Johannesburg, South Africa, based Sets Drapes Screens (SDS), the specialist set building company of Gearhouse South Africa, celebrates 2 years and an impressive expansion.
SDS was launched in 2008, to complement other companies in the Gearhouse Group and as a dedicated operation constructing set designs of all sizes and types across multiple sectors of the industry.
Previously, Gearhouse had Gearhouse Scenic at its Cape Town branch, but there was an increasing need for a set building operation based in Johannesburg with the skills and facilities to deliver increasingly complex and innovative sets.
SDS has set standards for others to follow, not just in terms of nuts-and-bolts set building, but also in the seamless integration of visual media and digital scenic elements - from printed flooring to LED lighting - into temporarily built environments.
It is headed by Pieter Joubert and Craig Pretorius. Joubert's previous post at Gearhouse Rigging means he knows what is and isn't practical on all scales, and Pretorius has several years industry experience.
SDS incorporated Gearhouse Scenic and the Cape Town base, and the head office and main workshops are now in a 1600 square metre facility in Bez Valley, Johannesburg, adjacent to Gearhouse SA's main HQ and warehouse.
SDS received 75% of work through other companies in the Gearhouse Group in its first year of operation, with the percentage of business coming in directly from outside contacts rising to 40% in the second year.
From the outset, SDS has invested heavily in state-of-the-art CNC cutting machinery and spray booths for painting, etc., with a workflow designed specifically for efficiency and fast turnaround when necessary .
The initial 8 full time employees (including Joubert and Pretorius) has expanded to 11, plus a workshop crew of 12 regular freelancers in Johannesburg and another 5 full time staff in Cape Town. A dedicated project manager co-ordinates all the jobs going in and out.
Where possible, local talent is recruited and opportunities are open to those wanting to learn the skills of the trade.
Several personnel from the Sho-Show-Loza Crewing Company have been employed and trained, building up a strong team and creating an interesting and stimulating working environment with a very low staff turnover.
Easy access to other technical disciplines - e.g. electrics, projection/AV, etc. - within the Group, is another reason for SDS's rapid growth giving them a real advantage over others .
The company's first major project was for South African Tourism at the Indaba exhibition in Durban, followed rapidly by the Bidvest Annual Chairman's Awards in 2008, a prestigious corporate event for which Gearhouse provided the design concept and full technical production.
Other high profile projects have included construction of the massive 800 square metre TATA stand at the 2008 Johannesburg Motor Show, and Miss World 2008, which was the first set for a major live TV production.
SDS works across all different market sectors and understands the varying demands of corporate presentations, exhibitions, experientials and live event sets. A first for SDS in the broadcast sector was building the set for SABC's Confederations Cup coverage in 2009 - a sector now showing rapid growth.
The McDonalds Coop event in 2009 was the first that seriously utilised projection screens as an integral set element. This is a growing trend and an area where SDS has invested heavily, with the intention that screens will also be available as a stand-alone rental item.
Most of the new stock of screens are 16:9 format front and back projection screens, together with dual (front and back) screens for small to medium sized applications.
2010 has been action-packed with business generated by the World Cup - for events like the Kick Off Celebration Concert at Orlando Stadium, Soweto; the Emirates Meeting Points at all 10 World Cup stadia and installations at 3 studios in Johannesburg and Cape Town for American broadcaster ESPN, plus one for ESPN Brazil in Jo'burg and a smaller operation for BBC Sport in Cape Town.
Another World Cup job was creating a set for the launch of Sony 3D, with shows running daily throughout the tournament in an In2Structures Dome pitched in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, Johannesburg.
The draping side of the company is expanding soon. Already SDS has acquired a substantial stock of starcloths, and has the largest quantity of the latest LED starcloths in the country.
Projects like the 2010 Kora Awards in Burkina Faso, the Oriflame Diamond Conference in Mombasa and assorted jobs in Malaysia and China over the last 12 months have highlighted opportunities abroad, another fast developing area.
For more press information on SDS or Gearhouse South Africa, please call Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888/[email protected] To contact Gearhouse direct, call Robyn D'Alessandro on +27 (0) 11 482 8981/ +27 (0)83 607 3010 [email protected] or check www.gearhouse.co.za