When Joe Ammar was 15, he got a part-time job — and then he got two more. “My dad became ill, which made my siblings and I realize that we now had to help support the family,” he says. Although the family had owned a grocery store in north Edmonton for two decades, it had been slowly going under because of the rise of big-box stores in the 1980s. When Ammar’s father passed away, the business folded and the family struggled to make ends meet.
“My childhood basically changed the year my dad passed away as we no longer had him to rely on. If we wanted food on the table, we had to work,” he says. Throughout high school, Ammar juggled school work with shifts at a car wash, telephone call centre, and a party rental company. “I worked hard and I played hard, but still enjoyed my life,” he says.
I always recognized the significance of what my father taught me about the importance of relationships in business, and that patience, hard word and resilience are key ingredients to success.
Ammar looked forward to summers working full-time at the party rental company, learning every aspect of the industry at a young age. When he finished high school, he took on a full-time job at the local business and launched a successful career in the events industry. “The events industry was never a simple 9-5,” he says, “it was always something different and exciting, day in and day out. Throughout this time, I always recognized the significance of what my father taught me about the importance of relationships in business, and that patience, hard word and resilience are key ingredients to success.” For the next 20 years, he became intimately acquainted with the industry and rose through the ranks of the company.
I truly believe Edmonton is the best place to build and create, or to make something of yourself.
In 2007, he made the leap into entrepreneurship and decided to launch River City Events, a full-service event rental and planning company specializing in rentals, planning, design and now tents, as the organization acquired another well-established tent rental company Big Top Tent Rentals in November of 2016. “We offer everything under one roof,” says Ammar. Since the company’s inception, River City Events has worked with the Edmonton Convention Centre to produce occasions of all kinds, from weddings and fundraising galas to festivals and sporting events. “We’ve been blessed to work with the Edmonton Convention Centre,” says Ammar. “They’re very conscious and respectful of what we do, and are professional to work with.”
Ammar feels privileged to have collaborated with Edmonton’s convention centre on some of the city’s most memorable events, like Red Bull Crashed Ice in 2015 (which grabbed headlines with its massive man-made luge built atop the convention centre). “These events strengthen the community here and build opportunity for businesses of all sizes, including ours,” he says.
Over the past 10 years River City Events has grown in leaps and bounds, much like the city itself, and is now proud to employ over 50 talented and creative employees. But despite its growth, Edmonton has continued to be a friendly and welcoming place where people of all backgrounds can succeed. “I truly believe Edmonton is the best place to build and create, or to make something of yourself,” says Ammar. “I am so proud of our dedicated team. We are excited to see what the future holds and are extremely grateful to grow and partner with the Edmonton Convention Centre and their events!”
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