story starts in New Rochelle, New York where she
was the first born child of Vito & Carmella
Savanello. Barbara never had a chance to
become familiar with her hometown though. "My parents went
to Florida on vacation when I was two years
old and fell in love with it," Barbara said.
"So, they went back home to New York – sold
everything they owned, packed up the car and made the
journey back to Miami. My parents were
thrilled to start a new life in the Sunshine State. We
spent many days at the beach and enjoying the wonderful
weather and all the palm trees everywhere. We went
back to New York every summer for vacation but I was
always happy to be living in Florida."
"When I was 4,
my Mom became pregnant with my brother. He
was a 10-month baby and my poor Mom almost
died in childbirth. They promised me
that if I was good they would let ME name my
little brother. He wasn’t really so
little – he was actually 10 pounds and even
though the Priest gave my Mom her last rights
– she miraculously pulled through. I
named my brother Robert and he and I were
always very close," Barbara said.
"We grew up in
an amazing neighborhood where we played outside
all the time. We even drank water from a
hose! For as far back as I can remember
Sunday was family day. Being Italian that
meant that the entire day was based around food.
The entire menu would start with antipasto,
garlic bread, salad, pasta of course, meatballs,
sausage, and many desserts. Our home was
always open to family, neighbors, or whoever may
be in town visiting from New York."
with younger brother Robert
and their "best friend"
High School Prom Night
loved school and always wanted to be a school
teacher," Barbara recalled. "For
some reason that never happened, but I did love
the idea of all the Holidays off and especially
Summer! I was a cheerleader during my Jr.
High School and High School years. I
enjoyed the connection with the other girls on
the squad and loved being a part of all the
sports and activities that went along with being
on the team. Whenever there was a home
game we would have a Pep Rally and I always
enjoyed getting my classmates to join in and
cheer our team on, preparing them for the big
game. I really think that that excitement and
positive energy of being a cheerleader
helped influence my life. Trying my best to
make everyone happy and join in the FUN with
a big smile on my face and always being
moved on to college in Miami but had a hard time
deciding what kind of degree to pursue. "I
went from teaching to interior design, to
psychology," she said. "While I was in
College, I worked at a local Winn Dixie
grocery store and the Store Manager, Mr. Tom
Chess was a huge influence on my
life. He was the BEST boss - everyone respected
him and he would jump right in and help no
matter what the task was. It was a very
busy grocery store with many employees. He
showed me that you really have to love
what you chose as a profession."
influence on Barbara led to her first serious avocation.
"Mr. Chess was an old car enthusiast and
drove a Corvette Stingray and had many other classic
cars. He would enter them in car shows and invite
everyone to attend. I then became a car buff
myself. I ended up buying a '57 T-Bird
(the one with the port holes on the side in American
Graffiti) and it was a blast owning that car.
It was all original, which meant no air conditioning -
and remember that I lived in Miami! I didn’t care
though. It got so much attention - people would
stop me on the road and have conversations with me about
the good old days. When it was time to take the
hard top off it actually took two people. You had
to lift it off carefully and place it somewhere and then
worry that it would get damaged in some way."
& Below: Barbara Neu's prized 1957 Thunderbird.
also bought a 1929 Model A Ford. My Dad
loved it because that was the first car he owned.
Tom Chess taught me so much, and influenced me on how to
treat everyone with respect no matter what their
position was and be willing to help out anyone in any
situation. He made each day enjoyable even though
we all worked so hard.
Barbara's 1929 Model A Ford - the Carvel sign on
was there for a reason as you will see shortly.
Barbara also owned 3 different Corvettes. Her favorite
was this special 25th Anniversary Pace Car
Replaces "Rims" in Barbara's Heart
and 10-month-old son Ray on his 1st Halloween
While she had an
obsession with cars, Barbara was about to
experience love on a much deeper level.
"The highlight of my life was finally
getting pregnant after trying for years and
years, and then - after having to be on
complete bed rest for the last month –
the miracle of birth – when my son Ray
arrived on December 6, 1985. It was the best
Christmas and & New Year's of my life.
He was such a perfect baby and never caused me a
day’s worry and grew up to be a “humble
giant” as his college basketball coach called
Barbara said she was
the happiest woman on earth but, unfortunately,
that euphoria was dampened by an unexpected
shock. "I was so surprised one day when
my husband announced he wanted a divorce
and moved out that night when Ray was only 4
months old. I remember that night like it
was yesterday. Thank God for the help of
my Parents who stepped right up and helped me
He actually had three
parents in his younger years until we met
Howard. Going through a divorce was very
difficult and I was the first of my friends and
acquaintances for it to happen to. As a single
Mom I went to many divorce classes and learned
how to deal with the heartbreak. It gave
me the strength and knowledge to help and guide
so many other women whose situation would be the
same. Till this day – 30 years later –
I am still able to open my heart and give
whatever advice I can after living through a divorce
with a small child and all the challenges that
come with it," Barbara said.
Begins a New Life as an Entrepreneur
that family was the most important thing to her,
Barbara then decided to go into business with
the people she trusted the most - her mom,
dad and brother. "We looked at so many
options and ended up buying a Carvel Ice
Cream Store," Barbara said. "We
started with one and ended up owning three
through the years – Miami, North
Miami and Sunny Isles Beach.
Being in a business that brought pleasure to
people was amazing. Everyone who came in the
door cheerful and left happy!"
it was a family business we also had lots of
employees with three stores to run. We
made our own ice cream at Carvel – people
don’t realize that it is the freshest ice
cream you can buy. We even made all the
hard ice cream flavors. I was chosen by
the company to be on the Board of Governors
and met Tom Carvel, the founder of the
company, when they flew me to the main
headquarters in Yonkers, New York.
I was the youngest owner in the chain of
over 700 stores. It kept me busy,
helping to run three stores and traveling back
and forth to Yonkers."
best part of being a Board of Governor was I was
able to represent other store owners and give my
opinion on what products were going to be
advertised on television and even help decide
how they would be made. I was so excited to be
chosen to make an Ice Cream Cake for Pope
John Paul 11 while he was here in Florida
having dinner with Archbishop Edward
McCarthy who was a good customer of ours.
The cake even made it on the front page of the Miami
Barbara Met Howard
of our stores was a free standing building in
North Miami and it was the busiest Carvel in
Florida. It had two large ice cream cones up
on the corner of the roof. I had to appear
at the City Council to fight for our tall
landmark ice cream cones. At that time, Howard
Neu was the Mayor, but we only knew each
other in passing, and there were four other
Council Members. I went before the Council and
begged them not to make me take down our ice
cream cones – you could see them for miles.
They all voted in my favor so I WON and the
Carvel Corporation was thrilled!"
next Saturday morning in walks Howard to
purchase an ice cream cone. He put down a $20
bill on the counter (which would have taken
all my change first thing in the morning) so I
told him the cone was on me, and he said,
“then dinner is on ME”. I had
gone through a horrible divorce and didn’t
really date much. I spent all my time
working, being with family, and raising Ray. But
we ended up going out a few weeks after that and
saw each other constantly after that
first date," Barbara said.
One of the
three Florida Carvel stores that
family partnered to run.
Barbara Neu with company Founder Tom Carvel.
from a Miami Herald story about
making an ice cream cake for Pope John Paul 11.
and Barbara Neu on their Wedding Day
with son (and future business partner) Ray.
forward two years with lots of ups and downs of
dating with a small child. Howard was
great with Ray and he had two grown daughters of
his own, Carol and Wendy, from a
previous marriage. Howard said that Ray,
who was five years old when we got married,
was a bonus and he had always wanted a son.
Ray’s biological Father had moved away right
after our divorce."
marriage to Howard wasn't the only big change in
Barbara's life. "My family eventually
started selling the Carvel Stores as it was hard
to keep up the 7 days a week grind and we
were open 12 hours a day," Barbara
said. "After we sold the last store, my
parents retired, my brother became a Commercial
Pilot and I was hired by Anne Klein Watches
as a Merchandiser and traveled every day to
stores included Burdines, Macys, Bloomingdales,
Lord & Taylor, Dillards and Neiman
Marcus. It was a great job on the road
and handling 12 malls. My favorite part
about my job was the greeting I would get from
the staff at every store from the sales help to
the Store Manager. I also made my own schedule
which meant I could be room Mom at Ray’s
school and as he got older never miss any of his
entire state of Florida and had
merchandisers from each city report to me.
I was able to travel through Florida overseeing
their work and even had Howard & Ray come
along sometimes as we could make our own hours.
I traveled to New York several times where the
headquarters for Anne Klein was located.
They would teach us about the new watch lines
and how they wanted them merchandised and then I
would return back to Florida and meet up with
each merchandiser in their territory to train
them. I enjoyed the travel, and got to
learn so much about the different areas of
Florida," Barbara recalled.
Domain Industry Career Begins
Howard made the connection that would
eventually land both he and Barbara in
the domain business. "Howard met Rick
Schwartz on a cruise and became his
attorney," Barbara said.
"A few years later they started
thinking about putting on a domain
conference and they decided to call
it T.R.A.F.F.I.C. None of us had
ever been in the conference business.
They asked me to work at the
Registration Desk and I immediately
was wonderful greeting and meeting
everyone in the domain world that
attended. My job was to give them
their badge, event program, and welcome
bag. I tried my best to make sure
everyone would feel at home and
comfortable and help them with whatever
they needed. No one really knew
anyone at that time."
Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard
at their 1st show in Delray Beach,
Florida - October 2004
show in 2004 featured the actor and financier
Ben Stein as a Keynote Speaker,"
Barbara continued. "Howard
and I picked him up at the airport and brought
him to the Delray Beach Marriott Hotel.
It was quite interesting meeting him and hearing
his stories. He was terrific greeting
everyone as we arrived at the hotel."
were so many terrific shows through the years and so
many great Keynote Speakers. Rick and Howard were very
busy putting on three shows a year from the Venetian
Hotel in Las Vegas, Marriott Brooklyn
Bridge in New York, the Marriott Santa
Clara in California, the Diplomat in Hollywood,
Florida, the Bellagio in Las Vegas,
the Grand Floridian in Orlando and many
more. Steve Forbes (of Forbes
Magazine fame, as well as former U.S.
Presidential candidate), was one of my favorite
speakers. We had a reserved seat for him at the
Head Table and he looked over at Diana Jackson &
I and saw an empty seat at our table and said,
“Gentlemen, I want to sit over there!”
Diana and I had a delightful evening chatting with
to right): Barbara Neu, Keynote Speaker Steve
Diana Jackson at the 2007 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East
conference in Hollywood, Florida.
one of my favorite speakers was Barbara Corcoran
(a star of ABC-TV's Shark Tank) who spoke
at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York in Brooklyn. She was an
incredible businesswoman and knew how to work the
room," Barbara said.
2014, Rick decided he wanted to retire so the last show
was at the famous Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami's
South Beach. It was over Halloween Weekend so
it was really special when everyone showed up in so many
amazing costumes. Rick came up with giving prizes
for the best costume and everyone really out did
themselves. Ron & Diana Jackson (photo
below) won 1st
place for their costumes that Diana hand made. She
actually had lights in her wings, and when they went in
the packed lobby after the Masquerade Ball, people were
stopping them to get their photographs taken with them.
was the last T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Show and it was really
special. Michael and Judi Berkens came as Cruella
Deville and her Puppy - they were priceless, not to
mention that they even had Romeo and Juliet
(their adorable Yorkies) with them.
to right): Judi & Michael Berkens with .CLUB
CMO Jeff Sass at a Halloween Costume Ball that
was part of the final T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference -
a 10th Anniversary show in Miami Beach (Oct. 31,
all of those years my job remained working the
registration desk and taking pictures. I have
taken tens of thousands of photographs of so many
attendees, exhibitors, and speakers through the
years. It was a fabulous 10 years and so many conferences.
The best part was all the friends and business
associates we met all because of that first conference
and their idea to bring everyone together,"
of THE Domain Conference
and Howard thought long and hard about what they wanted
to do now that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. had ended its remarkable
decade. A big part of the decision to go forward with
their own new show - THE Domain Conference - was the
role their son could play in it. "Ray had just graduated
from high school when T.R.A.F.F.I.C. started in 2004,"
Barbara noted. "He was 18 years old and enjoyed
attending every single show. Ten years later, he was a big
reason that we decided to pick up the mantle and go
forward. People started reaching out to us asking
whether or not we were going to continue. We all thought
about it, and thought about it, and decided to do it."
Barbara and Ray Neu at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel
in Fort Lauderdale
before they their debut edition of THE Domain
Conference began there in September 2015.
really enjoyed working together so why not just put on one
show a year and keep it in Ft. Lauderdale where
we live. The name T.R.A.F.F.I.C. was confusing to people
so we decided to call it what it was – THE Domain
Conference. The main thing we knew from all the comments
we had been hearing was to keep it more affordable.
For me, my favorite part about the Conference business
is that we can do it as a family. Howard is a
lawyer and never brought his work home with him. It is
great to be able to work together and enjoy the planning
is a huge part of the Conference, and always has been.
He worked with the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conferences that ran
in Milan, Vancouver and Ireland and
has made so many friends through the last 10 years and
learned so much through all the experiences. We
have now even brought in my 88-year-old Mom who
is a recent widow and she helps me at registration and
enjoys every minute of it (by the way, she is even on Facebook!),"
Mom Millie cutting a rug with Eddie Sixto at the final
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in 2014. When the Neu
family launched THE Domain Conference last year
Millie was back too, helping Barbara at the registration
worked very hard trying to find the perfect venue.
Our mission was to find a hotel that was more affordable
for everyone. After weeks of site visits we found
our perfect home – The Hyatt Pier 66 Hotel, in
Ft. Lauderdale - located just 3 miles from the airport.
The staff was eager for our business and quoted us a $109
room rate and there were no extra costs for
resort fees or Internet. That sealed the deal for
from the top of THE Domain Conference's venue in Fort
Lauderdale, Florida - the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel.
next thing we did for our 2015 debut was schedule
a meeting with Colin Campbell and Jeff Sass
from .CLUB. We spoke to them about being our
Premier Sponsor and they agreed, especially because we
would be in their own back yard with their offices in
Ft. Lauderdale. It was terrific for them to bring a huge
part of their staff to the show. The show ran for 5
days starting with two Cabana Networking days starting
on Saturday & Sunday (as well as a special edition
of DOMAINfest at THE Domain Conference staged by Jothan
Frakes on Saturday). .CLUB put up yard signs
throughout the amazing property that has all kind of
games around the pool area and we reserved the cabanas
and a private pool just for our attendees. The busy
conference schedule started with an Opening Night
Cocktail Party located in the revolving Pier Top room
followed by two full days of sessions, speakers, and
awards. We ended with a Farewell Breakfast on
Wednesday morning and will follow the same format this
year. It is very full and hectic week but also
goes by so fast!"
is especially excited about one new addition to
their 2016 conference weekend. "Ray came up with an
idea to have a STARTUP Saturday on the first day
of our Cabana Networking (September 10, 2016). He
thought that there are so many people who want to start
a business or want to take their existing business
to a new level that we could help them by bringing in
investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders to learn
from. Morgan Linton from Fashion Metric
and Brett Napoli from Ambition Insight will
be the two main speakers at the one day event. Ray
has a line up of additional speakers that he is choosing
to educate everyone who has a dream," Barbara
& Barbara Neu at a business function in the
Fort Lauderdale Convention Center where they
promoted the upcoming 2016 edition of THE Domain
Conference and their first Startup Saturday
event that will be held September 10, 2016 at the
Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.
goal for our 2016 conference, Sept 10th-14th, is to be all
about our attendees becoming more successful,
networking, and just having a great time at the Hyatt
Pier 66. The hotel was smart enough last year to keep
the lobby bar open way past their closing hours because
of all the attendees staying up all hours spending time
together! We always have newbies attending our show and
it is so rewarding when they are leaving the Farewell
Breakfast and thank us for opening their minds to so
many new ideas," Barbara said.
to R) Howard, Barbara and Ray Neu at the Farewell
Breakfast that concluded the
debut edition of THE Domain Conference in Fort
Lauderdale, Florida (September 30, 2015).
Barbara loves helping stage THE Domain Conference she
admits to one downside. "When the Conference is
over I usually lose my voice," she laughed. "It happens every year. It takes me a week or so to
recover and go through all my photos that I have taken.
It puts a big smile on my face as I see everyone
together trying to build their business and educate each
other on their personal experiences. It is a
great bunch of people and we have made some lifelong
friends because of it. Life is good when you are happy
with your job – and if you love what you do, you
don’t really work a day in your life,' Barbara
Begins at Home (Unless You Happen to Be at Sea!)
busy as she is with the conference Barbara make
sure there is still time for what remains her
top priority - her family. "Howard & I
love to travel and our favorite trip is a cruise.
A cruise is a real vacation with no worries and
we just finished a great one, sailing through
the Panama Canal to celebrate our 25th
have taken many family cruises with my family
and with my extended family. Howard has
two amazing Daughters, Carol, who lives in
Colorado and Wendy and Son-In-Law Ira,
who live right in our neighborhood. Plus, Four
terrific Grandchildren: Brandon and
Brian who live just 5 minutes from us and
Chad and Alexa who live in
Colorado with their Mom. We were at all
three of their High School Graduations and the
only one left now is Alexa who is 16."
are even friendly with Howard’s former wife Ellie
and we celebrate many holidays together and have
even taken vacations together as one big family.
For anyone who hasn't been on a family cruise -
try it! – I’m sure you won’t be
& Barbara Neu celebrating their 25th Wedding
Anniversary this summer during a Panama Canal
cruise. This shot was taken on one of their shore
|disappointed and there
is nothing like making new memories.
That’s what life is all about."
from Barbara's Family Cruise with mother Millie seated
in the center.
said, "My Dad passed away so we do our best to keep
my Mom very busy and a huge part of our lives. It is
tough on her when you lose your Soul Mate of 67 years.
We enjoy going through old photographs and
watching videos of Holidays and Vacations.
It is wonderful that we are able to live so many
memories through photos."
Neu and her Mom & Dad, Millie and Vito,
are at the center of this photo from Christmas 2010.
My brother and his
wife, Mary live in Ft. Pierce and we see
them as much as we can. He has a daughter Nikki
who has 2 adorable boys, Cody and Ben; and
their “Momo” Carol. I try very hard to be
available to anyone of them whenever they need me, and
of course I always have my camera with me to capture the
moment!," Barbara smiled.
also makes time to help out in her community. "I
like to volunteer and try to when I can. A good
friend of mine, Susan Gross, is very involved
with The Harvest Drive, a non-profit organization
that provides food and assists families through the Broward
County Schools. People donate all kinds of
items through the year and she stores it all in her huge
garage. In November her team of worker bees take
over a school cafeteria for several days to offer the
goods to less fortunate families in the community.
It is wonderful watching their faces as we allow them to
go through the cafeteria and pick and choose whatever
clothing, shoes, toys, books, appliances, bedding, and
even holiday decorations that their family would like.
After the event they pass on any remaining items to
other local charities," Barbara said.
and fellow volunteers celebrate another year of
Broward County families through The Harvest Drive.
also reserves time to spend with a special circle
of friends. "I play a dice game called Bunko.
There are 12 women from our neighborhood that host a
dinner and game in their home once a year. I have
been playing for 21 years with pretty much the
same 12 women! We even have a sub list in case one
of the ladies can’t make it one month – and the subs
look forward to being asked to join us. We have
all been through so much together sharing our family
stories. It is a great opportunity to meet with
neighbors and be there to share all the happy times and
also support each other during the sad times."
Bunko squad - still going strong after 21 years!
closing Barbara added, "
I would just like to take this opportunity to Thank
EVERYONE who has come to any one of our Conferences
and has been a part of our family. There
has been so many shows through the years and I really
appreciate everyone who has taken the time away from
their jobs and families to attend. I
can’t imagine how many people I have registered
since it all began in 2004!" Barbara smiled.
Neu at the Registration Desk for the 2010
South Beach conference at the Loews Hotel on Miami
the number is you can bet Barbara did everything
possible to send each of her guests home with a new circle of
industry friends - a quality that has left hundreds
of people indebted to the matchmaker made in