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Unit 8, Reynolds Industrial Park
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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!”
Published in Lighting & Sound International - October 2017
Name, age, place of study & course?
Jake Langham, 19, Peterborough Regional College, BTEC Level 3 Production Arts
What attracted you to this business?
I lived two doors down from a freelance LD who was mates with my Dad, Dad would occasionally get roped in as a 'box pusher' for an event and I would go along to the venue, sit in the corner and watch in awe! When I was about 12, the LD asked me to run the desk for him while he focussed the kit, and eventually he got me helping out with lighting amateur shows for a local venue. With that bit of knowledge and the confidence I gained, I was hooked on this business and decided to apply for a part-time job at the Key Theatre, Peterborough. It was here that I got some broader experience in lighting, sound and stage management. At the end of the day, nothing beats the feeling of setting up an event from an empty room or field and making something magical happen.
What do you think of the course you've studied?
The natural progression from my ad hoc introduction to the industry was to achieve some formal qualifications to improve my knowledge and fill in the gaps I'd missed while learning-by-doing. The Theatre Production course at Peterborough Regional College (PRC) has been incredibly helpful with this; it guided me into what aspect of live events I wanted to focus on and was most sidled at. The two-year course is based on a mix of hands-on experience, case studies and practical assignments with reflective essays. The more formal parts of the coursework covers areas such as show design, prop design, health & safety and general business/budgeting skills to help us be successful if we chose to become freelance.
What work experience have you had so far?
Since I was at school I have worked at the Key Theatre - initially as a spot op before progressing to stage management; I was working there pretty much full-time before starting my course at PRC. I then continued on a freelance basis at the theatre whilst studying, As part of the coursework, there was an optional opportunity to apply for work in the industry. I wasn't going to turn that down, and I was lucky enough to be offered an internship at Pearce Hire. I must have done something right, because at the end of my course, Pearce Hlre offered me a job as 'Lighting and Rigging Trainee'. That was a year ago, and since then I've been all over the country working on a huge variety of festivals and events. The company has a wide range of clients so I've been on the streets of many cities at 4am (completely sober!) setting up power and PA systems for large-scale events. I've operated lights for a motorcycle festival and loaded in lighting rigs in various venues and festivals around the UK. Since Pearce Hire provide temporary power dstribution to a lot of festivals, I've pulled in a lot of power cabling across many greenfield sites. When I'm not out on-site, I'm prepping and maintaining the lighting stock under the watchful eye of lighting supervisor Gareth Seal.
Who have been your biggest mentors?
Jim Brown - Warehouse Manager for Pearce Hire, and my boss - has taught me so much about working in the industry and has always been more than happy to answer the hundreds of questions I ask him. He really is my mentor and has ensured I consistently achieve the highest production standards. Also, Gareth Seal has patiently and methodically taught me about attention to detail.
What's the best career advice you've received so far?
More haste, less speed. Although you still need to be open in time for doors!
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned so far?
Check it. Double check it. Then check it again.
Who would you most like to emulate?
Oli Metcalfe - Muse's Drones tour was phenomenal.
What would be your dream project to work on?
I'd like to be designing lighting rigs for large festival stages and tours.
What's the toughest thing about entering this business?
In the early stages, it was finding the right place to develop your confidence and feel comfortable learning from those around you. And definitely remembering to keep your sense of humour when you're up against it. What's your experience of the industry's attitudes towards students? Everyone I've worked with has been very helpful, supportive and encouraging, and seems to enjoy giving me their advice „ , which is normally swiftly followed by a story about that one time they didn't follow their own advice!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Do it and never pass up an opportunity to learn something new. Also, I'm 6ft 4" so you might want some stilts to keep up.
What do you want your job title to be in 10 years' time?
Pearce Hire had good cause to celebrate earlier this month with a winning week at two prestigious industry awards ceremonies.
For the third year running, Pearce Hire was shortlisted at the Total Production Awards 2017 for Favourite Power Supply Company and whilst they were unsuccessful in being announced the winner, Pearce Hire was proud to have been nominated, shortlisted, and recognised for their work.
Later the same week, Pearce Hire was once more in the spotlight having been shortlisted at the 2017 Event Production Awards for Green Supplier of the Year and Best Temporary Supplier of the Year. These important awards for the live and outdoor events industry saw Pearce Hire crowned winners of the Best Temporary Supplier Award, with a well-deserved Highly Commended in the Green Supplier of the Year category.
“We are extremely proud of our award” comments Shaun Pearce, MD of Pearce Hire. “It has been a long time coming, and full credit must go to the dedicated team at Pearce Hire for their continuing hard work which has resulted in this award, and will, I hope, see further accolades in the future.”
Pearce Hire provides temporary power and services to dozens of events around the UK each year, and, with a notable increase in festival work over the past 12 months their expertise in temporary power provision has never been more in demand. Pearce Hire powers a range of long-standing clients including Lovebox Festival, Forestry Commission Summer tour, the Cambridge Folk Festival and a number of classic proms and beer festivals; whilst an increasing number of new clients are appointing Pearce Hire, including Eldorado Festival, Ibiza Proms, Equinox Festival, Hull Freedom Festival and Detonate Festivals.
The Event Production Award for Best Temporary Supplier of the Year acknowledges Pearce Hire’s long-standing reputation for providing reliable temporary power infrastructures for all their clients, with a particular specialism in temporary power supply for Greenfield sites.
Pearce Hire defines itself by its consultative production approach and in doing so supports clients in achieving the shared goal of safe, reliable and energy efficient temporary power supply.
“We have a company wide commitment to providing excellent temporary power for all our clients. Each event and each set of circumstances is totally different and so we spend a lot of time working with our clients to ensure our power supply recommendations are fit for their purpose as well as being cost efficient and appropriate for the distinct requirements of each individual event. We work with our clients to identify any previous wasteful practices and, using our considerable expertise and knowledge we are happy to suggest alternative methods in order to deliver better priced and more sustainable power supply production,” observes Pearce proudly.
The challenges of temporary power provision have escalated over the past few years and Pearce Hire are regularly updating their power equipment inventory, reviewing their services and undertaking regular testing of kit to ensure it complies with all regulations. Pearce Hire assembles all its temporary power distribution units in-house and to exacting standards, and is currently developing a full telemetry system for generator monitoring and control which will be introduced for the 2017 festival season.
The temporary power supply infrastructures provided by Pearce Hire are supported by the expertise of the company’s project managers and highly skilled engineers. Pearce Hire is frequently recognised for their flexibility, the calibre of their onsite teams, their consistent levels of delivery and their exceptional attention to detail.
Worthy winners therefore, of this important industry award.