From Small Beginnings - The Shepherd’s Guide 25 years in Canada
A business man who at time wasn’t an advertiser in The Shepherd’s Guide was listening to a conversation from some widows in his church one day. They were in the pew in front of him talking about who one of them could hire for a job she needed done. His ears perked up when he heard one of the ladies assert: “Is he in The Shepherd’s Guide? If he’s not in The Shepherd’s Guide, I wouldn’t use him.” He called to book his ad!
In the 25 years that Terry Magee has been publishing The Shepherd’s Guide in Canada, it’s a story that still makes him laugh.
February 29, 1988 Terry and his partner purchased the Canadian rights for The Shepherd’s Guide. They had seen a 16-page edition from Rhode Island in 1986 and thought it would be a great resource for Central Alberta. Terry saw it was a win-win for everyone involved. Consumers would get products and services from business people who had a commitment to serve them with honesty and integrity and businesses would get good-quality clients from the Christian community. And as the businesses prospered and did well they’d support the churches and missions. This is really what drew him to the business of publishing Christian business directories.
He started it while he still worked selling real estate in the Red Deer area. Terry and his partner hired someone to do sales. They would keep their own businesses. However, it became apparent in a couple of months Terry personally had to put more time and energy into what was becoming his calling. He was the top sales person in his real estate office at the time and took a leave of absence to focus on the new business. He never did get back to real estate.
He discovered The Shepherd’s Guide was a powerful means to bring unity into the Christian community. Most people knew some of the business people in their church circle, but not much beyond that. He saw one of the purposes of The Shepherd’s Guide was to bring interaction across the Christian community and break down existing prejudices.
It was a rough start. Terry had no experience selling advertising, creating ads, or even publishing. The size of the book was 6”x9” and trying to get it printed was difficult because all the presses were set to 8.5”x11”. After the first year, they changed the size of the book and saved about 20% on the printing. Terry and his wife Elaine sold their house and put the equity into the business. A publisher left with some money and left Terry some bills to pay. Terry and his partner parted ways, and Terry took on their combined debt. When Elaine died in a car accident Terry seriously considered if he should continue.
Terry grew to know God called him to The Shepherd’s Guide because he couldn’t quit. Along the way he had encouragement from people - some of whom would simply say, “I thought about doing something like this.” He discovered people buy ads because they see the vision of The Shepherd’s Guide. This vision is something he and Dawn enjoy communicating to people. Dawn brought her marketing skills to The Shepherd’s Guide when she married Terry in 2004. Since they’ve been married, four new publications have started and the size of the Edmonton edition has grown fifty percent.
After 25 years, there are 15 publications in Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Ontario. Between 1500 - 1700 businesses are listed in these guides in 2013. The publication has grown as people see a copy of The Shepherd’s Guide and decide they need one for their community. Terry and Dawn see The Shepherd’s Guide serving major communities across Canada. They are waiting for the right people to expand into Quebec and the Maritimes.