Walking TPi through the history of the company was Jamie Webb, one of the company’s first employees. “Many of us that started Silverbox were from smaller businesses that most likely would not have survived COVID-19,” began Webb.
“I was made redundant in September 2020 after being put on furlough for 10 months and many others in the Silverbox team have a similar story.” With a surplus of event professionals at a loose end, the team that eventually became Silverbox opted to pool their resources, experience and equipment stock to create a new venture.
Now the company has become a one-stop shop with a packed warehouse of rental gear and a rehearsal studio, in Newbury. “In the initial stage it was a case of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck,” laughed Webb as he described the multifaceted nature of Silverbox’s offering.
“We all have different backgrounds in the industry. Jim, [Silverbox Cofounder] and I came from a production rental business, whereas [fellow Cofounder] Adam came from more of a Touring and installation background. So, we could look at multiple revenue streams from the beginning.”
With the live events industry returning, Silverbox Hire division has been busy with numerous projects, and this side of the business is something Webb believes will continue to grow. “‘We’re also looking forward to expanding our work in the touring and concert world as we continue to add to our team and inventory.”
The company offers a wide variety of world-class audio systems along with a considerable stock of leading brands in lighting, LED, laser and effects systems. Aside from the rental business, it’s the company’s studio offering that has been turning heads within the industry. With a rapid return of live events, there has been an overwhelming demand for rehearsal spaces. “I think what has appealed to many is that Silverbox is a completely new unit and had been unused until we moved in,” stated Webb.
“We’ve already welcomed Gary Newman, The Shires, Don Broco, Kula Shaker and Razorlight for rehearsals and all that have used the space have commented about how clean it is and how convenient the load-in is. We even had Midge Ure featured on ITV News in our studio. We’ve also acoustically treated the space so it sounds fantastic.” The location of the studio is also very appealing, both relative to London and also the fact that we’re well serviced in Newbury by local shops, suppliers and catering as well as fantastic parking for trucking and tour buses. The space is 23m by 23m and able to accommodate an academy-level production.
Webb explained that there are already plans in the pipeline to extend the space to 23m by 30m to accommodate stadium size tours and stage shows along with increased overhead rigging capabilities and infrastructure to match. “We’ve had a great deal of interest and have bookings all the way into next year,” Webb stated, adding that due to the “nature of the business”, they get just as many last-minute queries from people looking to use the space at short notice.
With the increased interest in Silverbox, the company has grown from its five founders and now employs over 20 people, with the intention of doubling its staff by the end of the year. “When we’re feeling the pressure I often encourage our team to take stock of the fact that Silverbox is a remarkable success story in what has been a nightmare for the past two years for the industry,” stated Webb.
To close, Webb spoke of Silverbox’s latest collaboration with the charity 3T. The studio was used for the final production day of the project, which saw a group of 20 young people come into the studio and put together a live show. Diversity and equality within the live events industry is something that Silverbox as a company is incredibly passionate about. As a case and point its warehouse is headed up by Su Pretty who has over 15 years events and theatre experience as well as the fact that 50% of its warehouse team is female.
“AJ [Sutherland, Founder of 3T] called me a few months before and told me about the project,” Webb recalled. “I was sold on the concept straight away. Especially with so many people leaving the industry, we have a duty to ensure we are bringing new people in to take their place and why not also ensure that this new generation is inclusive & more diverse?”
As well as providing the studio for the production day, Silverbox supplied all the LED screens, rigging, motors, PA, consoles and even an audio engineer to help the students during the day. “A number of our staff also came in during their free time to lend a hand,” stated Webb. “We couldn’t get behind the 3T incentive enough and it’s already showing results as one of the women who was on the course this year was working as a Stage Manager at Download.”
This article originally appeared in issue #270 of TPi, which you can read here.