2014 Company Review

    As we reach the end of 2014, a selection of companies talk us through their highlights of the past 12 months and their hopes for the year ahead
    2014, Companies, Dubai, Eclipse, Elie Battah, Events, Industry, Lighting, Middle East, Review, Robe, Staging, SPECIAL REPORTS, Top 10

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    As we reach the end of 2014, a selection of companies talk us through their highlights of the past 12 months and their hopes for the year ahead.

    Eclipse staging services
    The past year has seen a notable amount of key growth taking place across a variety of disciplines at eclipse Staging Services. Martin Lubach, general manager, tells us more.

    S&S: What have some of the highlights been for eclipse this year?
    2014 has been a year of significant growth and restructure and we have been fortunate enough to work on a host of high profile events. We have also significantly increased our stock, grown our team by 30 per cent, undertaken a major restructure of our operations and strengthened our focus on service and quality. In addition, we have introduced across-the-board Portable Appliance Testing of electrical equipment and have invested heavily in driving up health and safety standards, both internally and in the industry as a whole. All in all it’s been a busy year!

    S&S: Has eclipse made any major investments over the past year?
    Notable purchases include d&b audiotechnik — a comprehensive range of scalable audio products; Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX — purchased as a direct request from Lady Gaga’s production team; Clay Paky Supersharpy, B-Eye K20 and B-Eye K10; PAT Testers; a wide range of cutting edge video equipment and major investment in people and technical expertise.

    Our investments have been made both to support our growth as a company and so we can continue providing customers the latest cutting edge event technology while focusing on safety. The decision to purchase new video and audio stock was made to bring those departments in line with our other disciplines, ensuring our offering remains truly multi-disciplined.

    S&S: What do you feel has changed in the events industry during 2014?
    As a whole I feel that the industry has matured. It’s a much more competitive landscape and we have seen our customers become more discerning, with expectations of higher quality. This has seen eclipse Staging Services strive to improve our service and we pride ourselves on offering a multi-disciplined, turnkey solution where possible. That said, we believe that if a customer wishes to take lighting and video, but has another supplier for audio — or however they make the split — they can take the elements they like.

    S&S: Where have you noticed the most growth over the past year?
    The majority of our growth has come from the corporate and special event sectors. As a group, eclipse has also expanded with the launch of eclipse Venue Services, which offers a combination of in-house audio visual provisioning and full warehouse operations, allowing us to tap into a sector of the industry that we have not previously operated within.

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    Creative Technology
    Andy Reardon, managing director, Creative Technology Middle East, explains how the company has successfully strengthened its offering across the region this year.

    S&S: What has been the most significant development for Creative Technology over the past year?
    One of the main highlights has been the closer partnership of our Qatar and Dubai offices, now working under the Creative Technology Middle East (CT ME) banner. This has allowed CT ME to strengthen itself on many levels, but significantly through developing its project management and technical team. Another key highlight has been delivering some fantastic turnkey projects with clients in Qatar and the UAE.

    S&S: How have you managed to keep ahead of the competition throughout 2014?
    CT ME has continued to provide clients technical specialism in video, which has rewarded us with some exciting projects in 2014. Our single point domain of video has really allowed us to offer advice on the latest video technology and how it can be best developed for key projects.

    S&S: Are there any major changes or purchases you have made as a company this year?
    The development of our two regional offices working under the CT ME partnership has allowed us to deliver projects with much greater technical and human resources. On an equipment level, CT ME increased its inventory and stock by investing in the latest projectors, video screen technology Playback and cameras.

    S&S: What do you feel has changed in the events industry as a whole throughout the past 12 months?
    From a supplier’s perspective, smaller players who offer a full service are much stronger in the event industry. Suppliers that may have normally had a smaller market share are now being awarded larger projects, and we often find that we will be working in collaboration with smaller companies where we offer specialised video and they are managing lighting, audio and rigging. This has not affected the business model for CT ME as we have always maintained our position as a specialist in video.

    We have also noticed that CT ME is also being asked to provide company credentials to be included in more preferred supplier lists. This has been fantastic for the company as a greater opportunity to quote also means a greater opportunity to be awarded projects.

    S&S: What can you tell us about your plans for 2015?
    CT ME has been quoting on some major projects recently and look forward to a busy first quarter of 2015. CT ME is also looking to invest further into equipment and resource which again will have a positive impact in the level of delivery throughout the region.

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    Absen LED
    With 2014 seeing some big plans get underway in Dubai, Alina Yuan, sales manager, Absen LED, reveals more about how the Chinese company intends to make even bigger waves in the Middle East over the next year ahead.

    S&S: How has 2014 been for Absen within the region?
    For the Middle East market — especially this year — it’s been very good for us and we will soon be opening our branch in Dubai, which is under decoration now. Many customers have expressed their happiness with us and our products throughout 2014 — this year we brought in almost nine million dollars of business from the Middle East market. We have a lot of projects in the area such as at Emirates Golf Course, The Beach at JBR and Hollister at Mall of Emirates.

    S&S: Have you seen any market growth in other areas of the Middle East throughout the past year?
    This year we got a big project in Dubai Airport, but we are strong across the whole Middle East market, not just Dubai. In 2014 we had a large order — about 1.5 million dollars — for Qatar.

    S&S: What’s been the biggest product for Absen during 2014 within the regional market?
    This year, we have sold more than 500sqm of our 3.9mm screen in Dubai. This has also been good for the customers as it can allow them to do cross-rental — if they have a big project, they can rent from each other. We also plan to bring two engineers to Dubai to provide the right level of after-sales service and support, which we believe is very important for our customers.

    S&S: What is the company’s overall plan for development in 2015?
    We will be having the launch for our Dubai branch by early 2015, which we will combine with a sales meeting to give special prices to our valued customers. We will also open our warehouse in Jebel Ali Port, and every month we will keep hot-selling products there, as well as rental products. In the Dubai branch once we open, we plan to hire local people for the new facilities alongside staff from across the rest of the world.

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    Al Laith Scaffolding
    Over the last half of 2014, Al Laith has continued to make an impact with the launch of two major products to the region — the Genie SX-180 self-propelled boom lift and its new platform system, Liondeck. Warren Barlow, head of the company’s events division, tells us more about its 2015 plans.

    S&S: What has been the major highlight for Al Laith over the past year?
    Challenges are commonly our highlights, therefore while we are involved in many amazing events produced in the UAE, Sensation tops the bill for us this year and wins the Al Laith award for best newcomer to the region!

    S&S: Are there any major changes or purchases you have made as a company this year and how do you plan to build on these over the next 12 months?
    The confidence to invest and further develop our products and portfolio adds excitement to our work as well as variety, which keeps us at the forefront of events. For example Liondeck, our new platform system, is simple to those that have seen it... “I want that!”

    Further investment and development moving forward is going to be key to retaining our position and in ensuring that there can be variety on offer to our clients.

    S&S: What do you feel has changed in the events industry as a whole this year?
    There is a general upturn in opportunities with the launch of more completed projects or proposed events. The Al Laith portfolio creates a package that is more attractive to clients, coupled with a high level of service and delivery, which sees us remain the first choice for many leading clients.

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    Yamaha professional
    Shinya Uchida, sales and marketing director - professional audio, Yamaha Music Gulf FZE, reveals how 2014 has been a big year for the company in terms of new pro audio products.

    S&S: Tell us about the products Yamaha has launched in 2014.
    It has been an exciting year for Yamaha Professional Audio. 2014 began with the launch of our new generation of MG Series compact mixing consoles, which are suitable for both portable and installation applications.

    Shortly after, at Pro Light + Sound, we introduced the QL series digital mixing consoles — the “little brother” to our CL Series. Available in a 16 channel and 32 channel chassis, the new QL1 and QL5 feature built-in Dugan Automixer, allowing the consoles the ability to control multiple live microphone levels without requiring to manually ‘ride’ individual faders, an on-board Dante network port for flexible system expansion among a host of other features suited for small-to-medium scale live sound and corporate speech events.

    S&S: How has the installation side of business developed during 2014?
    On the installation side, we launched a line-up of EN54-24 compliant voice alarm (VA) versions of our VXC (passive ceiling-mount) and VXS (passive surface-mount) loudspeakers. The VA versions are not only suitable for emergency broadcasts, but deliver excellent sound quality for music reproduction. In September 2014, we added the DBR Series and CBR Series to our portable powered and passive loudspeaker line-ups. The DBR Series is the follow-up to the DSR and DXR Series and is the most portable powered speaker that Yamaha offers.

    S&S: How do you plan to build on Yamaha’s 2014 success next year?
    2015 will see Yamaha Music Gulf FZE opening its professional audio product demonstration and training facility in Dubai, the Yamaha Commercial Audio Centre (Y.C.A.C.). Our customised product and technology training courses are designed to educate anyone interested to learn about Yamaha PA technologies in a relaxed environment. Online registrations for this have already commenced.

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    Procom Middle East
    Rami Harfouch, business development manager, reveals how Procom has been investing across a range of areas, from new gear to new people, throughout 2014.

    S&S: What has 2014 been like in terms of company development at Procom Middle East?
    It can be summarised by two strategic directions: the acquisition of exclusive brands distributorships — Eurotruss, DAS Audio, Philips Selecon/Strand and Showline, Wireless DMX, Capture Sweden — and the acquisition of talent; three senior positions were added in technical sales and design.

    S&S: How do you think the company has managed to keep ahead of the competition?
    Procom is enhancing its product offering, with several new brands to strengthen its position as a one stop shop. It is also strengthening its logistics operation with more warehousing space and an optimised procurement process that allows adequacy of inventory and fast delivery. Procom is now ramping up its acquisition of talent to support its expanding client base in design, supply and install.

    S&S: Where do you feel demand has most increased this year?
    Events companies are increasingly seeking to build their video and graphic projections capabilities. Procom has invested in its graphic mapping capabilities spearheaded by its range of Avolites Media Servers — we can now support industry professionals in their projection needs through equipment supply and training and commissioning. The event industry is also more demanding for high-quality, certified trussing systems, which Procom’s large stock of ‘Made in the Netherlands’ trusses — Eurotruss — is fulfilling in the UAE.

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    Robe Lighting
    Elie Battah, general manager, Robe Middle East Trading LLC, recaps the highlight from a year that saw a major product launch take the spotlight for Robe.

    S&S: What was the major highlight for Robe over the past year?
    The first major ‘soft’ launch of the BMFL Spot — Robe’s Bright Multi-Functional Luminaire — 64 of which were utilised by Lighting Designer Tim Routledge for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. This was a major endorsement of Robe’s newest moving light on one of the highest profile sporting events of the year.

    Other prestigious events on which the first BMFL Spots were used included the launch of David Guetta’s new live show at the Global Gathering EDM festival in the UK (LD Jonathan ‘Leggy’ Armstrong); the 2014 Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles (LD Tom Kenny) and in Area 13 of the Tomorrowland EDM extravaganza in Boom, Belgium.

    The product was then officially launched in a worldwide broadcast on 2nd September 2nd, and Robe is currently in the middle of a global BMFL World Tour, which is getting the product right in front of everyone.

    S&S: How has the BMFL been received so far in the Middle East?
    The BMFL was launched in Dubai as part of the world tour on September 9th. The event was staged at the Dubai Marina and attended by all the major rental companies in Dubai, plus designers and other interested parties. We received excellent feedback on the light output and performance in particular. I have also received some pre-orders from rental companies — so this is all looking very good!

    S&S: Are there any notable changes or expansions that Robe has made this year?
    This year we built the stock levels in Dubai so we can now deliver immediately — even the same day! We have also negotiated a distribution agreement with manufacturers and also have MDG fog from Canada, LPS lasersysteme from Germany, Electron dimmers from Greece and all sorts of power and data cables and accessories on-board. In 2015 we will continue to build and expend, we are getting in bigger quantities of Robe products in stock, in anticipation of a busy few months ahead. Future orders we can only disclose in 2015 when fully completed, but I can say now there is big potential for some serious large deals in the pipeline.

    S&S: What do you feel has changed or improved in the Middle East lighting industry as a whole this year?
    The market in Dubai is becoming much more professional, more co-ordinated and standards continue to get higher. We are seeing that all the Dubai rental companies are busy again on a wide variety of shows and events, and experiencing an increased willingness and interest in investing in high quality equipment.

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    A&O Technology
    Marco Niedermeier, founder and CEO, A&O Technology, takes a look back at what has been a successful year of expansion and investment across the board for the company.

    S&S: What have been the major highlights for A&O over the past year?
    We always consider each project — no matter how great or small — as very special. Our essential objective remains constant: we use light to create unforgettable and emotional moments. We believe that this philosophy has been successful this year in our work on some great projects, e.g. the Burj Al Arab, the National Day in Riyadh or for the illumination of numerous flagpoles across the Middle East.

    But one of the major highlights in 2014 was definitely the launch of our new plasma technology SPELIA. SPELIA is currently one of the most energy-efficient lamps on the market. It impresses with an operating life of up to 50,000 hours and up to 165 lm/W. In April, we placed the product on the European market and are now expanding its distribution to the Middle East.

    In addition to the launch of the new plasma technology we have just introduced a new product for the rental market — the FALCON BEAM 2. This is a new, brilliant searchlight for high-intensity show illumination. With advanced features, this fixture is a versatile ‘rock star’ for touring and event illumination without which no equipment list will be complete.

    S&S: How have you managed to keep ahead of the competition throughout the year?
    That we were able to hold our own and even prevail against stiff competition this year was due not only to the quality and proven track record of our products; the concept of A&O Creative also made a major contribution. For every project we assemble an individual team of experts drawn from our partnership network. Moreover, the customer is encouraged from the very start to participate in the creative process. This procedure has not only ensured that we remain competitive but also helped us to secure further commissions for more extensive projects.

    S&S: Are there any major changes or purchases A&O has made in 2014?
    This year we strengthened the team at our Abu Dhabi office and also resourced the East European branch of A&O Technology. A very special development is the A&O Creative Villa in Abu Dhabi, which we opened in the summer of 2014. The Villa is a location in which we develop and elaborate ideas together with our partners and customers. Thanks in particular to our Abu Dhabi office, we know we can serve the Middle East market in a highly efficient and economic manner. Furthermore, we are able to provide more intensive support from Abu Dhabi to the Asian market. In 2015, A&O Technology will further invest — not only in new lighting technology but also in infrastructure and support as well as expanding our network of locations.

    S&S: What do you feel has changed for the ME events industry in 2014?
    In the entertainment market, the bar has long been set very high and, this year, it was raised still further. Our creative concept was well received in the region as it allowed us to satisfy the often complex demands of our customers in a convincing fashion.

    S&S: What are your plans for 2015?
    The primary intention of A&O Technology is to make a major impact in 2015 with A&O Creative in cooperation with our well-organised network, especially in the field of XXL mega shows. We are confident that we will be able to enter new markets with our new and versatile plasma technology.

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    InnovationS Unlimited ME
    Following heavy investment in AV equipment this year, Markus Jordan, managing partner, recounts how Innovations Unlimited ME has kept its position in the regional market.

    S&S: What has been the highlight for Innovations Unlimited in 2014?
    Without doubt, it has been an amazing year. We grew our team and portfolio and delivered again some of the most prestigious events like the ROTA Gala Dinner or two of the major conferences in Qatar — The UNESCO World Heritage Conference & IATA.

    Besides that, we successfully completed a 2.5-year contract with the New Doha International Airport that included variety of services like event management, operational readiness, project management, logistics, catering and training for 12,000 staff at the new Hamad International Airport.

    We are very proud of this long term engagement with NDIA for which, at peak times, we have deployed up to 200 staff in the year 2012/2013; and which showed our capability to handle any large-scale event. Finally, we celebrated four nominations for the Middle East Event Awards in the categories of Best Special Event, Best Event Design, Best Temporary Structure and Best Event on a Budget.

    S&S: Has Innovations Unlimited made any major investments in 2014?
    We have invested heavily in our AV equipment, for example we became the official L’Acoustics Rental Network Agent in Qatar and now hold the highest possible status (K-Standard) with our KARA System. Furthermore, we are now moving into our new warehouse facilities and have invested in our own transport fleet to guarantee safe and on-time delivery of equipment. Right now, we are in the middle of the season and are currently working on new events. We have positioned ourselves well and the outlook is positive — so we are ready for 2015!

    S&S: What do you feel has changed in the events industry during 2014?
    I would say that two major factors have shaped the events landscape. Firstly, multiple new agencies have entered the Qatari market. Also, tenders are much more budget-driven and most clients use detailed scoring cards to evaluate proposals. Companies will have to adopt quickly, and the impact — especially over the next two to three years — will be significant. It will lead to tougher competition and a natural market consolidation will take place; however, this will offer more opportunities for innovative companies that know how to adopt and to manage change.

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    MediaPro
    George Mathew, operations manager, gives Sound & Stage an overview of how MediaPro has invested in equipment and people in order to reap the maximum effects from a successful 12 months.

    S&S: What would you say has been the major highlight for MediaPro over the past year?
    Our revenue has increased 20 per cent from last year. Also, our Singapore branch has multiplied revenue and staff three-fold over the past year. Our seasonal projects such as the Asianet Movie Awards 2014 and Fashion Forward, along with the prestigious conferences REVCON 2014, MESES 2014 cap the highlights for us.

    S&S: Has MediaPro made any major purchases or changes this year?
    We have invested in large quantities of new ClayPaky Mythos and Super Sharpy fixtures as a first within the region.
    Apart from this, we have also increased our inventory of 3mm LEDs and Christie 20K projectors. A new roofing system from Milos will join early next year.

    S&S: What do you feel has improved in the Middle East events industry as a whole during 2014?
    As the economic boom returns to the Middle East, the production budgets have improved significantly. Also, agencies seem to be much more optimistic when it comes to planning future events with technically complex productions. We are feeling the difference of this most significantly in the quantity and quality of RFPs.

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