Meet the Team

Eric de Groot, Managing General Partner
Executive Biography

Eric de Groot is the Founder and Managing General Partner of Mini America, a new company based in Atlanta, Georgia where America comes alive in miniature and visitors will be inspired to become entrepreneurs to improve their own lives and stimulate the American economy. De Groot, a global educator and entrepreneur brings with him more than 27 years of international business, marketing (concepts & IP) and product development experience.

Topics of Expertise

  • Business Development
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Conceptual Designs
  • Entertainment Industry
  • Professional Speaker
  • Global Mindset
  • Multi-Lingual

Mini America is the brainchild of Mr. de Groot, who is the primary strategist and creative power behind this venture. He works closely with an experienced and highly qualified leadership team made up of seasoned industry and business professionals located across the USA as well as abroad.

De Groot is recognized as a valuable multi-lingual resource for business, individuals and the public sector, in the areas of sourcing, marketing and business development. He is the founder of the Holland America Chamber, which is focused on economic development and foreign direct investment.

In 2009 he was honored by the Georgia Legislature through House Resolution 211 (HR 211), commending him for his contributions on behalf of industry, trade and tourism, and recognizing him as an international liaison to the State of Georgia. And in 2011, HR 743 recognized and supported Mini America Park as an educational and environmental green initiative in Georgia.

For almost three decades De Groot has been active in the community serving on many Boards and Committees, including for the City of Atlanta, the City of Sandy Springs and in 2012 as President of the Riverwood International Charter School Foundation. Early on in his career, Eric worked as the managing director for a Dutch subsidiary, a daughter of multinational Elsevier bv in Atlanta, Georgia and worked with Fortune 500 companies and in the international arena.

 

Maarten Kuik

As the managing partner of Euram Investment Group, Maarten Kuik has 25 years of experience in all aspects of real estate development. Today, in addition to overseeing its legal, financial, administrative and commercial activities, he manages the company's real estate portfolio which consists of development and investment properties in five different states. Maarten also maintains Euram's connection with several Dutch investment partners.

He began his career in the U.S. by taking on an apprenticeship with an Atlanta-based law firm while also working in a liaison position between U.S. and European owners and investors for K&L Advisory Company, the predecessor of Euram Investment Group. His career continued down that path which led to a move back to Netherlands where he managed operations for Sunclass Bungalows B.V., a resort development company with operations in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands Antilles. Maarten moved back to the U.S. in the late 80’s to run Euram Investment Group. He earned a Masters degree in Dutch Law from the State University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Ken R. Fuller

Ken is native to Atlanta with an Industrial Design degree from Georgia Tech. As a Disney Imagineer he led the creation of retail shops in Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Tokyo while managing the design of Epcot’s retail venues. Among Ken’s design creations are the Isleworth Club interiors for Arnold Palmer, development of the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center and the Disney Stores worldwide.

Focuses unique experience with the Walt Disney Company, Starbucks, Limited Brands, Home Depot, Marriott, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, to provide design and construction management.

Specialties:
 • Concept design for retail and hospitality
• Project Design Management
• Watercolor painting and illustration
• Sailboat and yacht painting capturing the light and color of the sea.

Robert Aldrich

Rob Aldrich brings valuable experience in the field of finance and real estate such as asset and property management, financial projections, partnership relations, banking and funding and risk management. Mr. Aldrich has eighteen years experience in Commercial Office and Retail Property, Asset and Fund Management in the US and Canada. Operational experience from the ground up. He has acquisition, disposition experience in most major East Coast markets. Portfolio Management expertise including entity level management, strategic tax planning, cash flow optimization, financing insurance risk management. 10 years experience working with German/European banking and investment firms.

Lance Carlson

Lance Carlson is a practicing architect working in his own firm, Carlson & Mosley Architects, in Atlanta, Georgia. He has studied painting, drawing and collage among other creative pursuits with a renewed enthusiasm for the past several years. The freedom and control that avails itself in art, can be elusive in architecture. As he continues to develop skills in 2-dimensional works, he expects to transfer some of the same ideals into architecture.

John P. Bevilaqua

John has spent over 25 years in marketing, communications, public relations, special events and sports marketing. He began his career with Coca-Cola USA and served as National Sports Marketing Manager and 1984 Olympic Project Manager. In 1983 John was “loaned” to the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee where he served as Director of Corporate Relations, Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Communications managing a wide variety of external relations activities.

Upon returning to Atlanta in the Fall of 1984, John founded Bevilaqua International, Inc. and for the ensuing 12 years consulted to corporations and special events such as: 1986 Goodwill Games (Moscow); 1986 (Soccer) World Cup (Mexico City); 1992 Olympic Games (Barcelona); 1996 Olympic Games (Atlanta); 1996 Paralympic Games and other international events. His agency also provided marketing counsel to a variety of corporations including: 3M Corp, York International, IBM, Coca-Cola, EDS, Chase Manhattan Bank, Turner Broadcasting, First Union Bank, Gulfstream, AT&T and others.

Since 1994 John has served as President and CEO of Creative Marketing Strategies headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Bevilaqua has created a variety of strategic communications programs and platforms for a wide range of clients. Integration of new technologies and events coupled with traditional strategic marketing counsel has been the hallmark of John’s most recent professional development.

Donna L. Wise

Senior level marketing consultant based in Atlanta, GA specialized in developing and implementing research-based strategic marketing programs for measurable business growth.  I have helped companies of all sizes across many industries in areas such as market research strategy and insight development, marketing plan development, contact database development strategy, market segmentation, targeted and direct marketing programs and return on marketing investment projections.
Master of Science / GSU, Bachelor of Science / GU

Viren Mayani

Viren Mayani is a global thought leader & significant knowledge worker, has a multi-national & multi-industrial, 20+ year executive mgmt, career experience with media, IT, real estate, retail & government org. He is also a Partner with a 60 year, Family Business of: Import-Export, trading of Burlap (Jute) goods, manufacturing of tarpaulins, construction & lease-mgmt of real estate; through offices in India & agents in East Asia, Gulf & Africa. His references speak of his accumulated entrepreneurial prowess, in addition to his diverse background, academic excellence, career expertise and community service.

Reinhardt (Rik) Carlson

Reinhardt (Rik) Carlson is a major airline pilot and has been in the Airline Industry for over 40 years. As a flight operations line pilot, he flies domestic and international schedules for a number of well-known airlines. He has also served as a consultant in the airline industry. As a pilot he brings unique skills to the organization, in terms of planning operations for the MINI AMERICA Park both above and below ground. He has an affection for all planes, ships large and small and is a miniature enthusiast, creating many models in the process. He is involved in Research and Development and serves on the Miniatures and Models Committee.

LaVay Sheldon

Mr. Sheldon has experience in a variety of industries such as communication, advertising, creative design, retail and wholesale computer industry and association management, where he has served as Director of Operations and Special Projects. He was the News Director of Radio Victoria in Aruba and was a producer for World Religious News. Mr. Sheldon is a miniature railroad enthusiast who has visited Madurodam in the Netherlands many times and has spent hundreds of hours researching miniature parks over the past decade.

Eli Pele

Eli Pelehas 20 years of experience in education as a college executive manager in Israel. Mr. Pele has experience in working with all age groups while assimilating educational programs created by the Tomashin College of creative educationin Jewish and Arab schools all over Israel. He has acted as Executive Manager of a college of 120 teachers and spent 5 years in a successful management position resulting in a 90% growth of schools joining the creative educational programs and as a teacher of “creative thinking”- One of the educational programs of the college.