Four Years of Having Fun
By: Geoff Rhodes, R&D Events Co-Founder
AT THE BEGINNING
It was 2009, right in the heart of the recession and I was working as the Director of Community Relations for a once prosperous resort in Southern Nevada. We were in the midst of a Chapter 11 proceeding and everyone could see the writing on the wall. The ax finally came down on my birthday of all days and before I could blow out the candles on my cake, I was unemployed. Looking back, what could have ended up being a rough patch in my life, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Insert JP DeLay. JP and I had worked together at The Ritz-Carlton for years designing and executing an array of events ranging from million dollar weddings to helicopter tours and rock climbing excursions. He too was in transition after The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas announced their closure and was looking to become his own boss. He had this wild idea of starting a company that would specialize in team building and was looking for a business partner.
Our first meeting was at a Whole Foods Market just outside of Las Vegas. We spent a few hours tossing ideas around before realizing that although the concept seemed strong, the state of the economy might not warrant any immediate success. I needed more time to think, so I went on a walk-a-bout (of sorts) and spent the next 30 days driving across the country trying to plan my next move. What I finally realized was that this was the perfect opportunity in my life to take a bold risk.
A COMPANY IS BORN
Upon my return we scheduled a follow-up meeting at the same Whole Food Market, this time hashing out all of the details of the company and building a framework for how we would engineer this new company. One of our first tasks was settling on a name. It was a close race between “R&D Events”, “Edge Events” and the dark horse, “CalNeva”. In the end, R&D won out.
Our first office was located in my house, and more specifically in my closet which was a whopping 24 square feet; we actually couldn’t both be in there at the same time and whenever we had a conference call, one of us would have to stand out in the bathroom. If only our clients could have seen us back then…
By 2012 we had grown well beyond the confines of my meager closet and our client list had grown 10 fold since our first program with Baskow & Associates. We were conducting on an average 150 events a year and we were stretched pretty thin. JP and I had kept in close contact with another ex-Ritz-Carlton comrade and after nearly a year of badgering her, she finally conceded and decided to join our small start-up. In March we welcomed our first full-time employee to the family, Cari Compton. She was a seasoned sales manager and knew all about team building from her days at the Ritz-Carlton. She stepped right in on day one and been a super star ever since.
WORLD’S BEST TEAM
Today, as we close in on our four year anniversary, I am proud to say that R&D Events has cemented itself as a leader in team building with no signs of slowing down. This year, in partnership with our good friend and colleague Scott Duncan, we opened our first East Coast office right in the heart of South Beach and even added a Director of Marketing, Jenny Sassi, who believe it or not managed that Whole Foods that JP and I first met at. And thanks to a stellar team of emcees and event producers like Brian Tranbarger, Donald Spalding and Josh Krier, JP and I no longer have to be at every event; even though you will still find one of us at nearly every one.
Although it sounds cliché, these past four years have gone by pretty fast, but with the direction we are headed in, I could not be more excited about what the future holds in store for us. Until then, be sure to have some fun. I know we will, it’s our job!