Since its conception in 2015, Stagekings has built some of the most impressive and unique custom stages and event structures Australia has ever seen. From the Gold Coast’s 2018 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony to blockbuster TV series Australian Ninja Warrior, there was no project too ambitious for the stellar Stagekings.
Helmed by husband and wife team Jeremy and Tabitha Fleming, the company was on the up and up when, in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Australian shores. Almost overnight, the event industry collapsed, with mandated lockdowns keeping everyone at home. The duo could have panicked, but instead, they adapted.
Utilising its specialised cutting machines and genius Director of Design, Mick Jessop, Stagekings pivoted to begin creating chic, streamlined, flat-pack desks, designed to offer an immediate solution to the hundreds of thousands of Australian workers who had suddenly been relegated to home. The success of the aptly named IsoKing range was unprecedented and propelled the company into a brand-new iteration.
“IsoKing got us through COVID-19, but it’s actually still going strong,” CEO Jeremy Fleming tells The CEO Magazine. “We’ve created that as a separate business and are mostly now doing B2B. This means we’re doing a bunch of fit-outs of co-working spaces and other corporate client work. It’s also opened a hell of a lot of doors for us.
“So in Stagekings now, our biggest type of work is brand and corporate activations, which is off the back of doing the IsoKing stuff. For the first time ever, we’ve actually had to turn some work away because we’re so busy, which I don’t like doing. But it’s sometimes for the best.”
Importance of people
Having realised just how much Stagekings is capable of, Fleming is looking for ways to further evolve the business and its offerings. “I want to be able to offer a turnkey solution,” he says. “I hate the term one-stop shop, but that’s kind of it, for any of these events. We have the staging structures and we’ve just purchased the biggest temporary venue in the Southern Hemisphere.
“So for events that need the big spaces like exhibitions, we can provide the venue, then we can do anything they need inside; the truss and rigging hire, all the staging hire, all the printing. We’re not relying on third parties, we get it all done internally.”
The company recently purchased Australia’s – and the Southern Hemisphere’s – largest clear span temporary venue: a 55-metre-by-100-metre wave structure from Europe, which will be arriving in Australia in February 2023 for Icelandic music sensation Björk to perform in for the 2023 Perth Festival.
Off the back of COVID-19, because we kept so many people busy and no one else in the event industry was working, we managed to get some of the best people from the industry.
With exciting future prospects, such as the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2026 and the Brisbane Olympics in 2032 on its radar, Fleming hopes that one day Stagekings could even look at expanding outside Australia. It’s all possible, he explains, if you’ve got a rock-solid team behind you.
“It’s about having the right people,” he points out. “Off the back of COVID-19, because we kept so many people busy and no-one else in the event industry was working, we managed to get some of the best people from the industry.
“And those guys all have the same vision as us and they are able to flesh out the details and make sure that we do deliver everything to the best we can. We’re now at 35 employees full-time, but most days we’re sitting at over 70. We spend a lot of time working on the culture and making sure that everybody is on the same page.”
Becoming sustainability leaders
For those looking to replicate Stagekings’ success, Fleming emphasises that, as exemplified by his own groundbreaking pivot during COVID-19, it’s always worth “just having a go”.
“We are always trying to continuously improve and really just having a go at doing things better,” he confirms.
Indeed, it’s that same mentality that has seen Stagekings looking to shake up the industry when it comes to a more environmentally friendly approach. “We’ve now got sustainability management; that’s a very big part of what we’re doing,” Fleming reveals.
“We want to change the event industry. It’s historically very wasteful. Most sets and things that get built just end up in the bin, whereas we’re trying to really work on that and come up with new materials to use and new ways of recycling. Sustainability is a big thing in the industry that not many people are even thinking about.”
We are always trying to continuously improve and really just having a go at doing things better.
As to what the next chapter may hold, Fleming is excited by the possibilities – especially given things at Stagekings are only accelerating.
“A big part of event companies is that you need to be able to expand and contract with the seasons and with the events, and so you’ve got to have the capability of scaling up very quickly,” he explains. “And what’s happened since COVID-19 is we’ve scaled up to deal with the workload and it just hasn’t come back down. So we’re just seeing work like we’ve never, ever experienced.
“I think COVID-19 got us in front of a lot more people, which has opened a lot more doors and so I can’t see us actually slowing down again. I think it’s just going to continue to grow.”