Corey Mandell – The Greatest Showman

Corey Mandell is a showman; entertainment is in his blood. It’s a passion he turned from a part-time gig at eighteen into a career that has taken him across the globe and back to the homes and dinner tables of some of the world’s elite, including celebrities, royalty, and some of the most successful business leaders of our time. 

Working as a DJ while attending York University, Corey quickly realized this was not just a gig but something he could turn into a real business. With his love of entertainment driving the process, Corey envisioned merging disc jockeying with live interactive performance. The concept blew up, and Corey\’s idea revolutionized the entire industry, creating a wave that saw hundreds of companies across North America following suit. At the young age of twenty,

Corey Mandell had already made his mark and was sitting with a business that employed over 100 DJ dancers.

The next step in the natural evolution of the brand Corey was building was to introduce AV services to the existing interactive games and amusement activities so that he could capture more of the bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and corporate event market. Introducing interactive concepts to these events exploded the market, and everyone wanted to join. By the mid-90s, Mandell Entertainment Group had over 250 full/part-time staff and provided services to over 1500 events per year. The company was an exclusive service provider to many Toronto venues and rapidly expanded across Canada and the US.

Having conquered his existing market, Corey started to look outside his business model for the next opportunity, which turned out to be a venue. This was a chance to apply his years of experience working in venues to managing one how he imagined it could be, with state-of-the-art tech, a fully immersive self-contained environment, high energy, and the hottest guest list in town. 

Corey and his team moved fast; first, they restored the old Capitol Movie Theatre in Toronto to its original Art Deco facade and rebranded it as the Capitol Event Theatre. He would later do the same with the York Event Theatre. Corey is known for being the first. The first to create revolutionary ideas, the first to branch out into unseen territory, the first to take the risk. His next foray followed suit with his brilliant and lucrative vision for Toronto’s first supper club, aptly called Lobby. Corey built Lobby into a major brand, and through his larger-than-life persona and multimillion-dollar connections, he created a home for mega-film festival parties, the who’s who of Toronto, and international celebs. 

Having conquered his goal of owning the hottest nightspots in TO and seeing the economic turn coming in the 2000s, Corey sold his venues and turned his focus to producing large-scale corporate events and premium galas. He aimed to take what he had created in the private sector with social events and reproduce it on a far grander scale in the corporate world. And… being that we are talking about Corey Mandell, it worked.

A new chapter began to take form in 2010 when Corey gained the attention of some of the world’s largest brands, and the event work started to flow in. Organizations like Bell, KPMG, ROGERS, CIBC, MLSE, MOUNT SINAI, SICK KIDS, TD, ROOTS, KLICK, the CAFA’s, McDonald’s, and STAND UP TO CANCER were all looking to bring that Mandell magic to their creative events. This was the beginning of the Mandell Entertainment we know today.

They say it takes a single moment of impact to change the course of anything, from a business to a relationship to a life. Corey has had many of those defining moments, but in 2013, when he met his US partner Michael Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation, his world began to change. This meeting was the catalyst for Mandell Entertainment’s growth in the US corporate event market. His company now works consistently with some amazing US organizations such as Gateway to Cancer, Childhelp, and Cancer Treatment Centres of America. It provides exclusive services to some of the world\’s rich and famous. The Foster relationship has blossomed immensely, and Mandell Entertainment Group has been producing the David Foster Foundation shows in both the US and Canada.

Today, Mandell Entertainment has positioned itself as a premium boutique group focusing on quality, managing,  producing, and executing 6 – 8 events per month throughout North America. Each project is original, and each one pushes the boundaries to elevate the production value while always appreciating the guest’s experience. There is a saying at Mandell that they live by: the guest’s experience needs to be an original experience, and even if they have seen it before, they haven’t seen it like this.

At Mandell Entertainment, it is all about working closely with the client from initial concept to planning to execution. Beyond anything, it is the client experience, throughout the process, that they pride themselves on. It’s not just about the event; it’s about producing ground-breaking, industry-changing, awe-inspiring events that allow his clients to be involved in something bigger than ordinary. Clients come to Mandell because they trust him. And, with a 30-year track record of producing some of the most significant events on the continent and unparalleled exclusive access to world-class talent, Mandell holds the advantage of experience, something their clients value greatly. 

Being a top producer means everyone wants a piece, and it’s always a balancing act to manage your relationships with the industry while managing the development and maintenance of your brand. Corey handles this by staying intensely focused on the end game and the client, and he blocks out the clutter by working with hand-picked people and companies he sees as the best in the business. He creates fluid, trusting relationships that allow him to hire them when he needs the support, and on the flip side, he white labels his services and supports many of the country’s best event planners.

It is not just the partnerships that are hand-picked. Everything Mandell does is handled by the same team that travels with him wherever he works. The team is growing every year. The most recent addition is veteran Toronto event producer Jody Litvack, who has just taken on the role of Vice President of Live Events Mandell Entertainment Group.

Loyalty, connection, and comfort are paramount to being part of Corey’s team. They trust each other, which is key to producing the high-level work they do at the pace required to execute flawlessly every time. The team is like a family, something Corey is fiercely passionate about. His wife and four children are his greatest accomplishment and priority, and without their support and love, he says none of this would be what it is, and none of it would matter as much.

One of the greatest moments of Corey’s career was being chosen by the David Foster Foundation and being given a chance to work on a world-class stage. He says it is like playing amateur hockey your whole life and then stepping on the ice to play an NHL game and not only fitting in but scoring goals. Producing the David Foster Galas was one of his most stressful experiences, but it was also the most significant transformation in Corey’s life; he got it done and then knew he could do it. The night he produced the David Foster 30th Anniversary Gala in Vancouver at Rogers Arena, Corey recalls standing at the back of the arena and taking it all in. It indeed was mind-blowing to see it all come together. That night, he raised over 10 million for the David Foster Foundation. It was truly an incredible event.

Corey thrives on the challenge and the adrenalin rush on show day.

I love to see the vision come together. We constantly challenge ourselves to do the next big thing; seeing it come to fruition is the ultimate reward. The excitement of working with world-class stars, stepping into their world, and being respected as a show producer is a huge reward.

And we can see why. He has personally worked with incredible talent, including Steven Tyler, Stevie Wonder, Kiss, Earth, Wind and Fire, Cee Lo Green, Carrie Underwood, Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber, Chicago, Michael Bolton, Reba Macintyre, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Brian McKnight, The Beach Boys, Graham.

Nash, Bob Weir, Jay Leno, Howie Mandel, James Corden, Wayne Brady, Seal, Sheryl Crow, Michelle Obama, President Clinton, and Bush…to name a few.

In the Mandell world, everything is about putting on the greatest show and moving fast. Everywhere Corey goes, he’s thinking up new experiences, and his creative and fascinating mind never stops. He finds inspiration in obscure spaces like watching a movie or attending his daughter’s dance recital. Corey says, “What you create out of that inspiration counts. My passion for event production stems from the creative aspects of the job. Starting with a simple idea and watching it bloom into a full-scale production is what ultimately inspires me to do what I do daily.

He tells me he keeps a journal with every detail in a daily diary, and he’s been doing this since he was 19. Do you know who else kept a daily journal of their lives, ideas, inspirations, and thoughts? Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Frida Kahlo, Kanye West, and Sir Richard Branson. There is something here for the rest of us to consider.

Giving back and being able to create change is a massive driver for Corey Mandell. He truly believes that there are no shortcuts. His mantras Include: ·

Put in the work, and you will reap the rewards. 

Treat people in a manner in which you want to be treated back.

Every opportunity, no matter how small, is a chance to do something great.

Most importantly – be charitable. Give just enough so you feel it.

Corey comes from a place where you live your life, succeed, and give back. He understands his success is not a solo adventure and is deeply passionate about the causes to which he has pledged his support. The David Foster Foundation, along with the Sinai Foundation, Gateway for Cancer, Childhelp, and his cause, are among them. The One Family Fund is an organization that helps victims of terror in Israel. Corey sponsors 30 children from is real each year to attend his summer camp, Camp Timberlane for three weeks. These are children who have been directly affected by terrorism and whose lives have been shattered.

Children are at the core of Corey’s life. Those he supports through his endeavours and, of course, his own four little ones. He is eternally trying to keep family time as family time. One of his greatest loves is camping. As a child, he grew up at Camp Timberlane (an overnight camp in Haliburton, Ontario). Here, he first discovered he could perform, as Timberlane gave him his first stage and audience. One of Corey’s biggest idols, Lorne Michaels of SNL, is also a Timberlane Alumni. Later in life, Corey learned it was at Timberlane that Lorne had imagined and created Saturday Night Live. Corey finds a connection here because Timberlane is also where he conceived the idea of his entertainment business. There must be something magical in the air up there.

Timberlane, being so dear to his heart and filled with so many great memories, Corey decided to buy the camp in 2006 and has continued running it ever since. The camp plays a pivotal role in his life. It’s a place to surround himself with children’s energy; it offers a break from the daily hustle and is a conduit to give back to those in need. It also provides Corey and his wife, Lauren, time to spend as a family doing what they love and ensuring their children have the experiences he was lucky enough to have.

As a leader, success story, and industry icon, Corey has had some wild experiences. I asked him what his greatest legacy would be and if he knew yet what he wanted to leave behind. He said this.

"I have produced thousands of events. I have helped raise millions of dollars for charities around the world. I have touched the lives of thousands upon thousands of children. What more can l ask for?

He advises those just starting out in events to appreciate what it takes to create a great event.

"You cannot do it yourself. It would be best if you surrounded yourself with people who are better and more experienced than yourself. Share the accolades with others and empower those around you to want to work for you. You will be surprised at how quickly your brand will grow. There are no shortcuts in this space. Put in the time, and you will reap the rewards.

What’s on the bucket list of the busiest guy in the biz? Not in any particular order, the Grammy’s, the Oscars, and the Super Bowl halftime show. At CSE, we have no doubt it won’t be long before these visions and dreams of Corey Mandell’s come true. After all, he’s already written it in his journal.