Friday the 13th of March will forever be remembered as a dark day for Australia’s event and entertainment industry but for one Sydney-based company, the day marks the beginning of an incredible transformation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had announced a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people, halting the industry and downing tools of businesses such as Sutherland Shire stage designers and engineers Stagekings.
“We were in Melbourne building a 30m spike with a 7m globe for the Robbie Williams and Miley Cyrus concert at the Formula One Grand Prix, and were also building the Ninja Warrior set, then the ban came into place,” Stagekings managing director Jeremy Fleming said.
“Within 48 hours we had phone calls cancelling millions of dollars of work. We had 23 staff members, and were facing having to put them all off.”
Survival mode kicked in and together with co-founder and wife Tabitha Fleming and Stagekings head of production Mick Jessop, the team created a winning plan.
“Mick happens to be a hobby furniture designer [and] we saw there was a sudden need for desks suitable for working from home,” Mr Fleming said.
“Mick designed [the IsoKing desk] overnight and by Tuesday morning we were taking photos of them. Tabitha, designed an e-commerce site and in the first day we had sold 30 desks.
“We really just repurposed everything we had and everyone we know. The first day Mick and I were in the workshop actually making them but within a day, we couldn’t manage so we called back six staff who we had told we couldn’t keep on. By the end of the week all our existing staff were back.”
“There are more than 500,000 people out of work in the events industry so we put out the call and we’re now six months in with 70 new employees.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson said the government’s recent $1.5 billion investment in Australian manufacturing recognised the country’s need for more growth in this sector.
“We know that one job created in manufacturing creates three to four in other parts of the economy, so the opportunity for overall jobs growth is immense,” Mr Pearson said.