When George Martin, Managing General Partner for the law firm of Borton, Petrini & Conron, started the Bakersfield Business Conference in 1985, it was difficult to even convince speakers or their agents to return his calls. Today, 18 years later, the Conference boasts of featuring among its speakers former presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and George Bush; world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Schmidt; national heroes Neil Armstrong, Norman Schwarzkopf, and Colin Powell; trusted newsmen Mike Wallace, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw; and media personalities Rush Limbaugh and Paul Harvey; and sports heroes Evander Hollyfield, Joe Montana, and Mary Lou Retton.
How did the Bakersfield Business Conference become the international platform it is today?
Like many great accomplishments, it all started modestly enough …
In 1985, the law firm of Borton, Petrini & Conron , whose home office is in Bakersfield, California, decided to host a business and finance conference. The first Conference’s speakers included several of the law firm’s partners as well as a number of local businessmen. However, even the first year featured nationally-known speakers: Pulitzer-Prize winning author Jack Nelson, nationally syndicated columnist Mark Stevens, and comedian Pat Paulsen enlightened and entertained a crowd of 250 attendees.
The 1985 Conference was such a hit that Borton, Petrini & Conron decided to do it again, and as each year brought an increasingly successful Conference, George Martin no longer had trouble getting his calls returned; in fact, the speakers themselves were so impressed with the Conference that they made sure the speakers’ bureaus knew that something important was happening in Bakersfield.
After that, as they say, the rest is history. Each year presented a more distinguished speaker lineup, a greater number of attendees, and a more lavish setting for all of the honored speakers and guests. By 1992, the Conference had outgrown its first location at Stockdale Country Club and moved to the spacious grounds of California State University, Bakersfield.
The Bakersfield Business Conference has evolved into a much acclaimed world-class event. Over 9,000 people now attend the Conference for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and hear many of the greatest men and women of the 20th century.
The speakers are not all that make the Bakersfield Business Conference a memorable event. Along with the best in speakers, the Conference offers the best in entertainment. Stars of the music world Reba McEntire, Burt Bacharach & Dionne Warwick, and Sheena Easton have captivated Conference audiences in recent years. No Conference is complete unless celebrated comedians like Mark Russell, Jay Leno, Phyllis Diller–or the legendary Bob Hope–have brought laughter to the “big tent.” Conference-goers are always treated to a delicious barbecue, as well as all the ice cream, fresh fruit, and other refreshments they can eat. A Sports Tent, Beer Garden, fireworks display, dancing under the stars, and a host of other activities gives guests more to do than can be imagined