Profiles - A Light-Hearted Look at Industry Personalities

Peter Searles

Company secretary, A.C. Lighting Ltd.

No. 91 in a continuing series

Peter Searles

Caricatures by

David Lewis

Peter Searles can be linked back to a long family history in the entertainment business: his great grandfather ran a touring Black and White minstrel troupe, his grandfather managed a theatre, and his mother was a dancer. However, he joined the industry relatively late in life via a rather convoluted and unconventional route.

He knew David (Leggett) and Richard (Floyd) in the very early days, when they were the Alpha Centauri light show - an effects projection oufit working in pubs and clubs. As the psychedelic era waned Alpha Centauri evolved into A. C. Lighting, which developed into a lighting production company working with major touring bands. On occasion, Peter used to help with the get-ins - basically to get into the gigs for free.

In the early seventies, with two partners Peter formed a GRP (glass reinforced plastic - glass fibre) moulding company making everything from car parts to shop fronts. In the early days if David Leggett had no lighting work he would often do some driving or labouring for Peter. However, A.C. Lighting soon started to grow rapidly, giving David little free time and Peter saw much less of both David and Richard as they were all too busy running their respective companies.

In the mid-eighties they met up again when, as if by accident, they became business neighbours. By the end of the eighties A. C. Lighting was needing yet more space and David approached Peter to buy the site his company occupied. This turn of events came at an opportune time as Peter and his partners had decided that they had spent enough time working in the less than pleasant environment of a GRP factory.

Once the deal had been concluded and the cash pocketed (and far too much tax paid!), David asked Peter what he intended to do. Would he like to come and work for AC? Peter seized the opportunity to make such an interesting career change as he approached 40 and started working at A. C. Lighting in 1990 when there were only about a dozen other employees. Although he knew nothing about lighting he was quick to learn and took to the industry like a duck to water.

Over the years Peter has held many varied roles within AC, rising to board level, and seeing the company grow to the size it is today with over 90 employees and becoming one of the most important distribution businesses within the entertainment industry.

Peter says: "During the time that I have been involved in the industry I have witnessed some incredible technological advancements. Back in 1990, 96 channels was considered a powerful desk and it took two strong men to lift it. Now, with the Jands Vista, for instance, a much more manageable desk can control thousands of channels. On a personal level I feel that I have been very lucky to work within such a great industry and with such a great bunch of people. Over the years I have made many good friends and I look forward to many more happy years."

Peter lives in a Buckinghamshire village with his wife of over 25 years and their younger son. His favoured pastimes include collecting antiques, country walks and drinking far too much red wine.

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