Opus featured in the Portland Business Journal

Beaverton, Ore – Opus was recently featured in the Portland Business Journal. You can read the complete article, written by Rivkela Brodsky below.

Strategies: Opus evolves with the events industry

Rivkela Brodsky
Contributing Reporter, Portland Business Journal

The events industry was once all about trade shows. Then about 15 years ago, it evolved to focus more on massive corporate celebrations for major Fortune 500 companies.

It’s no coincidence that the industry’s evolution coincides with the launch of Opus Events Agency 14 years ago.

The Beaverton based company employs 110 people providing event services — from event management, strategic development, and tech and creative services — to a roster of clients that includes Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Intel, Salesforce, Charles Schwab, Kraft and General Mills.

In 2013, Opus generated $26.5 million in revenue and expected to increase that by 42 percent in 2014. CEO Grant Hammersley believes in the next three years Opus could triple in size.

To achieve that growth, the company followed a highly orchestrated plan that relied heavily on acquiring key talent capable of helping it rapidly expand its arsenal of services.

“We have systematically planned the evolution of our services to more fully meet the needs of our customers,” said Monte Wood, Opus’ president. “In most cases, we identified opportunities and recruited talent to fill the need. In some cases we made small acquisitions to acquire/secure that talent.”

Big clients, big events

The type of events Opus creates aren’t small affairs.

The company, for example, recently wrapped an event for Amazon Web Services in Las Vegas that took place over four days, hosted 14,000 people and included a speech by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It included 300 breakout sessions, “and a lot of parties in between,” Hammersley said.

Beyond event production, Opus also develops event technology. In April, for example, it released TotalCast, a system that allows companies to conduct product demonstrations without the need for cumbersome hardware and software components.

Such product development is an example of what Hammersley refers to as “evolutionaryinnovation,” a reference to what he describes as the company’s practice of listening to clients and employees to stay ahead of trends.

The industry trends that helped launch and grow the company aren’t showing signs of slowing.

“These companies need product launches, sales meetings, user conferences, developer conferences, training meetings and so forth,” Hammersley said. “Fortunately, we are working with customers that are also very successful and growing. The better we are at making them successful, the more that feeds our success. There are no boundaries to that right now. I think our company could triple in size in the next three years.”

Talent deals

To build its skill set, the company focused on key acquisitions — not merely in the sense of obtaining market share, but to acquire talent.

In many ways, that’s how it started.

The company formed as Opus Solutions in 2003 with the merger of Hammersley’s Stealth Services Worldwide, a freightforwarding company focused on the events industry, and First Contact, a meeting management company with global technology clients. It was rebranded to Opus Events Agency in 2013.

Other deals include Opus’ 2009 acquisition of the corporate merchandise division of Jeff Sanders Promotions, a Portland based
golf event company, and the 2010 deal for Bay Area events company, Genesis Creative Group Inc.

“They have been able to attract the right people,” said John Pavek, chief marketing officer for Rochester, Minnesotabased Exhibitor Media Group, which publishes a magazine on the events and trade show industry. “One of the ways to acquire key skills is to acquire a company.”

That has been a common strategy for successful companies in the industry that grew through the late 90s and early 2000s. Opus, he said, appears to have done this well.

“Opus has such a range of capabilities and is such a force,” he said.

Today the company employs 100 — 90 of which work in Oregon — with offices in California,
Boston, North Carolina, Michigan, and New Jersey.

Keeping those employees engaged is critical. Naturally, Opus holds regular events to meet that need.

Employees gather every other Friday at Opus’ new location at 9000 S.W. Nimbus Ave. for a company meeting that includes appetizers and cocktails. New hires are introduced, news and information is shared, and employees seeking one of Opus’ philanthropic grants present their cause.

“The things we do are on purpose for us to have a good time together,” said Wood. “Our general philosophy on business is that if you build a great team, that will build a great company.”

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