Many runners believe in the symbiotic benefits of group running: by running in packs, athletes can feed off each other’s energy and everyone is pushed to succeed.
Vancouver event planner Brian Davis believes this concept can apply to business, too.
“[Sponsorship from local businesses] is a synergy that I think works really well for us,” Davis said of his business model. “They want to get in front of people, and we want to get the products. For me, it’s about building the relationship.”
Davis created Energy Events, best known for the recent Vancouver USA Marathon, after his restaurant management career came to an end in 2008. In the four years since then, his company has grown to manage 12 annual races throughout the Northwest, including the Fort Vancouver Run, the Hot Buttered Run and the upcoming Salmon Creek Sunset Run.
With only 15 part-time employees and a host of volunteers and independent contractors, Davis said he and his team work hard to create an all-around experience for runners – an attribute he carried over from his restaurant management career and, as he put it, one of the reasons for his success.
“I think we differentiate ourselves through a combination of sponsors and having a good vibe at the finish line,” he remarked. “From the design of the shirts, to the medals, we’re trying to create an experience. It’s the little things, and people notice that we’ve put that effort into it.”
While Energy Events relies on its sponsors to make that experience possible, Davis said his company is not the only beneficiary from those relationships.
“I tie a lot of the races around the area we’re in,” Davis explained. “I go to the local businesses and say, ‘We’re going to bring a thousand people to you, would you like to be involved?’ We work together and they see the value in what we bring to the table.”
From booking out the entire Hilton Hotel before the Vancouver USA Marathon to winning the 2012 Clark County Tourism Award, this partnership strategy has worked so well for Energy Events that the company developed a marketing campaign around the idea. “What? Runs” began last year as a way to promote the Vancouver USA Marathon and show 75-100 prospective marathoners the route. Davis said these runs have evolved into a way for Energy Events to give back to the community.
“We meet at a different restaurant along the course,” he said. “After we run the course, we come back and I give each runner a beer ticket and I buy their beers. It generates money for that business and the runners get to see our course.”
The Rock, Beaches, Tommy O’s and Tiger’s Garden all participated in “What? Runs” leading up to past Vancouver USA Marathons. Davis hopes to begin the training runs for the third marathon in August, with the help of more local eateries.
“Most [businesses] get it, but there are a lot of people who don’t,” Davis explained. “They say, ‘You’re going to go for a run and then buy a beer afterwards? I don’t get it.’ But [the runners] don’t just have a beer. They have happy hour, and they stay for awhile.”
Looking toward the future, Davis expects to add more employees, races, and buy office and storage facilities for Energy Events. With the company’s rapid growth, however, he doesn’t want the community-central idea to be lost.
“[Our races] are an opportunity for people to come hang out, enjoy the (Vancouver) Farmer’s Market, enjoy the community,” Davis said. “We want to get that message out to people that this is not just a marathon, it’s an event weekend. You can come down, support people and spend money in the community.”