River City Events is an event management and rental company in Edmonton specializing in:
- Rentals – We can provide all event rentals required to fully support any special event.
- Planning – We can walk you through every step of your special event.
- Design – Our designers research and integrate the latest trends and styles.
- Tents – Our wide selection of styles and sizes means you can celebrate anytime.
As Edmonton’s top-rated, full-service events company, River City Events has partnered with our clients to provide personalized solutions for events since 2007. From intimate private affairs to large corporate events to weddings, we have the massive inventory and expertise to make any event spectacular.
Our values are:
- Personalization – We focus on clients’ needs.
- Teamwork & Collaboration – We leverage collective genius.
- Integrity – We are genuine in all our interactions and partnerships.
- Quality – What we do, we do well.
- Community – We strengthen bonds between neighbours.
- Sustainability – We take care of our home.
Our mission is to make your event spectacular.
Tell us about yourself?
After pouring my heart into the events industry for 20 years as an employee for another organization, I was discouraged by my experience and was ready to move on to a new career. Consequently, when I received a phone call from a previous client asking me to take on a huge event, I informed them that I was out of the game.
But the client kept calling.
They were insistent I was the man for the job, and they needed my help. I was so moved by the client’s appeal; I decided to take the gig on as an independent contractor.
Only one problem:
I had absolutely no inventory, and I needed about $60,000 of it.
With no other options, I went knocking on the doors of one of my old suppliers to ask for a favour. Undoubtedly, it was a long shot, and I knew it. I asked my old friend if I could borrow the inventory and pay him after the gig, and before I could even name the value of the order, the supplier accepted.
The event ended up being a knockout success. I paid the supplier back, and now I had a garage chock full of event rentals. Embracing the momentum, I decided to start a company of my own.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I know it’s cliché, but my advice to myself would be to smell the roses. As you can imagine, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the rental industry particularly hard, and I realized how quickly everything I had spent the last 15 years building nearly collapsed. That made me realize I needed to reprioritize.
For me, what is most important in life is the meaningful connections…my family, staff, clients, and partners. When I look back over the past 15 years, that’s what stands out most. I have a newfound appreciation for events and the memories and bonds that they forge. I make sure to take those moments and connections in and give them the appreciation and attention they deserve.
What problem does your business solve?
We ensure that every last critical detail of your event is covered because we know that one missing rental, overlooked consideration, or blown cue can derail your results.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
My dad was a first-generation immigrant from Lebanon, but I was born in Edmonton. He loved the city and soon opened a grocery store, which he used to benefit the community in any way he could. He got to know everyone and provided sponsorships to charities, community teams…you name it. It gave me a love for community, which is why I love events so much.
I have seen firsthand the impact of engaging events that bring communities together, especially when it’s a new experience. For whatever reason, when you’re doing something new, I find that it’s a catalyst for forming strong bonds with people you might have called strangers a day earlier or a way to cement lasting memories with people you already know and love. And the great thing is that community events are typically designed for people of all ages and walks of life—not from any single demographic. It’s an opportunity for people who might not know each other well to come together and build a community.
What is your magic sauce?
You are not a client. You are a partner.
For us, it’s not about moving rentals in and out of our shop. We supply what you really need with precision because we care about the success of your event. That means we work with you up close and personal to match your event with the best products and pricing.
Since 2007, we have accumulated the massive inventory, operations, and experienced designers necessary to set these expectations. It’s why we’re Edmonton’s top-rated full-service event company, trusted by big brands, small businesses, and individuals alike.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Speaking candidly, one of the issues we’re currently dealing with is the debt we had to incur to keep the lights on during Covid-19. Consequently, my goal in the next five years is to achieve financial independence, so we can truly move on from the pandemic. Looking forward, we want to expand our offerings into sales, as well as expand to different markets throughout Alberta and Canada.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
By 2019, we were doing great. We had moved into a 66,000-square-foot facility, acquired a major competitor in Big Top Tent Rentals, and employed over 80 staff. Things were going swimmingly.
Enter the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overnight, River City Events lost 100 per cent of its revenue, and I returned every last deposit to my customers. I was forced to make the difficult decision to lay off staff one by one until I was alone—one man in a massive building.
It was an extremely difficult time emotionally. There were times I thought I was going to have to call it a day. But the community saved us. Our amazing employees volunteered to do odd jobs during the lockdown days to keep us afloat, just barely. Our partners gave us as much work as they could, which was about five per cent of what we did in 2019. Somehow, we made it through.
2022 has been a massive comeback. In some ways, the events industry has been forever changed by the pandemic. There is more apprehension and perceived risk when it comes to live events in general, and the rapid shift to digital during Covid-19 has transformed the way business is conducted and acquired.
However, an influx of returning clientele, partners, experienced staff, and a renewed emphasis on online business has seen River City Events leap into recovery. We’re a leaner operation now with about 50 employees, but we’re eager to meet a pent-up demand for live events.
It’s an exciting time. The truth is Edmonton is coming alive again with events and celebrations like we haven’t seen for years.
How can people get involved?
Browse our online catalogue at www.rivercityevents.ca, or call 780-424-6001 to speak with our experienced client care team.