Peter Knapp has had little time to rest throughout his career. Raised in Owen Sound, Ontario, Knapp came to Calgary for a summer job at an oil and gas company in 1995.
Although he headed back to McMaster University at the end of the summer to finish his Bachelor of Commerce degree, he had met his future wife out here, and she motivated him to move back to Calgary upon graduation in 1997.
Knapp worked in investment research, but realized he could be more effective in communications and started his own communications company in 2001 at the age of 26.
The company, Iradesso (a play on the Italian word adesso, meaning “right now”), started off as a one-man operation. By 2007, it had grown to a 25-person team. That year, it merged with Toronto-based Bryan Mills to become Bryan Mills Iradesso, with Knapp acting as president.
“I had seen all sorts of companies try and fail at establishing offices in other cities, so the merger made a tremendous amount of sense,” Knapp says.
Today, Bryan Mills Iradesso employs 50 people. The firm works with a variety of clients in both Calgary and Toronto, including banks, schools, real estate firms, industry associations, construction firms, as well as oil and gas companies.
One of the services Knapp’s company is well-known for is its iQ Report. Distributed worldwide to oil and gas companies and investors, the report serves as a quarterly comparison of the financial and operating results of junior and intermediate oil and gas companies, providing useful comparative statistics for industry watchers.
Having achieved a high benchmark of success within a relatively short time, Knapp also tries to give back to the community.
“I’ve been pretty privileged in my life and have had very fortunate circumstances,” he says. As such, Bryan Mills Iradesso does pro bono work for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary, helping to support the non-profit group’s communications efforts.
His three sons and family life keep him occupied when he’s not working. Knapp used to coach his kids soccer. “I had a coach back in high school who had a big impact on me,” Knapp recalls. “I thought what he did in terms of building confidence and teamwork is something I would like to be able to pass onto others.”
For Knapp, the decisions that have led him to this point have not been directed by just financial gain, but also by a desire to work at something he loves and to do it well.
“The reality is, if I only cared about finances, I think I would be an investment banker,” he says. “But I believe in good communication, and I also believe in doing communications to a high ethical standard.”
And his standards are being noticed by others. When Knapp started Iradesso, he was motivated by what he saw as a need for publicly traded companies to communicate more effectively with shareholders.
Last year, Bryan Mills Iradesso received the Best Overall Communicator Award from the Canadian Investor Relations Institute of Alberta, the first time the award had ever been given to a marketing agency rather than an in-house communications department.
Why he’s the top: He followed his talents and belief in providing excellent communication services to clients and grew his company from a one-man operation to a 50-person team, with offices in Calgary and Toronto.
The key to his success: “To me, happiness is the most important thing, in my work and with my family,” Knapp says. “The decisions that I make are made because of the impact they are going to have on my happiness, which means it’s not just about finances.”