One day, a business man, who at the time was not an advertiser in The Shepherd’s Guide, was sitting in church. He overheard a conversation between two widows who were sitting in front of him. Listening to the conversation, one lady was asking about who she could hire for some work she needed done. The other lady asserted, “Is he in The Shepherd’s Guide? If he’s not in The Shepherd’s Guide I wouldn’t use him.” The very next day the business man called to book his ad!
In the 35 years that Terry Magee has been publishing The Shepherd’s Guide in Canada, it’s a story that still makes him laugh.
On 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 receive products and services from business people who had a commitment to serve them with honesty and integrity. While businesses would acquire good-quality clients from the Christian community. As Christian businesses prospered they were able to support local churches and missions. This concept is what really attracted Terry to the business of publishing Christian business directories.
Terry started The Shepherd’s Guide while still selling real estate in the Red Deer, AB area. Terry and his partner hired someone to do sales while they kept working their own businesses. However, it became apparent in a couple of months that Terry was being called to put more time and energy into what he felt was his true purpose. He was the top sales person in his real estate office at the time but took a leave of absence to focus on the new business venture of overseeing the operations of The Shepherd’s Guide. Terry never did return to selling real estate.
Terry soon had the revelation that The Shepherd’s Guide was a powerful means to bring unity into the Christian community. Most people knew of Christian business owners but it never seemed to go beyond that. Terry saw one of the purposes of The Shepherd’s Guide was to bring interaction among the Christian community and break down existing prejudices and differences.
This new venture proved to have its challenges. Terry had no experience selling advertising, creating ads, or even publishing. The size of the book was 6” x 9” at the time and trying to get it printed was difficult because all the presses were set to 8.5” x 11”. After the first year, they changed the size of the book and saved about 20% on the printing costs. Terry and his wife Elaine sold their house and put the equity into the business. Unfortunately, a publisher fled with part of the investment leaving Terry to pay the bills. Terry and his partner went separate ways after that leaving Terry to also carry their combined debt of the new company. Adding to the circumstances, his wife, Elaine, died in a car accident. At this point, Terry seriously considered if he should continue with operation of The Shepherd’s Guide.
Terry spent much time seeking God and grew to know that God had called him to The Shepherd’s Guide. Along the way, he had encouragement from many people – some of whom would simply say, “I thought about doing something like this.” Persevering through the difficult times, he discovered people bought ads because they recognized the vision of The Shepherd’s Guide. To see the Christian community come together through the marketplace. Slowly, things started to turn around and Terry could see God’s hand on him and the business.
To this day, this vision is something Terry and his wife, 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, ten new publications have been started and the size of the Edmonton edition has grown by more than fifty percent.
After 35 years, there are 19 publications in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. In 2018, between 1700 – 2000 businesses are listed in these guides. The publications grow each year as people see a copy of The Shepherd’s Guide and decide they need one for their community. Terry and Dawn’s vision is to see The Shepherd’s Guide serving major communities across Canada. They are waiting for the right people to expand into Quebec and the Maritimes.