Casually dressed in designer jeans and sport coats, Andy McCreath and Christian Darbyshire take a seat in a coffee shop in Calgary’s trendy Mission district. Twice a day, the two pals show up, BlackBerries in hand, to place calls, set up sponsorships and produce events that include such speakers as Tony Blair, Rudy Giuliani and Alan Greenspan. “Two coffees a day is cheaper than renting an office,” McCreath quips in a dry tone, before attacking the idea of office space. “It doesn’t fit with the way we operate.” Indeed, in the summer the brash buds might be found chilling by a pool, sipping a beverage, as they cajole an A-list speaker to an event in Toronto, Calgary or Montreal. “We’ve brought Bill Clinton to more cities in Canada than anyone else and we’re the first people to bring in Tony Blair,” Darbyshire remarks.
The biz partners emerged onto the scene in 2005, eager to apply their previous work experience to event promotion – McCreath cut his teeth as a hockey agent; Darbyshire as a publicist. To date, the pair has organized over 30 education-styled events, each attracting thousands of people. “We think big and we’re aggressive,” McCreath says. Success stems from a long history of cooperation. Chums since age 12, McCreath and Darbyshire grew up in the same Calgary cul-de-sac and even now, they seldom squabble.
Smooth-talking and savvy, Darbyshire takes on the public relations work, while McCreath, a nononsense hard ass, oversees operations.
The next speaker they plan to bag is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has already rejected a speaking gig on three occasions. “This last time his people sent us back an e-mail saying ‘No,’ ” Darbyshire smirks. “That was a mistake because now we have a direct phone number we can use to get him.”
The Rotary Club
Volunteer, Diana Krall