Home Month and Year July 2021 River City Events

River City Events

The Past, Present & The Optimistic Future

Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt

President and CEO of River City Events, Joe Ammar, proudly oversees all strategic and business operations of the company, which provides personalized services of event rentals including planning, design and tents, from the beginning to the end of each and every event.

Ammar’s experience within the events industry spans 30+ years, during which he has managed and directed some of the most successful and original events in the industry for Edmonton and the surrounding area. He is a self-driven individual, leading today with a successful company that was founded in 2007. Ammar is one who continuously builds and leads the events industry, which in turn empowers a talented team to achieve and develop to the next higher level.

Through perseverance, Ammar has created a locally owned business on the southside of Edmonton, which plays a key role in creating economic growth, employment, and development for new business. His mindset for a successful and evolving organization instills energy in people for their events, allowing them to be creative and in turn, inspiring others to be able to benefit.
It is a one-stop solution for clients to rent everything from tables and chairs to games and themed props. The in-house design team creates an unforgettable experience, which can manage an entire event from conception to completion and provide tents that can easily accommodate a variety of events.

A distinguishing feature of River City Events is the commitment to having what clients need when they need it. There is always available rental stock within an impressive 66,000 square foot warehouse that stages two levels of showroom and a rooftop patio that houses more than 20,000 rentable and sales items. Inventory includes an impressive selection of tents, catering equipment, dinnerware, décor and a collection of linens.

River City Events has been recognized by numerous local organizations and associations. Ammar has been acknowledged by Business in Edmonton Leaders as well as one of Edmonton’s Best Industry Professionals with the Edmonton Event Awards. The company has earned a Best Designed Exhibit nod for five consecutive years at the Edmonton Bridal Fair. In addition, Ammar has been awarded a national philanthropy award from the Canadian Cancer Society.

But now it’s 2021. The pandemic has raged on for well over a year. Events are cancelled or drastically scaled down and restrictions come and go, making long-term planning very difficult. How does one of the most popular event rental and planning companies in the city continue to thrive? For Ammar, it’s all about relationships, agility and the will to keep powering through.

As Ammar entered the workforce through grit, determination and learning, he wasn’t going to give up when everything shut down in March of 2020. River City Events dug deep into resilience and tenacity to shift the company to a model that would survive these challenging times. He admits it wasn’t easy.

“We were decimated when it came to operations,” says Ammar. “I had a strong realization that we had to figure out what was going to be important for our clients and team, our business and our community.”

Ammar and his team reached out to clients and talked with them about how to best provide the safety and support that was needed.

“One solution we invested in for our clients was the Ultra Mist Sanitizing Fogger. It disinfects, sanitizes, and deodorizes spaces. In the early days of COVID, rented items had to sit for three days after use, but the Ultra Fogger sanitized items instantly,” he says.
Next, they looked at their inventory for rental items they could leverage. “We had a lot of social distancing products thanks to our crowd control rentals. This assisted clients that needed strategic line control such as retail stores. We also had rentable, portable sanitizing stations and hand sinks, which proved to be popular items.”

The move to small, outdoor gatherings also meant that tent rentals were in increased demand.

“The pandemic created a fight or flight type of peril,” admits Ammar. “Companies in the event and hospitality space needed to change their business model in any way they could.”

It’s not only the shift in operations that helped River City Events succeed during trying times. Ammar credits his team for their hard work and resilience before and during the pandemic. Even though some temporary layoffs were unavoidable, the team has always been the most crucial part of the brand.”

He continues, “We are nothing without our people. Our team is number one. To have satisfied clients you need qualified, enthusiastic people to make your company operate. The right team in place makes coming to work more meaningful and worth the commitment. I thrive on surrounding myself with great people and accomplishing our goals together. I am dedicated to building a company where everyone is proud to come to work.”

The success of River City Events is achieved through determination, creativity, and resourcefulness. The company continues to establish new ventures and lead existing ones into renewed growth.
Ammar is a strong believer in giving back to the community. He supports many organizations and not-for-profit associations. Currently, he is a board member of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Member Advisory Council and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Edmonton Executive Association, and Synergy Network. Ammar is the former president of the Canadian Rental Association – Alberta Chapter and the honorary chair of Canadian Cancer Society’s (Strathcona County) Relay For Life. River City also proudly supports its clients with their events by giving back in sponsorship endeavors and fundraising events and donating thousands of dollars to many organizations.

“In Edmonton, the business community is compassionate and loyal. There is a closeness and a generosity, and each is philanthropic in their own way,” Ammar praises.

“With hopes of the pandemic nearing a close, there is a bright light ahead! Edmonton continues to be a supportive and resilient environment 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. I am also so thankful, grateful and blessed for our dedicated team.

“We are all excited to see what the future holds for its upcoming events,” says Ammar. “After 14 years, life is like a river, it is always flowing, it can change course, but nothing can stop it. The bar is set high to remain and come back stronger for further development, continued employment, enhanced safety, outstanding service and upholding charity work and community involvement selflessly.”

1215 95 St SW, Edmonton, AB
Phone: 780-424-6001