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BIG INTERVIEW78 . www.conference-news.co.uk . February 2012too well and Evans insists his campaign would have "made the car a hero".He got his chance to rev up his ideas two years later, when the company was asked to do a VW launch. "We made a big splash at branch level," he explains. "The results came in an uplift of sales in the car within six months."Evans is proud of his green credentials and, indeed, was awarded an MBE for social responsibility.He knocked back one client choice for a car launch event at a location which would have resulted in fi ve million travelling miles for delegates."Not appropriate," was Evans' verdict. His agency is very much still on the autobahn, running the European launch of Opel's electric car last year and a Ford Focus launch in France. "That was a small car with all kit on board. In Bordeaux we needed to teach the dealers to sell features the French weren't used to."As distinct from some competitors' approaches for attacking foreign markets by employing native speakers in the UK offi ces, the Grass Roots preferred modus operandi is to employ foreign nationals out in the fi eld and it recently spread its wings Stateside and in Singapore."Let the locals get on with it is my approach," says Evans. He certainly got on with it after he bought out Maritz in the UK in 2006. There were aspects of that business crying out for change; but then change has always been the name of Evans' game."You have to be willing to see when change needs to occur," he says. "That's the visionary in me." He seems to like the description of himself as being 'constructively discontented'.Forward chargeGoing into 2012, Evans is confi dent that the fi rst loss in 25 years made in the fi nancial year 2010, would not be repeated and is predicting profi ts when the 2011 accounts are brought in. With a new offi ce in Putney and an expanding venue procurement team led by Des McLaughlin ("the best operator in the space" - Evans), and a team in Fleet "being mothered incredibly by Giselle Ripken," Evans' Quaker-like faith is being restored.The future is all about IT, he believes, and he has equipped the Fleet business which he acquired from the administrators (the old 'MICE' agency) with new software."We have software guys all over the planet (Florida, Brazil, Ireland, Bangalore, and 120 in Tring alone)," says Evans.Meetings management software specialist StarCite changed hands in a deal valued at over $51m recently, did Evans perhaps not regret buying the company when he had the chance?"I described the product then to Steve Maritz as the fox in his hen coop."However, as far as the technology goes, we have capacity to produce stuff quicker.""The fact that StarCite needs to be sold so hard, says a lot. I'm not sure if there's a real number in there," Evans adds.Evans does believe "there is still gold in them thar events hills, especially in the pharmaceuticals industry".With a client portfolio spread between banking companies, telecoms, major retailers and government, Evans believes the current Grass Roots structure offers good protection for his people. He is charging still though, and his eight-year-old daughter Matilda has proved the inspiration for his latest hurrah.The old warhorse has opened up another front on the broadsward: founding a green brand manufacturing company in Port Talbot, Wales. Matilda's Planet is an incubator business for green projects, with the company's fi rst wind turbines installed in the Vauxhall tower.Evans is also focused on the prospects offered by the new markets, in particular China and India, where he has offi ces. He explains his global philosophy thus: "Like the old British empire, I send a Jesuit out then either buy something and build upon it, or build something and buy for it". In the future Evans sees Grass Roots Group having a 50/50 Overseas/UK split. At the moment the business is 75 per cent UK centred.The Grass Roots can always be greener; certainly if Matilda has anything to do with it. You have to be willing to see when change needs to occur. That's the visionary in me. I have been described as being 'constructively discontented'Right: Grass Roots applied its event production and creative skills to making the engineering and science education event Big Bang a success and appealing to the young student audience

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