Events company goes global

A FUN event in Noosa that started 30 years ago with just 180 competitors has morphed into a global entity that stages major international events with budgets of tens of millions of dollars.

But USM Events, which this year was acquired by World Triathlon Corporation because of its peerless reputation for staging the Noosa and Mooloolaba Triathlons that pump loads of tourist dollars into the Coast, is adamant it will not be moving from its Noosa headquarters - ever.

USM is the corporate child of former Noosa News sales rep and active sportsman Garth Prowd, who took a sometimes chaotic, but always alluring swim, run and ride and turned it into a sporting juggernaut to rival the biggest one-off sports experiences on the planet.

Along the way the quasi-retired Mr Prowd, who quite some time back sold his stake in USM to Daryl Herbert while retaining a consultancy role, passed the baton to USM CEO Geoff Meyer.

Last week Mr Meyer and Mr Prowd met with the Noosa News to outline how a Noosa company that once sat atop a service station is taking on the world in the lucrative field of sports events tourism.

In February last year WTC announced it was teaming up with USM Events.

"As part of the acquisition, WTC will integrate the management of its Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races (half Ironman events) into USM's operational structure," the WTC said.

"Daryl Herbert, owner and managing director of USM Events, will remain in a management role and WTC staff in the Asia-Pacific region will be integrated into USM Events."

Mr Meyer said newly appointed WTC global boss Andrew Messick knew Mr Herbert and Mr Prowd had the runs on the board, not to mention the contacts, to bring a new level of quality control to the Ironman events in the Asia Pacific region.

"So it's a bit of a reverse takeover - they bought USM Events to become the operational arm of Ironman," Mr Meyer said.

"We control the five Ironman triathlons in Australia and New Zealand as well as all 70.3 events, which are the half Ironman.

"We have staff going to the Philippines on the weekend for a 70.3 - we are looking after all the events in Asia - every event has a budget of $1.5 to $2 million."

"Noosa is still the head office. This is our base," Mr Meyer said.

"It's still the home of our biggest events - Mooloolaba and Noosa and the Winter Festival - and we want to add another Coast event which is going to be very large if council and government get into it.

"We're going to have three or four big events each year on the Coast. We need the team to be here to run it.

"Everyone wants a Noosa Triathlon in their back yard - because it has a $19.5 million economic impact and that's government, not us, saying that."

USM has put on new staff recently and has about 48 staff based on the Coast, with six offices across Australia and New Zealand including Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Western Australia.

"We've just launched in New Zealand, Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales."

Mr Prowd said USM had to have international links and affiliations to survive in "the cut-throat business it was in".

"It will be good for USM and it will be good for Noosa and the Sunshine Coast ... it's interesting at the last count USM had 12 of its former staff working at the Olympics," Mr Prowd said.

"Noosa and Mooloolaba Triathlons are still regarded as a good successful model for sports tourism, so this is about a Noosa company being a global entity with 150,000 customers."

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