Abby Tobias is putting all of his chips on the table with Sole Power Entertainment’s move to Teddington Park.
The team purchased a three-storey glass building at 3435 Yonge St. to come out of the pandemic as the “cream of the crop” in entertainment planning and representation.
Sole Power represents more than 250 deejays, dancers, emcees, musicians and bands, including the Juno award-winning Keys N Krates. They also provide the talent for national anthems at Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors games.
They’re in the process of moving from their current office on Sunrise Avenue in East York to the new digs in an effort to stay ahead of their competition. Tobias admitted it’s the riskiest move he’s made during the pandemic.
“From day one, we want to be what we were before: the best game in town,” a Florida-vacationing Tobias said during a March phone conversation. “Part of it, to me, is to have a sophisticated corporate headquarters. We’ll do a full launch in the coming months; we’re just in reno mode.”
No winners during pandemic
The challenge has been navigating the pandemic protocols that have been in place, something all the more present as he vacations in Florida, where there are no protocols.
For Tobias, there were no winners during the pandemic. He had to listen to his team’s comfort level. Pre-COVID, Sole Power was atop their field, so the approach was one of aggressively maintaining their reputation while working from home and having to let some staff go.
“I’ve always felt like a number of things that were taken away were things I can live without. I can live without a restaurant and movies and go to a basketball game. At the end of the day, these are real first-world luxuries,” Tobias said. “I certainly haven’t flip-flopped, but I can understand how (Florida) probably looks at us like we’re a bunch of yahoos. It’s so crazy because it feels like culturally, with respect to COVID, we’re three hours apart on a plane, but I feel like I’m on the other end of the world.”
During the Toronto Raptors’ time playing games in Tampa, and even the Blue Jays when they were playing out of Buffalo, Sole Power kept the lines of communication open with the teams to maintain that business relationship.
“What we did, with the Raptors specifically, we tried to provide them with as much virtual entertainment as we could,” Tobias recalled. “When they had fans in Tampa, they still wanted to facilitate entertainment.”
They used previous anthem recordings from games held in Toronto, for the games held in Tampa. They had to navigate the league rules, the provincial rules, as well as the rules in Florida.
“When the Raptors moved to Tampa, my feeling for them was ‘Lean on me as much as you need and I’m here for you,’” he admitted. The same approach was used during the Jays’ stay in Buffalo.
Return to North Toronto
North Toronto is not a new area for Tobias, as he has lived in the Bedford Park and Davisville Village neighbourhoods in the past.
The return to the area for him will be a new look, but with the same approach to maintaining their entertainment industry reputation, as well their new perspective on their business family.
“We were communicating with our staff as humans, and understanding this person lives with their grandmother, so maybe they’re not comfortable with coming into work, in fear of what happens,” he said. “Overall, it’s made my team tighter, feels even more like a family. So there are some rainbows at the end of the tunnel.”