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FSA Management Group

A conversation with Tony Butler, owner and president of FSA Management Group

By Rachel Reynolds

Louisville stands for all things bourbon, and there’s nothing quite like the Bourbon Classic to expose the uninitiated to everything the bourbon lifestyle has to offer.

“Our Bourbon Classic event is definitely homegrown,” says Tony Butler, president of FSA Management Group, which owns the event. “We started it eight years ago and were on the front end of the bourbon trend.”

The 2020 Bourbon Classic is scheduled for February 28-29 at the Henry Clay building downtown. Only a few tickets remain for the Friday/Saturday event and can be purchased online.  Festivities include a cocktail competition, bourbon sampling, classes, featured chefs, hors d’oeuvres and mingling.

“I anticipate that we’ll sell out,” Butler says of the entire event, adding that it is expected to attract more than 700 people each evening.

Butler has owned FSA Management for 11 years and has worked there for more than 20 years. FSA’s core business is association management, counting among its clients the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management, the Association of Healthcare Administrative Professionals, the American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers and others. FSA offers a full suite of services that are customizable to clients including event and trade show management/production, marketing, financial and membership management. Its clients are spread out locally and across the country, including on the East and West Coasts.

“We’d really like to grow our event portfolio in the next five years,” Butler says, adding that he’s interested in doing more work in the Metro Louisville area. “Of course, we’re always interested in more clients and more projects.”

Butler says he loves the work he does, and he loves doing it in Louisville.

“Every day is a little bit different,” he says. “Coming in when it’s windy on a plane last night from Los Angeles wasn’t my favorite, but there are a lot of great days.”

Prior to working at FSA, Butler ran Louisville Gardens, the iconic 6,000-seat concert and sporting venue downtown. So, you could say that event planning and genuine hospitality are part of Butler’s DNA.

He’s also a huge booster of Louisville as a community, saying it’s a great place to own a business. Butler has long been a member of the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA), and he believes that independent, one-of-a-kind businesses help Louisville flourish.

“I’ve been here my entire professional career and I’ve met many exceptional people,” Butler says. “We’re kind of a small city with big city ideas. Louisville presents a lot of opportunity that you might not be able to access in a larger city. It’s a very livable place.”

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