The Big Idea: Popping up amazing spaces with skilled labour

In his creative career Robert Megeney has constructed innovative installations with luxury brands and agencies across North America.

As president of the Montreal-based Event Labour Works for over 20 years, Megeney’s event install staff have been known to take a space from tumbleweeds to total luxury for big-name clients. So when the whole family made the move out west to Pemberton four years ago, Megeney wanted to take his experience and do something more local —starting his second company, Event Rental Works, to serve the Sea to Sky corridor.

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While the festivals, events and weddings market in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton continues to expand, Megeney is developing a team that can rise to meet the demand. As he constructs remarkable spaces for special events like the Squamish Valley Music Festival and the Pemberton Music Festival, the Oyster Festival and IRONMAN Canada he is simultaneously building a local labour force with extensive event expertise.

Leading the way with local supplies

As Megeney watched the corridor’s event calendar grow increasingly busy and the number of high-end weddings rise rapidly, he noticed that this expanding market was giving rise to a big local opportunity.  

“I was impressed with the growth the Sea to Sky corridor was experiencing in regards to festivals and weddings. I also noticed that most of the rental products involved in these events were transported up from Vancouver. I saw no reason why we could not service these events locally,” Megeney said.

Rather than compete with established local suppliers he focused on fashioning unique installations and forming experiential spaces with new products and decor that align with the VIP areas of events and high-end weddings. Giving event producers access to these innovative choices at a local level means Megeney can also work in partnership with other local event planners and suppliers. It is Megeney’s outlook that keeping things local and fosters partnership as opposed to competition. That means, “the event players can play well together,” he said.

Big opportunities for local labour

As the frequency and calibre of events climb, so does the opportunity for Megeney to train a local team that measures up. He is constructing a local labour force with the install expertise to support the tenting and event needs of the world-class events that Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton now host.

“The majority of the skills involved within the tenting, flooring and staging arena can be learned through focused training and then solidified through onsite supervision,” Megeney said.

The local expertise Event Rental Works is building creates opportunities for his labour force outside the Sea to Sky as well. Event Labour Works, their sister company in Montreal, sends teams to work on events across the continent. The possibilities are exciting, with work on iconic events like the Superbowl, Formula 1, PGA, USTA and the Pan Am games. The training this team is learning locally all of a sudden opens up some incredible doors.

Brighter futures with Blade Runners

Because building local expertise and leadership matters so much to Megeney, this spring he collaborated with ACCESS (Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society). ACCESS delivers education, training, counselling, support and financial services in an effort to increase aboriginal participation in the labour market. Via their Blade Runners program — which helps at-risk youth build careers in the construction industry — Event Rental Works created a tent and event install training course.

“A dozen individuals between 15 and 30 years old were involved in a week-long training program (in March 2015) which included marquee, frame, clear span and stretch tent installation training,” said Megeney of the collaboration. “It also included flooring and staging install training as well as product transport and handling workshops.”

Megeney’s work is arming youth with the expertise, support and motivation to succeed in this industry. It’s a win-win initiative — boosting his business with well-trained workers while making an important impact in his community as a whole.

Megeney on expanding the opportunities for his team

“One of the greatest bonuses of the training that our team is receiving is that it is not only useful for local projects, but is transferable to event install opportunities throughout Canada and the United States.”

Make business easy — tune into The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

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