Sept. 10, 2006 – Collin Hodge makes no apologies; he is what he is. Take it or leave it.
When it comes to event promotions and planning, he's got the Midas touch, and like his nickname, Massive, just keeps on getting better at whatever he sets his sights on.
At 37, Hodge has amassed a resume of someone twice his age. He is owner of Stepping Up Productions, a home-based company doing business as Massive Productions. He explained that whenever he advertised an event, he would describe it as "massive" and it soon became synonymous with the name, Collin Hodge.
When Hodge is not working at his full-time job as director of marketing at Isle 95-WJKC, he is as ubiquitous as his promotions/planning company.
Over the years he has worked in sales, marketing and promotions and has coordinated more than 300 activities throughout the territory, primarily aiding in community outreach, youth delinquency prevention and business networking, including the Business in Paradise After Hours, held every month.
He's known for his taste in fashion and sleek cars and is usually the center of attraction at Business After Hours, an event he established for young entrepreneurs and business professionals to socialize and network.
For nine years now, he's been the planner of attorney Lee Rohn's much-touted New Year's Eve bash or holding dance parties at Calabash in Christiansted, formerly Parrott's Perch. When Divi Casino opened, it was Hodge who snagged the contract to bring in entertainment acts.
Hodge said that he's been able to last as long as he has in the promotion business, which he runs from his home, because he's made adjustments as needed.
"Over the last six years I've done some re-strategizing and so the company is more focused on marketing and event planning," he said, adding that he's planned three to four parties a year for Rohn, including the well-attended New Year's Eve party complete with fireworks, well-stocked buffets, bars and entertainment like St. Croix's own world-famous Xpress band.
He credits Rohn for really putting him over the top.
He said that prior to coming to Isle-95, he worked as the business manager at Rohn's law firm. The opportunity, he said, broadened his horizon because she gave him latitude in assisting with the setup of the firm, from implementation of management information systems to developing an employee manual.
Hodge also credited his education from the University of the Virgin Islands as a stepping stone to the job with Rohn. In 1994 he received a bachelor's degree in business administration with a minor in business management. He said he actually began promoting events in college but that it soon evolved into the company that it is today.
Hodge was born in Antigua but grew up on St. Croix, where he obtained most of his education. He also has completed courses in management and hospitality.
Recently Hodge had a chance to give back to his alma mater, along with three other schools, which he said nurtured him. He gave $500 each to UVI, Central High School, Elena Christian Junior High School and Lew Muckle Elementary School.
He said he was grateful to the teachers, counselors, professors and support staff at the schools and that he hoped the contributions could be used to purchase supplies .
His generosity has not stopped there.
Hodge has also partnered with St. Croix Foundation on a number of contract projects and pledged that 30 percent of his earnings be put in a fund that now can be given to the schools.
"I firmly believe in education. Education adds a lot to what someone becomes. I fully credit them for refining me," he said of the schools.
Hodge said that he takes every opportunity to remind those he comes in contact with that education is the key.
And, he said, it is something that his mother, the late Hildred Pryce, instilled in him.
"A lot of what drives me is that we didn't have much and I always wanted," he said. "There was no asking my mom, because as a single mom, she didn't have much."
Hodge said he is the third of eight children. His mother had two sets of twins – two girls, the eldest; and two boys, the youngest.
His mother would always tell him that education and hard work was the way to get what he wanted and to go where he wanted — fast.
"I started working when I was 12 years old at Riverdale Superette," he said, adding that the name has since changed, but the convenience store across the street from the Charles Harwood Medical Complex in Estate Richmond still stands.
Hodge was in his later 20s when his mother succumbed to breast cancer after four years of battling the disease. His twin brothers were 15, and he went to then Territorial Court to seek custody, which was granted.
"They will be 24 this year," he said proudly. "I made sure I let them know that the only way to get somewhere was through education."
And Hodge was the perfect father figure.
He attended all their school events and took his mother's place at parent-teacher conferences. And, he learned a lot about money management then while making sure that there was money to give his brothers allowances or reward them for good work.
"I like the cars, the clothes – there's no doubt; but I'm more interested in long-term investment," he said.
Hodge said when asked that he doesn't think he's reached the pinnacle of success.
"The irony is I think I am so far away from achieving what I want," he said, adding that, for him, success would be seeing St. Croix thrive.
Hodge is passionate and animated when he speaks about the home that he's adopted as his own.
"In 10 years I want to be a part of the growth of St. Croix," Hodge said. "I really want to be here to see St. Croix become a mecca of the Caribbean – that's why I haven't moved. I want to see 18-year-olds who don't go to college have jobs. I want to see St. Croix as the tourist destination it could be."
With all that he stands for, Hodge said he never really thought of joining the political fray until 2002 — after his friend and mentor, Malcolm Plaskett, a former Labor and Board of Elections official, died.
He sought election to the Democratic Territorial Committee in the St. Croix District. Hodge lost that year, but Saturday's primary election proved that the second time is the charm. He placed third in the race for Territorial Committee At-Large.
He hasn't ruled out running for higher office but said there's work to be done before he ventures further.
"I want to be part of bringing back the unity to the Democratic Party, and that's why I ran," he said.
Hodge said he's received numerous acknowledgements and awards for all that he's accomplished but said that with success come challenges, usually in the form of critics.
"There is a reverse cycle when you work hard and do good," he said. "The sad thing is as you grow, so does the list of enemies and critics, and you will never see it coming because it's from people around you who you thought had your best interest at heart."
Hodge said he deals with such disappointment like his mother taught him.
"Be strong. Be focused and know yourself because you will continuously have to be defending the good that you do."
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