Dan Giesbrecht started his career as a special events coordinator by toiling in the film industry. While working on a TV series, a friend asked Dan to help out with a festival in Vancouver, and Dan soon became the operations manager for the company that ran the festival.
When he realized he had a passion for coordinating events, he bought the Dragon Boat Festival Company in Kelowna and started Maximum Sports and Entertainment Limited, which now coordinates such events as the Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival and its year-long training program, a sport and adventure show, a blues fest, snowmobile races and several ball tournaments.
Dan completed one year of business school at Fraser Valley College and has run companies since he was 18. He has worked in the restaurant, hotel and shopping centre businesses and ran a trucking company when he was 19. Dan says that the key to success is always finishing what you start. He also believes in complete commitment: “Whether you are at the bottom of the organization or at the top, if you are not giving 100 per cent, then you are failing.”
As an event coordinator, Dan says the best results come from working with key stakeholders, like city council committees, sport advisory committees and hoteliers, so that everyone works together to benefit the community. For example, the Dragon Boat Festival in Kelowna now involves some 3500 participants, and it has extended the lucrative shoulder season for hotels and motels in Kelowna from September to October.
Because event production has its challenges – like providing steady employment – Dan recommends having several event properties to coordinate throughout the year (he coordinates at least 10 events annually). He will continue to be an independent business owner, and he encourages anyone who would like to become an event coordinator to commit long-term to the industry. “The process of becoming a successful event coordinator often involves starting off part-time, then progressing to full-time and then on to management. Have long-term goals and know where you want to be in the future, and you will do well,” he says.