sicily and a small island in Greece called Alonnisos. It’s where I feel most home away from home. Being Sicilian might have something to do with it…but regardless, it’s my favorite region in the world.”

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you want to have with you?

“I would go with a machete, a photo of the ones I love, and an encyclopedia and/or book that specifically tells me what plants/vegetation life is edible, what plants can be used as medicine and which ones are considered poisonous.”

Q: What kind of music do you like?

“What I listen to depends on what I’m doing or trying to achieve because I utilize it to my advantage whether it’s to stay focused, to feel something, to be creative, whatever it may be, music ignites me. I love so many genres and most recently I find myself listening to music from the 80s yet also listening to a lot of  tribal and native genres with strong tones and beats like El Buho. Variety in my music choices is key.”

Q: Do you have any book recommendations?

“The Third Door, Principles, The Mastery of Self, The Artist’s Way”

Q: If you could choose one hobby that now seems out of your reach either financially or time-wise, what hobby would you take up and why?

“I would love to learn how to sing. I love how music can make one feel so much from even just the tone of the artist. I did learn how to play instruments as a young child, though never learned how to use my vocal cords to make music. Maybe I’ll find a vocal coach and let you know how it’s going in a few months time.”

Q: What’s the one piece of advice you would give others about life? 

“Everything (in life) is right on time. Always. Find out what you’re good at and focus on ways to become great at it, maximize your strengths and you will fast root your life. No one becomes extraordinary in life being good at everything.  Luck and overnight success don’t just happen, it takes clear focus and dedication to your vision and when you work towards it, when you can see the forest through the trees that’s when opportunity presents itself, that’s when synchronicities happen and life evolves. It takes consistency and honoring the journey in knowing that everything, absolutely everything in life is right on time. We don’t get to click our heels and end up in Kansas like Dorothy did from The Wizard of Oz, but when we look back and take in our own journey we can connect the dots of why some things took longer, why some things happened more easily, why some things ended in order for us to find anew…it will all make sense in do time. Just remember, everything in life is right on time.”

We’re happy to have you in our Bristol family, Catia! Please give her a warm welcome by emailing her at, dialing 310-670-0525 ext. 1105, or messaging via LinkedIn.

Bristol Associates, Inc. has launched its 19th Annual Casino Gaming Executive Satisfaction Survey in conjunction with Spectrum Gaming Group. 

The goal of our survey is to help the gaming industry attract, retain, and motivate its executive talent. We aim to provide insight on executives’ attitudes and preferences towards their workplace and the industry at large.

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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.

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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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