Promo Image Show
Unit 8, Reynolds Industrial Park
Tel: 01733 554950
Fax: 01733 892807
Over the next few months we will be introducing the team behind the award-winning services of Pearce Hire.
Peterborough based, but with clients across the UK, where better to start than with Shaun Pearce, MD, founder and owner of Pearce Hire. We have a chat with Shaun as he reflects on the company being over 30 years old and still delivering the goods!
“Sitting here now I wonder where on earth the time has gone since I set up Pearce Hire - it was a long while ago! I’d been a mobile DJ and building lighting kit since I was 13. At 21, having completed my apprenticeship as an electrician, I set up as Pearce Electrical using my interest in lighting and sound equipment and electrical contracting to kick start the business. I provided technical support and equipment to bands, spurred on from what I saw at the Peterborough Country Music Festival. I’ve always loved being outdoors and so providing kit to outdoor festivals ticked all the boxes for me! There was really no other company offering these services in the area, and so I seized every job and contact I could get my hands on! By 1988/89 Pearce Hire was born.
It’s hard to pick out any specific stand out moments in my career – I work hard and just get on with the job. 30 years on and I still love what I do! However, early highlights include the Tiffany Ball and doing sound for Edwin Starr and thinking this is amazing!! Also working with an unknown (at the time) band called Radiohead - what a terrific bunch of guys.
As we became established we ended up powering projects in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda and the bonus of white water rafting the River Nile! Doing a one off Maxi Priest gig in Papua New Guinea was quite special, using local kit and crew yet we somehow pulled it off, to the amazement of the US led production, it’s not every day you have to change the speakers in the monitors whilst the band are still performing, thankfully! And we even took some time out to go diving for a few days afterwards – some precious time off – I should have learnt then that time off is rare and precious!! Glastonbury in the 90s was a moment too…. I was lucky I missed the muddy years! And not forgetting the big raves, Raindance, Pleasuredome, Perception, and many more!
Basically, I love anything with a challenge and there is no better example of this than our our stints out in Doha in 2010/2011 when we were contracted to manage the entire power distribution plus the supply kit and crew system for the ‘Doha Tribeca Film Festival’. When you work on a project that’s long and challenging it can also be incredibly rewarding, and there no feeling like it when it all comes together!
More recently, I take enormous pride in being able to work alongside my son Jake Vernum and the contribution he makes to Pearce Hire whilst he also establishes his own career as an LD – I’m delighted the young generation of my family is interested in the business! Recent acknowledgments and wins at some of the key industry awards is also a big boost for the company and a testament to the extraordinarily hard-working team I have working here at Pearce Hire.
Providing installation services for the Coca Cola Beat Box for the 2012 London Olympics was a challenging experience due to time constraints, where we installed the power distribution, specialist lighting and the audio system. Being involved in that was a once in a generation opportunity for the company.
Any highlights I can recall for Pearce Hire have generally been projects and productions which have been incredibly hard work. In all honesty, it’s the people I work alongside they are the lifeblood of the industry, the jobs we win, the challenges we are set, and proving it is all do-able which really drives me. Delivering a good job, on time, within budget, no matter what the curve balls – and making it happen – well that’s the nature of the industry isn’t it?
I’m very proud that Pearce Hire is still owner operated and holding its own alongside some of the larger corporates which have sprung up in the industry over the past 30 years.
Time away from work with my family is precious and limited - I have a very understanding wife and 4 amazing children – I love snowboarding and have a passion for steam engines and steam railways – generally it’s about being outside, the smell and the atmosphere of the outdoors – it’s probably what drove me into a career focussed on outdoor events and festivals and the vibe of those environments!
The best piece of advice I’ve been given was from my Mum ‘you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it – and to always be honest and fair. My Dad told me never go into partnership as once you do – you can’t make your own decisions!
And for anyone going into the industry now – my advice would be to knuckle down and get on with it – whilst always being polite as manners cost nothing. And…. if you don’t know – then ask!
I hope that Pearce Hire will still be thriving in 10 years-time and that there will be a long-standing legacy and trusted reputation in the Pearce Hire company name, long after I have retired!!
Published in TPi Magazine - January 2018
At this year’s Production Futures, Pearce Hire welcomed 18-year-old Zack Batchelor as the newest addition to its warehouse team. TPi sat down with him and General Manager Jim Brown, to discuss his first few months on the job.
Production Futures has a mission; to give students and young freelancers the chance to network with established industry professionals and get their foot in the door. One of this year’s success stories came from Peterborough’s lighting, audio, rigging and power specialist, Pearce Hire. During the event, Managing Director Shaun Pearce and General Manager Jim Brown found the fresh talent they were looking for in fellow attendee, Zack Batchelor, who was given a contract within days of the event.
“We went to Production Futures this year with the knowledge that we wanted to employ someone,” explained Brown. “We met a lot of interesting people but the stand out by far was Zack. After he left our stand, Shaun and I both agreed that he was the guy we were looking for. Within 2 or 3 days we got the contract sorted and he’s been in the warehouse ever since!”
Currently, Batchelor is working as lighting and rigging trainee for Pearce Hire, learning the process from when a job leaves the warehouse to when it comes back through the door. At Pearce Hire, all trainees start in the warehouse, preparing the jobs to go out. From there, Brown added, they progress to more complex jobs with more responsibility and eventually become fully fledged technicians.
Brown recalled how Zack had driven an extra 2 hours to get to the event, after the A1 was closed due to an accident, saying it was “just one example of his dedication.” Brown added: “He presented himself very well and showed an awareness of not just what he already knew, but what he was keen to learn.”
Batchelor’s interest in live events was sparked at secondary school - just down the road from his future employer’s HQ, coincidentally. He was involved initially in school productions, relishing the teamwork, and “seeing how all the pieces came together.”
Batchelor told TPi: “It led up to the biggest production our school had ever seen for an end of year talent show.” Far from a run-of-the-mill school production, Batchelor and his class mates worked on the show for 6 months, bringing in 40 lighting fixtures and a custom projection screen. They even experimented with projection mapping. Inspired, Batchelor joined the Young Technicians Scheme, which gives 11 to 19-year-olds the chance to experience technical production, teaching sound, lighting, rigging, video and mixing. Batchelor started off as a student, but later went on to tutor in the scheme.
With formal education behind him, Batchelor left sixth form to fully immerse himself in freelance work. Fast-forward to Production Futures in October 2017, and Batchelor made the trip to Wakefield’s Production Park. Some traffic trouble, a little networking and 1 job contract later, 2 months down the line, the Pearce Hire office still think it’s hilarious they “travelled 150 miles only to employ someone who lived down the road from our offices,” according to Brown. He summarised why he likes paticipating in Production Futures, saying: “You are not there to sell anything. You can just have a chat with the youngsters and discover what their challenges are. It’s a great atmosphere, a chance to celebrate the industry and give some advice for those following in your footsteps. It really reminded me of why I got into this line of work.”
“This was my first year at Production Futures but I was really impressed,” Batchelor chimed in, echoing: “All the exhibitors were interested in what you had to say. There was a massive diversity of companies and they all had a great attitude, especially to someone like myself who was quite new to the industry. You get a feel for what it’s like to work in the environment and see yourself as part of it.”
Pearce Hire has already put Batchelor on several training courses and he has been out on a few corporate jobs over the festive period. “I’m learning the whole time,” enthused Batchelor. “Just rigging up a job I get to do something I have never done before and it’s really interesting.” Brown jokingly warned: “He’s going to be very busy especially after the new year as our calendar is already filling up quite nicely. He will soon enough get to discover the ‘joys’ of festival sites and other perks of the job. It’s going to be a busy 2018 for him.”
To close, Batchelor shared some advice with those hoping to follow in his footsteps: “Grab every opportunity and don’t be afraid to talk to people further on in their careers! They can give you good advice and, who knows…sometimes a job.”
They say you reap what you sow, and this more than a fair analogy when considering the intern and apprenticeship programme that sits at the core of Pearce Hire’s award-winning production services.
Since Pearce Hire first committed to an intern development programme with local Further Education College - Peterborough Regional College - over 4 years ago, the main Pearce Hire team has expanded with a number of permanent members of staff who have been ‘home grown’ via the project.
The internship programme at Pearce Hire is headed up by Jim Brown, Warehouse Manager, and students are given the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience of working at the HQ of this busy rental production.
Brown picks up the story: “This year there have been some new requirements set down for the students and their course work, and because we acknowledge the value the intern programme brings to Pearce Hire on a number of levels, then we were more than happy to adapt our structure to suit.”
As a result, throughout 2017, Pearce Hire has embarked on a number of initiatives to nurture young talent in the production industry. In the first instance, the company delivered a 4-month rolling programme of 1-week placements for over twenty 1st Year students at PRC, who have each participated in 30-hours work experience. During these intense one-week placements the students gained a first-hand understanding of what happens behind the scenes of this extremely busy production and installation company; servicing and prepping kit, and working as fully integrated members of the team fulfilling warehouse and workshop duties.
“We have long lamented the limited availability of trained technicians coming into the industry so with this programme we’ve put our money where our mouth is and opened our company up to these enthusiastic, young ‘technicians in training’ to allow them to see what it is all about,” continues Brown. “Not only is there the CSR aspect to this initiative, more importantly we are helping to nurture the next generation’s talents, skills, and hopefully instil ‘best practice’ in their formative years.”
“Frankly speaking, these short sharp week-long internships not only provide real-life experience for the students, they provide Pearce Hire with a number of ‘long format’ interviews where we can see the students in action, see how quickly they grasp things, what they show a real aptitude for, and see their potential as possible future team members in our close knit, hard working team.”
“Given the cyclical peaks and troughs of the core sectors we work in, it also enables us to build up a crew database, which offers us the potential for offering students seasonal work, where a lot of the relevant but time-consuming induction work is done and they already have a familiarity of the company and its ethos, the warehouse layout, and the actual projects we are working towards. Which is becoming even more important as we get busier and busier – this year we have provided services to over 2,000 events.”
The intern system created by Pearce Hire has paid dividends as permanent team members have joined following their intern experience in recent years. Dave Richardson – one of the very first interns to come to Pearce Hire from PRC, and an alumnus of the BTEC Extended Diploma in Music Technology course has now been working at Pearce Hire for over 4 years and is a Junior Technician. Jake Langham is a more recent addition to the team and he brings an expertise in lighting following his graduation from the BTEC Level 3 Production Arts.
For the past 18 months, Chris Mear has been part of the Pearce Hire team on an Electrical Installation Apprenticeship for one day a week, as part of his City & Guilds 3-year course, and is currently part of the Hire department team whilst on a short hiatus from his apprenticeship. Comments Mear “I got my inspiration for working in the industry whilst I was still at school, working on amateur dramatic productions where kit was hired from Pearce Hire. I badgered Pearce Hire for holiday work over the years and now I am officially an employee of Pearce Hire as part of a Local Council and Government sponsored initiative. I couldn’t have been luckier to have a local company such as Pearce Hire interested, and enthusiastic about supporting the next generation of technicians!”
Over Summer 2017, Pearce Hire also took on an international approach with its development of younger technicians in the industry. Pearce Hire has a close working relationship with Amptown Cases in Germany, and for a fortnight in the summer, Amptown’s apprentice Bennet Liebermann joined the Pearce Hire team in Peterborough, gaining valuable insight into the workings of one of Amptown’s busy production customers. Bennet is currently in his final year of his apprenticeship and was offered the opportunity as part of the Erasmus + initiative which is a European Union funded programme running for 30 years across 33 participating programme countries. This youth exchange programme allows apprentices to gain valuable work experience in another EU country as part of their vocational qualification.
And as the busiest year on record for Pearce Hire draws to a close, the recent Production Futures event has resulted in yet another young addition to the Pearce Hire team. Jim Brown explains: “we exhibited at Production Futures for a second year running as it provides an excellent opportunity for us to meet students outside our immediate geographical area and talk about their aspirations in the industry. As a business, Pearce Hire is in a period of growth and we were looking to recruit a young, enthusiastic individual immediately – someone who was at the start of their career who we could invest in, and develop their pre-existing skills. It was here that we met Zack Batchelor, who actually lives locally to Pearce Hire and has now joined us in the role of Lighting and Rigging Trainee. Zack impressed us the first time we met him at Production Futures, and following a more intensive interview back at base, we snapped him up! He is enthusiastic, a fast learner, and chomping at the bit to get started in this industry. The perfect candidate for Pearce Hire!”
With all this new talent in the Pearce Hire team, and a number of shortlisting and finalist accolades for Pearce Hire at a number of industry awards taking place early next year, there is no doubt that Pearce Hire is in an excellent position to take on all the challenges and production requirements of 2018.
Shaun Pearce, MD of Pearce Hire sums it up: “2017 has been an exceptional year for Pearce Hire and we are delighted to have such an impressive group of young talent now imbedded in our team. Jake, Chris, and now Zack are now fully integrated into the team and we know that we are in a strong position to continue to offer excellent standards of production service to all our clients. The younger technicians, crew and students who we work with throughout the year are a major reason why we are on such an expansion drive. We are looking ahead with great enthusiasm to 2018 and hope to celebrate another record year of business!”