USA - At the 2020 Parnelli Awards, Bandit Lites founder Michael T. Strickland was presented with the Visionary Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering work in the entertainment lighting business. The awards ceremony was held during the NAMM Show at the Anaheim Hilton’s Pacific Ballroom on 17 January.
In a touching tribute to Strickland’s lifetime achievements in founding and growing Bandit Lites, clients and friends Alice Cooper and Shinedown offered video tributes. Later, Shinedown lead vocalist, Brent Smith, stepped on stage to present the award to him, extoling the virtues of Michael as a person above all else. Smith then stated there was one more person who wanted to say a few words.
Singer-songwriter Garth Brooks then shared how he came to be a part of the Bandit Lites family, with Strickland believing in his dream of a concert that would rival the biggest rock shows. Thirty-two years later and several world records broken, the two remain close friends and Bandit remains Brooks’ lighting vendor. Brooks sang the praises of Strickland and his commitment and friendship with him. Kinder words could not have been spoken.
“Garth is just that kind of guy,” said Strickland. “He travelled 2,500 miles just to be here for me - what else can you say about him? It means the world to me. I love you Garth and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
In accepting the award, a moved Strickland noted how this honour was one that was not only his, but belonged to the entire Bandit Lites team, calling several to join him on stage.
Europe - Antonio Parise has joined the Prolights team as international area manager. Parise (pictured, centre) brings 20 years of international experience in the professional lighting industry and will play a strategic role in developing business and representing the brand internationally in several countries.
Paolo Albani, Prolights’ international sales manager, says: “Adding Antonio to our team will be an added value to strengthen our international presence. I had already had the pleasure to work with him, and I have high confidence this will be a successful move for both his career and our company goals”.
Fabio Sorabella, managing director for Prolights comments: “Antonio’s professionalism and work culture had immediately a good match with the values and vision of the Company; during his career he has always demonstrated a genuine attitude to customer service and we are very convinced he will be a natural asset for Prolights and the international sales network.”
Parise adds: “I have been working in the professional lighting industry since 2000 and I have been impressed by the achievements that Prolights has reached in the last decade.”
UK - Marketing and PR agency Sound Marketing has appointed Megan Draper to the post of marketing, PR and events coordinator.
A business management graduate of the University of Birmingham, Draper gained experience spending a ‘Year in Industry’ at Disney Head Office. Upon leaving university, she specialised in the design and implementation of social media campaigns on behalf of a wide variety of brands and joins Sound Marketing after successfully coordinating a high-profile brand rollout in the London hospitality sector.
Steph Dell, Sound Marketing managing director, comments: “Megan has already gained a great deal of valuable experience in a comparatively short time. She has worked in demanding and fast-moving environments and shouldered a lot of responsibility. We’re confident that we have recruited an exceptional addition to the team.”
Draper adds: “Joining the highly respected Sound Marketing team is a great opportunity to apply my skills and knowledge to a very wide-ranging brief. Having operated in the entertainment and hospitality sectors, the move into the AV arena feels like a natural step and one that I’m very excited to take.”
USA - Harman Professional Solutions has appointed Brian Divine as president of the professional solutions division, effective immediately. Divine will be responsible for overseeing the division’s worldwide operations, strategy, product roadmap and performance across all eleven brands.
Divine’s appointment is the culmination of a nearly 20-year-career working in the professional audio, lighting and video control industry. In his 15 combined years at Harman Professional, Divine worked closely with distributors and customers in nearly all of the entertainment and enterprise vertical markets the division serves in roles overseeing customer service, sales, engineering, marketing and product management. Divine was most recently senior vice president for products & customer solutions in the Professional Solutions division and VP of product and programme management, respectively.
“I am honoured to accept this role, and do so with great humility and awareness of the awesome responsibility of carrying forward HARMAN’s brands that were built over the course of, in some cases, nine decades,” comments Divine.
“The pro industry is in my DNA as my career was built though dedication to Harman Professional Solutions and its employees, channel partners and customers. These influences will directly impact the direction of the division as we look towards a robust roadmap committed to, and aligned with, customer needs for leading-edge pro products in audio, lighting and video control.”
USA - Bandit Lites most recent annual general meeting included a special celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of Eric ‘Rock’ Shafferman joining the Bandit Lites family in 1979.
Bandit Lites was just over a decade into its founding when Shafferman found himself with a summer off from college in East Tennessee. His brothers had been working with the company when they asked him to come to the warehouse and meet everyone. In what later could only be a destined happenstance, Shafferman found himself joining the team for a series of weekend warrior runs.
“We had two Shafferman brothers already, and in walks a third,” recalls Bandit Lites founder and chair Michael T. Strickland. “This guy was a high school all-state football player and looked the part. He was so tough, they called him Rock. Boy were they right! Eric was the toughest, hardest working guy at Bandit. Nothing stopped Rock. I was glad to hire him based on sight and the way he carried himself. It was one of the best hires we ever made! I love Rock!”
“Bandit was starting to really grow and was taking on the big names acts,” Shafferman shared. “We still didn’t have any chain hoists, but we had lights that were like little trees that went into the air, and maybe ten or twelve par cans on them. Once we got Kenny Rogers, we got all new equipment and after that it started to take off and we got to doing more bands. Alabama hit it big, and then I joined their tour a little after their first year out of clubs.”
While things in the industry have changed drastically, fr
Venezuela - Nexo has appointed a new sales manager for the Latin American nations. Hely Chirinos, formerly with Sun Music, Nexo distribution agent in Venezuela, joined the team in January.
Originally from Caracas in Venezuela, Hely Chirinos began his sound engineering career in 2003, and has worked for several touring companies, as well as advising on the design of projects in Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean islands. “I have used Nexo since the very beginning; I remember when we first heard the sound of the Nexo PS15, it was a life-changing moment!” he says. “In recent years, I have been lucky to work with Celso Papadopolous and Roberto Tschopp in the Nexo LatAm team, people that I admire who have contributed a lot to the growth of my professional career.”
As LatAm sales manager, Chirinos will work closely with Roberto Tschopp, one of Nexo’s top field engineers, collaborating on fixed installation projects as well as supporting an extensive base of rental companies.
“Nexo is considered one of the leading professional audio brands in Latin America, and we continue to have very interesting potential opportunities throughout the region. I look forward to encouraging our excellent distributors, strengthening the Nexo philosophy with our pro-audio users in the industry, so that our network continues to grow throughout the continent.”
USA - Apogee Electronics has announced the appointment of Martin Kloiber as chief operating officer (COO). The announcement was made by Betty Bennett, Apogee CEO and co-founder.
Previously Martin directed AVID's audio business division as VP of audio and strategy.
He led project teams to develop and execute delivery of products and solutions across multiple product categories. Before his work at AVID Martin was CEO of Euphonix. During this time, he developed the EuCon protocol which enabled products to interface with third party applications.
Kloiber comments: "I see Apogee as bridging the gap between technology and the creative imaginations of artists, engineers, producers, and directors. Our mantra is, let’s bring the art back to the artists. Technology has become so pervasive that it’s taking away not adding to the creative process. Don’t get me wrong, we are big fans of technology, but it needs to be implemented in a way that supports the artistic process. My focus is always on where the industry is heading and how we can best provide innovative and useful tools to improve the creative process.”
Betty Bennett adds: “I have known Martin since his time at Euphonix and watched his career closely. When Martin transitioned from Euphonix to Avid, I was impressed with Martins’ creativity, innovation, his ability to marry his vision with reality. What he sees in the future, what is possible in this moment and how do we move to that vision both creatively and technologically.”
Europe - Atlona has promoted Thorsten Goecke to director of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), effective immediately. Based in Munich, Germany, Thorsten reports to Ralph J. Lolies, Panduit’s SVP/managing director for EMEA.
Thorsten will work closely with his EMEA regional sales managers (RSMs) to boost demand, sales, and brand awareness for Atlona’s industry-leading AV over IP distribution, connectivity, and control solutions for commercial and residential applications. Prior to joining Atlona, he served as director of EMEA sales for Icron Technologies, a manufacturer of high-performance video and USB extension solutions.
“Thorsten brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new role around the unique sales and marketing challenges inherent to the EMEA region, including an expansive geography and broad cultural diversity,” comments Ilya Khayn, CEO of Atlona.
USA - Employees from around the country convened at Bandit Lites Nashville location for the company’s annual general meeting.
A special celebration was held for Eric ‘Rock’ Shafferman, who has surpassed 40 years with Bandit Lites. Shafferman’s storied tenure at Bandit includes touring with Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Rogers and Alabama as well as working the Super Bowl, Bonnaroo, Farm Aid and President George W. Bush’s inauguration.
“I first met Rock in 1979 when he joined the Bandit family as a driver on Kenny Rogers,” said Bandit chair Michael T. Strickland, a longtime friend of Rock. “He quickly climbed the ladder and became one of the top lighting technicians in the industry. Everyone that knows Rock simply loves him. I have never heard Rock speak ill of anyone, and he has a work ethic and ability second to none.”
Craig Richter (lighting designer), Sarah Eucker (shop supervisor), Carter Fulghum (lighting designer), Nikki Dotson (lighting technician) and Andrew Fisher (senior systems integrator) were all honoured for five years with Bandit Lites while Steve Powell celebrated 20 years in a career that’s included project manager as well as serving as the general manager of multiple Bandit locations.
Strickland shared Bandit’s expansive new plans for 2020 including a robust sales initiative across the country and remodelling the Nashville shop to include an addition of over 80,000sq.ft of space.
“Bandit is in an explosive but controlled growth phase,” he said. “The quality of our people, our standards and our se
USA - Eugene Novacek, founder of broadcast technology company ENCO, has passed away, aged 61. According to a statement from the company, he died on New Year’s Day in New York, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Novacek is survived by his wife Judith Novacek, daughter Kristin Heinbockel, son Andrew Novacek and granddaughter Evany Novacek. “His legacy lives through his family, the company he founded and the industry he loved and changed,” the statement reads.
Under Novacek’s guidance, ENCO to become a prominent supplier of automation for radio and TV stations. Its first digital audio delivery system was introduced in 1991; its product lines have since grown to encompass playout automation, captioning, scheduling and streaming. Its markets also include AV, events, concerts, worship and retail environments, according to enco.com.
ENCO is currently led by Ken Frommert, who in 2017 was promoted from general manager to president and has been the more public face of the company in recent years.
USA - K-array has appointed Sam Spennacchio as national sales director at K-array USA. Spennacchio’s appointment comes at a time when the Italian designer of discreet audio solutions continues to build its US subsidiary to meet the needs of its rapidly growing business in that market.
Spennacchio will be responsible for assisting in the overall increase of K-array business in the US and will concentrate his efforts in the event productions and live sound verticals. As an industry veteran with proven experience in the AV industry, Spennacchio comes to K-array USA with previously held management positions at Mark IV Audio as vice president and SPL-NY as president, as well as sales roles with Fiberplex, Crest Audio, Klark Teknik/Midas and Martin Audio.
“Given Sam’s breadth of experience in the market, I’m looking forward to him expanding K-array’s reach across all of the US,” says Rusty Waite, president of K-array USA.
Spennacchio adds: “I am extremely pleased to join K-array. I look forward to working with Rusty to strategise and develop long-term plans to usher in the new levels of K-array’s growth in the US.”
Europe - RCF SpA has announced the appointment of Thomas Lindgren as national sales manager for Denmark.
International sales manager Luca Ombrati comments: “This is a newly-created position. Having previously been in partnership with a local distributor we intend to start a direct operation with Thomas.”
With a career stretching back more than 20 years, the Dane was most recently audio consultant for Ascon Trading ApS, and prior to that made his mark with a series of premier pro audio brands, most notably Sennheiser. Luca Ombrati said he was also attracted by the fact that Thomas is an experienced FOH sound engineer. “Having a sales guy with a technical background was an extremely attractive prospect,” he says.
“Since RCF is mainly known in the MI segment in Denmark, his priority will be to rebuild the relations in that specific field,” confirms RCF’s sales manager. “He will then start to approach the rental companies in order to promote our range of line arrays with a good deal of optimism, since he is familiar with this market. Last but not least he will be approaching system integrators, installation companies, contractors and consultants.”
Speaking of the challenge, Thomas Lindgren says: “It’s great to be working in a company, with colleagues that are equally passionate about high quality sound, and are therefore making quality products. There is nothing more fulfilling as sales manager than having pride in representing your products and the company behind them.”
Luis Varona, who has spent over 15 years as an executive at leading companies in the region, has joined Chauvet Professional as business development manager for the Caribbean and Central America. He will be responsible for Chauvet Professional and Chauvet DJ products in that market.
“Luis is well-known and respected throughout the region,” says Stéphane Gressier, Chauvet’s international sales director. “As a result of his varied experience, he has a deep, personal understanding of how lighting fixtures are used in virtually every type of application, His knowledge and insights, as well as his passion for excellence, will be invaluable in enhancing our level of support and service to the customer.”
Varona comes to Chauvet from PSAV, where he served as a regional senior project manager. Prior to that, he spent a decade at Baynon, Puerto Rico-based Musique Xpress, Inc. filling a variety of positions, most recently director of operations. Earlier in his career, he worked as theatre technical director.
UK - Polar has promoted Will Turney to the position of national sales manager for its integrated solutions division. Turney will lead Polar’s seven-strong sales team, covering the company’s network of systems integrators across the UK.
Stuart Leader, integrated solutions director, comments: “We have complete confidence in Will’s ability to further enhance our business and continue to drive success. During his time with us, Will has demonstrated that he possesses the technical understanding and personal qualities to meet the requirements of what will be a demanding job. He has always led by example and is well-known and highly respected across the sector.”
Turney adds: “I’m excited about 2020 and beyond for integrated solutions and the changes ahead. The Polar team are an exceptional group that I’m proud to be a part of and I’m looking forward to managing their talents to maximum effect on behalf of all our customers and suppliers.”
USA - Symetrix has announced the promotion of Tylene ‘Ty’ Robinson to international sales & operations manager.
Robinson began her career in web design and digital marketing, graduating from the University of Advancing Technology with a BA in Digital Media (summa cum laude). She made her way up the corporate ladder at a fast-paced Seattle software company where she discovered a passion for project management and business operations.
After joining Symetrix, Robinson’s focus on managing order and fulfillment processes while getting to know the key players in the global sales channel became a strategic objective. In her new role, she will direct strategic accounts and an international salesforce as well as driving global sales enablement programs and managing critical sales KPIs.
“Symetrix is growing fast and expanding Ty’s role formally into international sales management will improve the level of service Symetrix provides to our distributors and will set Symetrix up to quickly evolve the necessary internal systems and process needed to support the growth,” comments Symetrix CEO Mark Graham. “Ty has already had a strongly positive impact on Symetrix’s success, and we are confident our partners will quickly feel her presence and appreciate the increased focus on Symetrix’s export business.”
“I am eager for the personal and professional growth I will attain through this opportunity,” says Robinson. “I am humbled and excited to be a part of accelerating forward growth for Symetrix and the meaningful relationships I ha
The Netherlands - Prolyte has announced the appointment of Fons van Teijn as CEO, effective 12 December 2019.
“Fons’ connections in the industry, hard work and experience will lead Prolyte to greatness in no time,” comments Frantisek Zykan, CEO of Area Four Industries, which recently acquired the Prolyte brand.
Van Teijn has a 34-year career in the professional photographic scene. He started as a sales manager at Capi-Lux-Vak, a then photography store which has since started offering a full assortment of electronics and today has branches in 40 airports across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. In 2000, he established Provak Photo Film Video BV, a wholesaler of photographic, film and video equipment, which operated as a sole company until its acquisition by Manfrotto in 2016. Van Teijn then stayed onboard the newly-formed Manfrotto Distribution Benelux BV as managing director before being recruited as Prolyte CEO.
“I look forward to leading Prolyte to success in 2020. We will achieve greatness by being a strong united team,” says Van Teijn.
USA - OSA has announced Mark Fetto as vice-president of lighting. Fetto will oversee the company’s new lighting division, which will be based in OSA’s Las Vegas and Nashville offices.
Fetto started working as a lighting technician in 1978. Working his way through the ranks at the Obie Company and Vari-Lite, he then became a lighting designer and senior programmer. In 1989 Fetto opened Vari-Lite’s satellite office in Las Vegas. He went on to become general manager of Vari-Lite’s corporate events division and later general manager of their North American operations.
Following a 16-year career at Vari-Lite, Fetto joined Stage Rigging as the national sales manager before moving to his most recent position of 14 years at Morpheus Lights. As chief operating officer at Morpheus Lights, Fetto oversaw touring systems, new inventory, infrastructure, and operational strategies in both production and manufacturing.
“Making the move to OSA has been very invigorating for me. I am looking forward to the opportunity to build OSA’s new lighting division with the same high level of quality and service that OSA’s audio and video divisions are known for. OSA has always been highly regarded in the corporate and special events markets, and I am thrilled to open the door for my clients to get the best of lighting, audio, video and production services from one great company,” says Fetto.
OSA President & CEO Mario Educate shares: “I am excited to have Mark on board. His extensive experience working in the touring sector, partnering with leading
UK - AV and entertainment technology company Anna Valley has announced that operations director, Peter Jones, has been promoted to the position of MD with immediate effect. The move follows an extensive hand-over period with exiting MD, Steve Jones who has led the company for 13 years.
Peter Jones worked for 10 years as a sound and video technician before joining Anna Valley in 2010 as a senior project manager. After working his way up through the ranks, Peter was appointed as Anna Valley’s operations director following a management buyout in 2015. Since then he has played an integral role in the company’s expansion, the purchase of Matrix UK Solutions and Anna Valley’s move to new premises earlier this year.
“As operations director, I’ve been as involved in the financial and business aspects of the company as I have in the process and procedure of service delivery,” explains Peter. “While our focus has remained on delighting our audiences through the innovative use of technology, we’re taking a data-driven approach to ensure that our investments reflect our customers’ needs.”
Steve Jones’ shares in the business have been bought out by the remaining board of directors who are equal owners of the group. He will continue to mentor and advise the board on a consultancy basis.
USA - Lectrosonics has announced the appointment of two new US regional representatives, Blair Johnson in the Northeast and Nicholas Mariano in the Southeast.
Blair Johnson will serve customers and develop new business in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Nicholas Mariano will do so in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Carolinas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Both began working full time in their new roles with Lectrosonics in December 2019.
Johnson comes to Lectrosonics from a background in filmmaking and film/video production management. His credits include live-streamed performances from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as editing, sound mixing, and producing in a wide variety of environments from artistic to corporate and commercial. Most notably, he is a lifetime Lectrosonics user himself. “There is one brand of wireless gear that I know inside and out: Lectrosonics,” he comments.
Nicholas Mariano has worked in Lectrosonics’ technical customer service deparment since September 2017. His extensive background in audio mixing, support, and repair includes time at the legendary Village Recorder in Los Angeles and a stint as special effects consultant for AMC’s hit TV series Breaking Bad.
“With Blair and Nicholas joining our sales team, we get the chance to promote a great team member from within as well as work with a new talent, both of whom are already passionate
Belgium - LED lighting manufacturer Lucenti has appointed Jeroen Carette as brand manager. With over 16 years of extensive experience in the professional lighting industry, Carette will implement the development strategy, focussing on the optimisation of the distribution channels and taking the brand’s identity to a next level.
Karel De Piere, co-owner of Lucenti, comments: “We’ve known Jeroen for many years as a true professional and experienced export manager. His approach will be appreciated by our professional customers and leading designers. A firm sales structure will support our valued and trusted distributors worldwide.”
Carette adds: “ Finding this truly innovative state of the art technology in a company I’ve known for years , has been a pleasant surprise. Being able to work within this team of excellent developers and product specialists is absolutely reassuring, and will enable Lucenti to bring an impressive added value to world leading show productions.”
The Netherlands - Eurotruss Group has appointed Ralph Stockley as chief commercial officer (CCO) and board member for the Eurotruss Group.
He will be responsible for group sales while offering support to all individual brands and will work alongside Martin Kuyper (CEO) and Frank Schrage (COO) to develop and implement the group's strategic international growth plan. "Ralph's role will be instrumental in the future global expansion planned in early 2020," explains Kuyper.
Stockley joins Eurotruss after over 20-plus years' experience in the entertainment industry. He comments: "I am excited to work with such an established brand serving international markets in the entertainment industry and feel privileged to join the team as we embark on the Eurotruss journey together."
Eurotruss is an entertainment solutions manufacturer based in the Netherlands with offices located around the globe.
UK - Production AV's concert touring services expansion is on track as the company appoints video and sound technician Nathan Dunbar as technical project manager.
Dunbar brings industry knowledge, experience and contacts in the sector, having worked on some of Europe’s largest AV projects including Glastonbury, UK-produced Hollywood movies and the MTV Europe Music Awards.
“We’re thrilled that Nathan has joined our growing team as Production AV looks to expand the scope of our projects and services in 2020,” says MD Pete McCrea. “His kit know-how, contacts and standing in our industry is an incredible asset to Production AV as we look to further strengthen our live music offering. We look forward to working with Nathan to achieve our goals in this next stage of growth.”
Dunbar comments: “I wanted to join a company where I could feel part of the family. I’m excited to help take the company further into the concert touring sector with full force with that added Production AV attention to detail that gives us the edge.”
Production AV has supplied kit and crew for a number of high-profile live music and concert touring events this year. A major project was the Teenage Cancer Trust’s Royal Albert Hall fundraising concerts.
In December, Dunbar will head a Production AV team to supply and deliver an AV solution to British rapper Little Simz’s headline performance at London’s O2 Kentish Town Forum.
Europe - Digital Projection has announced the appointment of three key sales employees across the EMEA region. The new hires - Christoph Hellmuth, Artur Kita and Nizar Nasser - will serve Digital Projection’s interests in DACH, Poland and the Middle East, respectively.
Hellmuth, who has been hired as regional sales manager for the DACH region, brings decades of experience in the pro AV market. After serving as an audio engineer for major musicals, Hellmuth worked as a senior marketing manager for Shure in EMEA, before becoming the CEO and founder of VividAudio Media.
As the new regional sales manager for Poland, Artur Kita joins Digital Projection with a wealth of experience in the Polish AV market, where he has been responsible for the sale of screen mounting solutions, projectors and other AV equipment.
Joining Digital Projection’s Dubai team as the new regional manager for the Middle East region is Nizar Nasser. Nasser has worked for over 10 years as Crestron’s regional sales manager for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as Middle East business development manager.
Chris Axford, international sales and marketing director at Digital Projection, comments: “We were looking for new recruits that would bring both experience and knowledge to the markets they are responsible for, and I am confident they will better expand the reputation of Digital Projection in EMEA. We’re very pleased to welcome them to the team.”
UK LSi is sad to report that lighting designer Chris Ellis passed away on 8th November 2019, aged 69. Born in Gloucester, on 23rd April 1950 to Doctor John and Mrs Mary Ellis, Chris Ellis lost both of his parents before he turned seven. He became ward to the Reverend Eric and Mrs Vivienne Gethyn-Jones in Dymock, spending a happy country childhood with a brother and sister that the couple had also adopted. From age eight to 18 he attended the Dean Close boarding school in Cheltenham, where he discovered a love of the backstage world - and the skill, which would be useful throughout his career, of persuading people to pay for new lighting equipment. In this case, the school bursar was convinced to buy four new Patt 23 spotlights.
With his ambition to be a commercial airline pilot thwarted by asthma, he decided instead to try making a career in lighting. Accepted by the BBC for their engineering programme, he discovered that it would be 15 years before he could specialise in lighting for them. Offered a job at the local Cheltenham Everyman theatre, he persuaded the BBC to keep their offer open for two years while he went to try the world of theatre lighting. He never went back.
After Cheltenham, he moved to the New Theatre in Bromley, then to the newly opened Hull Arts Centre, then in early 1971 to the Leicester Phoenix. That meant he was the person the City Architect turned to for advice on the new Haymarket Theatre which was then in planning. Ellis worked to ensure that the theatre would have a good lighting provision, including one of Strand