17 Aug 2022

The P.A. People’s Venue Engineering Team is ready

Many readers of CX would be aware that Sydney’s The P.A. People has just celebrated their 50th year. Well known as a Tier 1 provider of installed audio systems in large venues and as one of a handful of Event Communications specialists world-wide, The P.A. People has recently expanded its operations to incorporate a new Venue Engineering team.  

Five months on from its launch, the new team is poised to show a range of new TheatreQuip products alongside its existing range of tools and audio products, and to reveal several new distribution arrangements for specialised theatrical engineering products at the forthcoming Integrate and ENTECH trade shows.

For many years The P.A. People have developed a reputation as a specialist in the provision of stage management, audio and lighting systems in theatre spaces around the Country.  They would work alongside other specialist engineering firms to deliver a complete theatre package including drapes and track, over stage counterweight systems and hoisting, and orchestra lifts. In the midst of some significant changes in the local market and the COVID19 pandemic, the company saw an opportunity emerging to establish their own Venue Engineering team.

The first step in establishing the new team was the acquisition of TheatreQuip. TheatreQuip can trace its origins in the Australian theatre industry back over thirty years, and it brings a wealth of theatrical experience and product to The P.A. People’s new Venue Engineering portfolio, including a comprehensive range of drapes, curtain tracks and accessories.

Around the same time as the Company was in discussions with TheatreQuip, it was revealed to the market that Jands Venue Engineering was to be sold to its main competitor. Given that JVE was the largest player in the local industry, The P.A. People felt that this consolidation in the market might be an opportunity to use their experience and engineering approach to create a new team with a focus on innovative and standards compliant solutions, proven products from around the world, and the very best in Australian design and manufacturing.

It was not too long after the sale was announced that the phone started ringing. Under the leadership of Peter Grisard, The P.A. People’s Venue Engineering team already comprises some of Australia’s best theatre practitioners. So far, Peter has been joined at The P.A. People by Andrew Mathieson in the role of Chief Engineer, Michael Rafferty, Dallas Winspear, Simon Steinfurth, Jay Wardrop, and Tim Pike as State Manager, Queensland. 

The team has hit the ground running with several significant projects in the pipeline including the design manufacture and installation of a full counterweight system at Sutherland Entertainment Centre, provision of drapes, tracks and lighting bars for the new Bondi Pavilion, and a full theatrical fit-out including an adjustable acoustic shell and a motorised fly tower for a new multi-purpose venue in South Australia. Coupled with their expertise in the systems-orientated part of the theatre market, The P.A. People are now well positioned to offer a complete solution for venues and theatres across Australia and New Zealand.

“Key to developing the capability of the new Venue Engineering Team has been to secure a number of international agencies for the distribution of specialised theatrical products,” said Chris Dodds, Managing Director of The P.A. People.

The first of these to be publicly announced is the Company’s appointment as an authorised systems integrator and installer of SERAPID Rigid Chain Technology throughout Australia and New Zealand.

One of the core elements of many stage machinery projects is the horizontal and vertical movement of heavy loads for applications such as orchestra platforms for musicians, adjustable seating systems, and complex stage structures.

Andrew Mathieson, Chief Engineer Venue Engineering at The P.A. People commented, “Members of our engineering and design team have had the opportunity to work with products from the world’s best actuator manufacturers over many years and on many projects. SERAPID is one of the best, and their product range is the most versatile for venue applications. We are delighted that SERAPID has chosen to partner with The P.A. People and our Venue Engineering team as our supplier of linear actuator technology.”

“While The P.A. People are a relatively recent entrant into the world of Venue Engineering in Australia, their clear focus on engineered solutions, safety and compliance, coupled with the demonstrable expertise of their new Venue Engineering team have made their appointment as a SERAPID authorised systems integrator and installer a logical choice,” said Robert Degenkolb, Managing Director of SERAPID Singapore Pte. Ltd.

The second significant announcement is that The P.A. People have been appointed exclusive distributor of Movecat Motion Control products in Australia and New Zealand. Movecat are Germany’s number one supplier of specialist entertainment hoists including D8+ and BVG-C1 rated chain motors and SIL3 compliant motion control systems suitable to lifting and moving loads over audiences.

Over the past three years, The P.A. People have worked with MOVECAT products on a number of hoisting projects, including the design and supply of the 10-tonne motorised gondola supporting four LED screens at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena. Supported by four 2.5 tonne MOVECAT PlusLite chain hoists with 25m height of lift, the system is rated D8+, but also features full load monitoring and position encoders on each hoist for additional safety and a unique bespoke cable management system.

“I first saw the PROstage+ hoists a few years ago,” said Chris Dodds. “They are significantly lighter than any other D8+ hoist on the market; around 85Kg for a one tonne D8+ hoist complete with 36m of unique ‘D’ shaped chain is remarkable. ”

“We are delighted to appoint The P.A. People as our new Australian distributor,” commented Peter Streicher, CEO for MOVECAT. “MOVECAT has a large installed base of chain hoists and control systems around Australia and New Zealand. There have been a lot of changes in the local marketplace over the last twelve months. The P.A. People have the knowledge and understanding to represent our product and to support our existing and new customers. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with The P.A. People” he concluded.

The P.A. People has also secured distribution rights for the range of specialist screens, fabrics and flooring products from industry leader Gerriets of Germany. The company also distributes a range of specialist AV products, rigging accessories and test equipment from Audio Press Box, Teqsas, Eclipse Broadcast, CableJog, Nixer and CTP Systems, all of which will be on display at both Integrate and ENTECH.

Meanwhile the company has also been busy developing a complete range of new Australian designed and built TheatreQuip products. Over the next few months, TheatreQuip will release and show their new range of theatrical drum and pile wind hoists, new fully extruded theatrical and architectural lighting bars, all alongside their existing range of drapes, tracks and accessories.

“We have had a very steep path since we announced the formation of this team in February, but we feel we are now well placed to provide solutions, products and advice to the industry. Our team is focussed on providing innovative and standards compliant solutions, proven products from around the world, the very best in Australian design and manufacturing, all backed by The P.A. People, an organisation that has been trading continuously for 50 years. We are confident that the expertise and experience of the team we have been fortunate to assemble is the best in the country. We look forward to the opportunity to meet in person with the consultant community, clients, end users and dealers at the Integrate and ENTECH tradeshows later this year,” Dodds concluded.

Michael Rafferty, proprietor of the TheatreQuip business since 2001, commented on joining The P.A. People team. “I am delighted that the TheatreQuip business is now part of The P.A. People,” Michael explained. “I am looking forward to working together to deliver the very best staging solutions for venues and contractors alike. Chris has put together a very experienced team with a lot of familiar faces as well as some new ones, and we have hit the ground running. We are looking forward to creating a new chapter for The P.A. People over the next fifty years by providing the best Venue Engineering solutions in Australia.”

Peter Grisard is also enthusiastic about his new role at The P.A. People; “It has been great to join a company who is so well respected in the marketplace. In my previous role I have worked with Brett SteeIe and his team extensively, but I had not realised the depth of engineering that the company has developed over its fifty years. Everything they do is engineering focused, from their events and service teams through to the Installed Systems division. The expansion into Venue Engineering is a natural fit for The P.A. People.”

The P.A People also offer sales, hire service, installed systems and event communications across a broad range of sectors.  They can be found at the Integrate Expo on stand C23.


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