Pearce Hire Managing Director: Shaun Pearce

Pearce Hire Managing Director recaps the past six months since winning Favourite Power Supply Company at the TPi Awards and the impact of COVID-19 on the live events industry.

What did it mean to win Favourite Power Supply Company at the TPi Awards?

“We’d been in the top five since the TPi Awards started, but never managed to clinch the award, so it was a relief to finally win. Not only for myself and the team, but also my son, Jake, who has been immensely supportive of Pearce Hire as far back as I can remember. I am very proud of how he has followed in my footsteps and has very much overtaken me in the industry. Winning the award was not the only surprise of the night, as Jake also announced to me that I was going to become a grandad!”

Until March, what was in store for 2020?

“Riding the wave of the TPi Awards win, we were set for a very busy Summer and our books were already showing an increase from the previous year. We had taken on more project managers and warehouse staff, as well as squeezing in more office desks, computers and new equipment to meet the increasing demand.”

What impact has COVID-19 had on your business?

“It’s been disastrous. We lost over £2m off the books in four weeks and we’ve lost 90% of our annual work. Like other businesses in our industry, we haven’t qualified for grants or any rates relief. We had to make 11 staff redundant due to lack of work and it’s not getting better. I’m concerned, not just for us, but for the entire industry. I’ve witnessed our industry become highly skilled, technically proficient and professional over the past 40 years and its future now hangs in the balance. That’s not right; the industry has paid its way, introduced standards, created training facilities, yet we are not recognised by the UK government as a ‘viable’ industry.”

Have you been involved in any alternative events?

“Our regular client, Deer Shed Festival, organised a socially-distanced camping weekend with 300-plus pitches, which we were involved in. My main takeaway was the viability of the project. We helped by reducing our costs and the organiser drafted in his family to do a lot of site work, but if they had to pay commercially for all the services, it wouldn’t have been possible. Deer Shed put something on against the odds, but it proved that socially distanced events are simply uneconomical to run.”

Have you run any extra training during the lockdown?

“We have been running BS7909 courses in conjunction with James Eade. The brainchild of our General Manager, Jim Brown, most of the attendees are seasoned events people who want to update their qualifications so they can broaden their scope. These courses are non-profit making – we do them to support our industry while the warehouse is not busy.”

What do the coming months look like for Pearce Hire?

“We have some projects in October – power services for the antiques fair at the East of England Show ground, venue electrical testing during half-term and rigging for a Sky boxing event at Peterborough Arena. We only have one job booking in for November and one a comedy festival set for December – but that depends on COVID-19 restrictions. We also have the long-term COVID-19 facility rentals, without which we would be at risk of going under. It’s simply not enough to pay our current wages and the overheads.”