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Exciting times at Protec with continued growth amidst a busy season

UAE – The company that already owns one of the world’s largest event rental stocks that include the latest equipment in lighting, video, audio, rigging and trussing, scenic and staging, automation and SFX, conference equipment, robotics and motion tracking, has once more invested heavily in new technology and equipment over a busy season in 2017.

The season has seen Protec at the core of some truly exceptional events that has taken them all across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The year was kicked off by the multiple award-winning IDEX opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi, one of the season’s highlights. This is a unique and truly spectacular show that the company has produced since 2013 and seen live by almost 75,000 people and broadcast to millions of television viewers and that doesn’t include the enormous social media engagement across multiple platforms!

The next few months saw the company’s involvement in events of every kind, from conferences to concerts and everything in between. The end of season’s highlight was another spectacular and enormous success in the form of the Dubai edition of Unite with Tomorrowland for which the company delivered the entire scenic and staging, lighting, audio, video, rigging and backline. Having said that, Protec hasn’t actually had an end of season as what is normally a quiet summer, has turned out to be a very busy one with the company delivering events non-stop across the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.

Meanwhile, on the back of this busy year, the company has recently made some exciting new investments again. Lakin is positive that the new investments will encourage the events designed in the region to take it up a notch or three.

Peter Jones, Protec’s special projects HoD said: “We’ve recently invested in Notch, another exciting video graphics tool that has been designed to ease the process for interactive content and live visual effects. It’s a great visual effects engine for live events and what I also like about it is the fact that it integrates into all our existing systems like BlackTrax and our d3 servers for instance. From the way the events are being designed these days in the Middle East, I’m fairly sure we are going to be using this system a lot.” Another interesting system that’s been added to Peter’s department is Bottoms Up. “The popularity of our robots has shot through the roof over the last year and having anticipated this trend we increased our stock which was a good move as we found out. While our robots have been used in many ways, I’ve found that the most popular is the bar service. So we have invested in a clever system called Bottom’s Up which measures drinks portions with superb accuracy. What also helps is that it is very quick and there is no spillage. This is really going to help when we have larger numbers of guests lining up to get a drink from our robobars,” Peter added.

The company also strengthened its lighting and audio departments. Aaron Russ, Protec’s lighting HoD said: “We placed an order for 96 Robe Pointe and 48 Robe Spikie fixtures which are expected to be delivered in October. We have noticed that the Pointe is becoming more popular on tour riders so to cater for that demand we have ordered 96 fixtures. They are a great beam light but also crosses over into the spot category giving you a nice light weight (15kg), compact, multi purpose fixture. The Spikie is a new release from Robe. It has a powerful LED light source with colour mixing which is something a lot of beam fixtures lack. It is super lightweight, coming in at just under 8kg and energy efficient with a peak power draw of 100 Watts and being LED, it only uses the power it needs at that moment, unlike discharge fixtures that are at full load constantly. It also has a neat beam splitter to give a modern twist on the old school flower effect. I am really excited to get these things out on a show! Also on the list is 48 Clay Paky Scenius Unico. These take all the good bits of the Mythos, Scenius Spot and Scenius Profile and squash them all into one tidy package. The fixture is a true hybrid, operating as a beam, spot, profile and wash light. Coupled with a 1400w Osram discharge lamp, they pack a huge amount of power. These have boosted our existing stock of Scenius Profile, that have proved so popular. We can hardly keep them in the warehouse.” Russ also added the fact that the company has taken stock of six new MDG Atmosphere hazers that he said would eventually replace the company’s DF50 / MVS hazers. “These things are the 'Rolls Royce' of hazers. The machines use CO2 or Nitrogen as an atomiser for the haze fluid which not only gives a super fine haze that hangs for a very long time but also makes them super quiet as there are no air or fluid pumps,” Russ added.

Ed Ross, Protec’s audio HoD was equally excited with his department taking stock of the new Syva Colinear audio system from L-Acoustics. He says, “It is a great system to use for medium-sized corporate events. It is a slick and corporate friendly ground stack system (which can also be flown), that looks much better than your average speakers on sticks. It is also rather slim, so good for sightlines especially when it comes to corporate events and exhibitions where elegance and discretion are important. The system is optimized for ultra-wide horizontal coverage with extended throw capability. We’ve barely had it delivered and tested and it’s already out the door on events which actually doesn’t surprise me.”

However, like CEO Stephen Lakin has always maintained throughout the company’s 18 year history, his biggest asset he insists, are his people. When asked about what makes Protec so special, Lakin replied: “We are not just the typical audio visual equipment rental company. Anyone can throw some gear into a box, but it takes real creative vision and skill sets to transform that box into an environment that people want to inhabit. At the end of the day, gear is gear, it's the people behind the gear that make a show worth remembering.”

The Protec team, led by a team of individual experts who have an average experience of over 14 years in the UAE alone, is divided into the various disciplines required for its productions. “This streamlines our work efficiency, allowing us to achieve greater success,” justifies Lakin. With this at the core of his plans, he has recently strengthened his already experienced and skilled team with some notable industry professionals, some of whom in fact (no surprise here), have worked for him in the past. “Richard Bellia, our new managing Director used to work for me in South Africa and Brunei and his vast experience and knowledge has already begun to reflect on our management systems. He has great skill sets that he has sharpened over the years I have known him. His years of experience in many different technical roles such as production designer, audio engineer, lighting designer, production manager, event producer, graphic designer and technical director will be extremely useful in his new role with us. We’ve recently also taken on ten very experienced professionals to reinforce our project management team as well as our video, robotics and design departments. With these new additions, we have grown to a 147 strong team and with all of our equipment and services coming from under one roof, our capability of raising the bar and creating truly extraordinary event experiences with the highest international standards of quality is guaranteed,” Lakin adds.

In addition to Bellia, Protec has also further strengthened its senior management team by taking on Craig Wilson, Stefan Cebula, Matt Cashmore along with Martin Read and Ed Jarman. For several years Martin, who has a strong background in technical production, held the position of managing director of Blank Canvas Events in the UK before moving to Dubai in 2012. He is Protec’s new operations director with over 25 years of experience in the events industry covering North America, Europe, UK and the UAE. Ed Jarman, Protec’s new Business Development Director and Head of Broadcast brings another 26 years of global work experience to Protec, having worked in Capital Radio, Creative Technology and freelancing as a studio engineer, production manager, video engineer and multi camera director, having toured extensively with most of the world’s biggest artistes.

The company has also gained official accreditation for ISO 14001-2015, ISO 9001-2015, BS OHSAS-18001-2007 and as such, its commitment includes an overarching understanding of sustainability. The company now intends to maximise the positive environmental, social and economic legacies of its activities and to minimise any negative impacts. To achieve this, it will give sustainability considerations equal importance to logistical, creative and financial aspects of its planning and business practices.

It has been a busy year so far for a company that never seems to stop with its growth. When Lakin was asked what the rest of the year was looking like and if he had any new tricks up his sleeve, he just smiled: “This is why we love doing what we do. There’s always something new to look forward to but let’s wait for tomorrow to arrive in its own time and I’m sure we’ll have more to share.”

21st September 2017

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