If you’ve been to a special event at any point in the past 20 years, there’s a pretty good chance that Magen Boys Entertainment was involved. Twin brothers Jian and Page Magen have built several successful companies over the years, but nothing in their experience could have prepared them for the devastating effects of this pandemic. With a large staff, warehouse, showroom, and roster of talent all on the payroll, the company’s burn rate were simply not sustainable when revenues suddenly came to a grinding halt. Their solution? They’ve gone back to basics and innovated to virtual events  – all the while betting big for the industry’s inevitable return.

Jian and Page Magen

Photo Courtesy of Ebti Nabag

Let’s talk about the old days

What was business like pre-pandemic?

This was the year we were to celebrate our 20th anniversary as a company. We were going to use this milestone to catapult us through an entire year: it included a full rebrand, a new website launch, and of course a massive celebration! There were nearly 1,000 events on the books for the year – tons of corporate and private stuff lined up – even 2-3 years out. We had every reason to be optimistic about the year ahead. Our company was a well-oiled machine built for a high level of functionality

When did stuff really hit the fan?

There was no singular issue; it was a mixed cocktail of issues. This meant everything from the rightfully panicked client who had been planning their event for months and years, to the staff management who were all doing their best to ignore the looming cloud of “unknown” ahead of them. We did our best to line up every issue as it arose and knock them back as they came our way. Needless to say, it was complete chaos.

How has your business been affected? 

As many people know, the events and hospitality industry have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Our business took no exception. From having nearly 1,000 events booked for the year it went down to only 100 in a split second. We had to furlough a large portion of our staff. We use to have over 150 staff employed of any given week and now we are down to a fraction of that. My brother and I had to figure out what to do about our operations as a whole, and very quickly activate our entrepreneurial senses to provide for our families as well as control the rapid losses. There is really no way you can prepare for such a catastrophic change of course.

What have you done to manage the expectations of your Clients?

One of the most important elements for us as a business is always making sure we do what we can to service and keep our clients happy. This was a very difficult component for us to maintain as everyone has their own COVID struggles. Whether it is deposit or cancellation protocols or just general disappointment of the loss of a significant milestone we have tried everything we can to manage the spirit of our relationships. This was really one of the hardest things to do as our business had to make very difficult decisions along the way that were created by this entire mess.

How has your business adapted?

We naturally did everything we could to cut down expenses. From there, we began to liquidate some of our inventory. Once we got things under control, we built multiple virtual studios which enabled us to do some decent business. Virtual became our new life and we were learning on the go – really fast! Our natural instinct is one of survival and an entrepreneurial spirit. We were lucky that we had this to fall back on as a form of navigating through the turbulence.

This is the rainy day that we have heard about our entire lives.

How has the pandemic affected you personally?

How have you been affected? What was your lowest point(s)?

Watching your livelihood get significantly impacted has got to be one of the most eye-opening events one can go through. We can say that this was as low of a point professionally that we could ever have experienced. Even still, while we are definitely taking a substantial financial hit, we are doing everything in our power to remain positive. It’s not how you go down but how you get up. So while the entire experience has created a negative effect on our business, we are personally grateful for the amount of support and kindness we have received from our communities. Yes, it is bad for us; however, we are not blind to the fact that it is much much worse for others. We are doing our very best to not let this control us and our optimism.

What sorts of activities have you done to keep a level head?

I don’t think either of us has had the time to ourselves as we have in the past year. We are definitely not taking it for granted and are constantly reminding ourselves that this is a moment in time from which we will bounce back. Both of us have taken this time to do more exercise, eat healthier and just breathe! These activities have provided us with a great balance against all the stress going on in the industry. As a part of our 20th anniversary, we teamed up with some awesome individuals and created a Joy Drive where we supported underserved communities with toys, gifts, clothing, and more for the holidays. This was really one of the more meaningful initiatives we have ever done. We are extremely proud of the impact and are going to continue with this to give back during this difficult time.

Looking Forward

What do you see happening for your business in 2021? 

We remain hopeful that with all the restrictions, vaccine developments, and other sacrifices we have been making, that there will be a stronger events industry in 2021 – even if it’s on a smaller scale – which, we’ll certainly take at this point! There was a massive window that closed on us when the world was shut down. We managed to create multiple windows throughout the year and are continuing to do so with some significant new ventures in the pipeline.

As we look to the future of the events industry, we believe that a level of virtual offerings will become the norm and will be used in conjunction with any live event. We also feel that there will need to be a level of social/environmental/philanthropic responsibility for every event. It is going to be our job as the event producer to bring this new thought process to the forefront of the events industry. One of the things we are focusing on as a business is investing in greater partnerships. More and more we realize that we should be playing to our strengths and partnering with those that can elevate us in other areas to make us more well-rounded. We are definitely going to be looking forward to holding a party of some sort to celebrate our company and community.

Many entrepreneurs out there often feel like they are suffering in silence. Do you have any words of advice to help people cope?

There are many people who are struggling through these times of uncertainty and turbulence. This is the rainy day that we have heard about our entire lives. The fire we were told not to play with. Now is not the time to give up or pack it in. This is a crucial time for you to make that comeback and reach from deep within. As entrepreneurs ourselves we have never been hit harder than we have this past year. Our doors are open to fellow entrepreneurs and industry peers to share our experience as well as our newfound perspectives. It’s been quite the year however please always remember the best is yet to come.

With vaccines starting to roll out, what sort of upward momentum are you seeing?

We continue to hear that there is going to be a “pent-up demand” once the world is vaccinated. Whenever this time does come, and we are hoping that it does sooner than later, there will be a glorious return to in-person events, big and small. Our team is ready to execute and we know that our clients are ready to celebrate.

Jian and Page Magen

Photo Courtesy of Avital Zemer