On September 12, 2021, a wedding took place in the ONYX Room at the Diamond Center at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan. Battery and electric vehicle (EV) engineers and industry experts will recognize that Novi address as home to The Battery Show and Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technology Expo that takes place yearly at the sprawling exhibition center. Weddings aren’t all that unusual at the Diamond Center, but this one, in particular, was significant to those who are regular Battery Show attendees.
“We initially met at the 2018 show while I was the room chair and Gerald was a presenter in the ONYX room where he saw me as he was checking out the location and wanted to know room logistics,” said Leslie Kilgore who, at the time was the Vice President of Engineering at Thomas Built Buses (a part of Daimler Trucks) and was volunteering as part of The Battery Show advisory board.
“It was a very brief meeting, and was completely professional,” said Kilgore. “We saw one another again in the infamous PEARL room where speakers and Advisory Board members gather and get information.” Gerald Best, who at the time was Vice President of Digital Manufacturing - Industrial IOT at Aunalytics was also on the Advisory Board. “In the Pearl, I actually thought he was following me,” said Kilgore.
A Bit More
The pair did exchange business cards as Kilgore had found his presentation had been of professional interest to her. But there was a bit more. “I was living in North Carolina and he has family there so there was a brief discussion about North Carolina and how frequently he visits the state. Professionally, I said, 'let me know when you are in the area',” said Kilgore.
That might have been the end of any spark, except that Kilgore posted a podcast on LinkedIn that grabbed Best’s attention. Kilgore explains: “The connection again happened on a more interesting level when I had an article posted on LinkedIn. He watched the podcast but also noticed we had a really good friend in common. Gerald reached out to the friend and we connected on a more direct level outside of LinkedIn!”
The distance between North Carolina, where Kilgore lived, and Indiana where Best lived and worked was a bit of an obstacle at first. “FaceTime and Google Duo video platforms aided our relationship development,” said Kilgore. But she knew that the relationship was getting serious. “Gerald is an amazing technology wiz and so both of us being in engineering and technology, we share so many interests and he’s been able to teach me and vice versa. Also, we enjoy so many similar health, wellness, and lifestyle activities it’s been nice to have so many areas of our lives connected.”
Targeting the Date and Time, and Place
The couple decided that they should get married at the exact date, time, and location where that first interaction occurred which was September 12, 2018, at 2 pm. It had been a Wednesday in 2018, and happily, September 12, 2021, would be a Sunday. The die was cast. The wedding started at 2 pm September 12, 2021, exactly three years to the minute, and in exactly the same place, the Onyx Room, where they first met.
“We made it happen with the amazing people from the Battery Show planning committee who allowed us to have a few of the rooms for our wedding weekend,” said Kilgore.
“I absolutely love making her smile and to see her laugh brings joy to my heart knowing we get to spend the rest of our lives together,” said Best. To make their lives easier, Kilgore relocated to the Midwest, taking a job as Vice President of New Product Development at Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Best has also changed jobs and is now Senior Director Government Operations at SIMBA Chain.
As they are settling into life as a married couple," Leslie Kilgore is becoming Leslie Best. “I have taken the traditional route and changed my name to Leslie Best, she said. “It’s a long process to change your name so I’m in transition.”
It’s fair to say that most attendees at The Battery Show come away feeling like they have gained something. For the new Mr. and Mrs. Best, that chance meeting three years ago before the start of a technical session was the beginning of a new life together.
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.