Dialogue With Ben McCarthy
Originally a mobile DJ whose roadshow was featured in an early issue of Pro Mobile, Ben McCarthy has since grown his Leicestershire business into an incredibly successful production company. Always moving forward by adding services to its ever-expanding repertoire, Premier UK Events now offers equipment hire, wedding and event production packages, and conference/AV solutions, and has worked on a number of events for high-profile clients. To tell us more, Ben joined Pro Mobile’s Greg Cartwright for a chat about his successful journey so far...
Q: So, Ben’s Mobile Discos was the Featured Roadshow in Pro Mobile Issue 12 back in 2005! How did it all start?
A: Issue 12, was it? Was it really that long ago?! Well, my story started at the beginning of university. You know how you get a loan when you first start? Well, I was sitting in the Student’s Union and I just made a snap decision that I was going to spend my loan on starting a mobile disco. So I went down to the local disco shop in Nottingham, where I was at uni, and I just said, “What can you give me?” I didn’t tell my parents for a few months, but then I realised I needed somewhere to store all my kit over the summer! They were actually OK with it in the end. I started out with school discos and just worked my way up from there.
Q: What was the process you went through when moving from part-time to full-time?
A: Following University I was working part-time, two days a week, behind the bar at the local Hilton and on reception at the Travel Lodge, while also running the roadshow. I did that for a year but eventually decided to sack off the jobs and run Ben’s Mobile Discos full-time!
Q: How did the move into event production come about?
A: Well, I was actually pretty early into up-lighting. That’s how it started. I saw the big companies doing it and thought I could do it too. I was definitely one of the first from the disco world! It really opened up doors and I just kept going with it. I added star-cloths, then 12ft dance-floors in white and black starlit as well as chequered, opening up more doors. Every year I bought more equipment. Clients asked for things and I just kept saying “yes”. Eventually it paid for itself!
In 2010 I employed an ex-DJ called Jon [Minns – General Manager] to come and help run it all. We also moved into an industrial unit, tidied it up and used it store the vast amount of equipment that we’d bought so far.
Q: Is that when you’d say you became more of a trade professional rather than a consumer? When you started taking on staff?
A: Yes, we started putting on small productions and in 2011 we got trade accounts, stopped shopping at disco shops and went direct to the sort of people you find at PRO and PLASA. Having the trade discount certainly opened up doors, and from then on we spent a small fortune each year. 2012 was also when we took on Michael [Gregson – Office & Logistics Manager] as a full-time employee, and we’ve added four people each year since then. Two years ago we moved into an 8000sq/f unit – the old unit was 1000sq/f – and I never thought we’d fill it! But we’re buying more and more kit to keep up with demand and we’re now planning to double the size to around 15,000sq/f.
Q: What sort of events are you currently providing production for – any stand out gigs?
A: We’re so busy, I don’t know half of the jobs happening at the moment, I leave the smaller events for our event organisers to look after. I know that this week we are installing an outdoor festival, with an inflatable stage, big PA system, lighting and smoke/haze effects. We are also installing a mega-posh, big-budget 21st birthday party. We’re doing the full production: video, lighting, sound, site power... everything.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 72, Pages 60-62.