Posted in features

The long-term effect of price cutting is becoming the elephant in the event industry.  Pinnacle managing director Heath Freeman summed it up when he said: “Customers are no longer asking ‘what price can you give me?’ – they’re asking ‘what price can you give me in the current climate?'”

Often claimed to be a baromter for the state of the event industry, the staffing sector is…worth casting an eye over.  Pinnacle’s Freeman says his (crewing) sector has taken a substantial hit over the past year: “We have been squeezed to the minimum and it is not currently sustainable in the long term – we are having to use less resources to get the same job done.  There is pressure to cut prices, but it’s a slippery slope and we must stay realistic.  After the turnaround, prices will have to go up.”

Freeman says that he will need to convince companies that you get what you pay for when it comes to crewing, and that his profit is reinvested.  “I don’t think any crewing companies are in the business of ripping people off,” he says.  “We offer a very simple service.  However, I see some start-ups offering low prices, and I know that they can’t be putting in the right training.

“Businesses are starting to realise the value of using a good staffing company.  We have people who have been trained to undertake a wide range of jobs, which means that we can afford to take fewer people to a job and get the same work done,” he adds.

It seems quality still holds value in these tough economic times, but the long-term effects of customers demanding added value and low costs are far from decided.

To read a full version of this feature go to: www.eventmagazine.co.uk

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In these economic times, expectations of suppliers at public events are steadily rising.  Everyone is expecting value for money, hiring fewer crew and lead times are getting shorter.  But, I believe there are factors that clients can look for in suppliers that show that they operate professionally, go that extra mile and meet expectations.

At Pinnacle we never forget that clients are paying for a managed service and should not have to spend time chasing crew to get the job done.  Crew therefore need to be self-motivated, and team leaders should be professional and trained in how to lead an effective crew.

We have learnt that it all starts with the process of interviewing prospective crew members.  We find that putting together a successful crewing team is as much about personality, self-belief and pride, as anything else. 

Of course, crew have to have a willingness to learn.  As well as the obvious health and safety training, crew must understand what clients expect of them.  At Pinnacle we achieve this by working with clients to provide training into the various disciplines – such as staging, lighting, AV, power – that are encountered at public events.  This enables clients to rely on crew to do so much more than merely carry heavy kit.

In addition, regular client contact and feedback should form part of crew evaluation.  We organise on-site management visits and have account managers who constantly keep in touch with their clients.

Taken together, the result of proper training and client feedback is consistency of crew quality, and client confidence that even when things go wrong the crewing company will come up trumps every time.  


Heath Freeman

Managing Director

Pinnacle Crew

For full version of this feature go to www.eventmagazine.co.uk

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These days everyone in our industry is looking at costs.  But what if there were a way to save money without compromising efficiency?  Heath Freeman, managing director of Pinnacle Crew believes there is – indeed that efficiency can even be improved – by using on-site crews to their full potential.


What I’m about to suggest won’t cost you a penny, and could have a real impact on productivity on-site.  I would go even further and suggest it can actually save you money.  It is nothing that we don’t all already know.  It is just something that slips by the wayside when we are pressurised and deadlines are looming.  It’s the creation of a true team, working with the same objectives in mind.  

In any walk of life, the key to building a successful team is the knowledge of what the team is trying to achieve and how it is going to reach this goal.

Applied to our industry, this principle of creating a unified goal-orientated team requires the proper integration of the production team and outside crew.

If this integration is achieved, then my experience is that the crew will work harder, and are more willing to go the extra mile for clients because they feel they are doing a job that is important and valued.

Most importantly, the client will save time in the long run – remember crew are paid by the hour and the more responsibility they are given, the less they will require instructions on site.

We have proved this with many clients, who now send fewer – extremely expensive – production staff on site, since they know our crew can take responsibility and see a task or event through to completion.

Underlining that, our experience has also shown that crew are not always used to their full potential.  It should be remembered that crew are a resource, and, if used correctly, a very valuable resource.

Crews work on hundreds of jobs in a year.  This means that they have a unique insight into operations on-site as they have seen numerous and perhaps similar jobs executed in a variety of ways.    In addition, crew come from many different backgrounds.  We have plumbers, electricians, chippies, firemen and engineers working for us.  They have a wealth of knowledge that may be useful at no additional cost.

But before this situation can be reached, I believe there are three they key steps that need to be taken at every event.

First, introduce crew to all personnel and decision makers on site.  This can save time during the job since the crew will know exactly who to speak to when something unexpected happens or they need advice.

Secondly, the crew should receive a good briefing. This may seem obvious, but how can the crew possibly appreciate what the client is trying to achieve without knowledge?  A short, detailed briefing means that the crew know exactly what is expected of them and what the deadlines are. Time spent at this stage will save time in the long run by empowering crew and encouraging them to take responsibility.

The third factor that can be very valuable is a familiarization walk through of the venue.  This will highlight such things as potential health and safety hazards, and access routes where crew may even be able to suggest alternatives since it is very likely that they have worked at this venue before and have found better or more efficient methods.

And efficiency is what it is all about.  Nobody can deny that our industry is suffering from the credit crunch.  But if we can all work more efficiently, and cost-efficiently, using everyone on the team to their full potential, then I believe the industry will not only survive, but be ready to prosper when times get better.

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Posted in features

I was delighted to see my comments relating to how tight deadlines in our industry prevent improvements in health and safety in your Health and Safety feature.

Explaining that more fully, I would like to add that in an ideal world, improvements in health and safety could be achieved by the entire chain of suppliers that make up an event team getting together to do an on site visit well before the job.  This would ensure that all health and safety protocols are in place.  However, as one supplier within this large chain of suppliers, we realize that this is not always possible due to time constraints and budgets. 

My solution to these difficulties is therefore drawn from the real world.  Realistically, it should be possible for all suppliers, together with the venue management or production team, to do a short but detailed walk around the venue just 10 minutes prior to the start of the job to identify potential health and safety hazards.  I believe this would be a true attempt to take health and safety issues and the risks we all face seriously.

Health and safety is all our responsibility, so with a more integrated and hands on approach I believe we can all work together to create a safer site.


Heath Freeman

Managing Director

Pinnacle Crew

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Posted in Press releases

Pinnacle Crew’s managing director, Heath Freeman took a big plunge on September 27 with a Channel Swimming Association accredited swim.

As part of a four-man relay team called The Marlow River Buoys, he swam the English Channel from Dover to Cap Gris Nez near Calais.  The team raised £3000 for two charities – CLIC Sargent (Helping Children with Cancer) and the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution).

The exact date of the swim was not known until the actual day as it depended on currents and weather conditions.

Freeman, who did the last leg of the swim and took the team to its goal of landing on the French coast at Cap Gris Nez, explains:

“We were incredibly lucky as the weather on September 27 was fantastic.

“The distance of the swim is 22-miles as the crow flies, but due to the currents and winds on the day we actually swam 29 miles, completing the crossing in 9 hours and 29 minutes.”

This unofficial time makes the swim the fastest in the last three years.  Once confirmed, and if no other team completes a faster swim in 2009, the team will be presented with an award by the Channel Swimming Association for the Fastest Channel Swim of 2009.

Picture (below) shows Heath Freeman (second right) with his team mates from The Marlow River Buoys.

Press enquiries; please contact:                                                          October 2009

Jonquil Simons, The Simons Partnership

Tel: 07860 466959   email: jonquilsimons@aol.com

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