We were recently hired by a client to work on the creative design of their show and to direct the show on-site. There was an existing vendor who was to provide all of the production equipment.  Though this isn’t our usual way of working an event, we trusted the client and the event seemed like a fun one to be involved with, so we signed on.

The company that provided the equipment was a reputable one which had worked many events and had a history with the client.  Everything went well right up to the day of load-in.  Trucks pulled up to the docks and dozens of cases filled with production equipment filled the ballroom.  Our technical director noticed that the equipment, rather than all being from the contracted company, was largely sub-rented from other equipment vendors.

Lots of cases of equipment for a large-scale show at the Wisconsin Expo Center

Sub-renting gear is a common occurrence.  When equipment companies have multiple jobs at one time they don’t always have the inventory to fill all the equipment needs, so they supplement it with gear from other companies.

When the technical director saw the sub-rented equipment, he wasn’t concerned. Turning to the person leading the load-in he simply asked, “Who performed the quality control check on the sub-rented equipment?”  Unfortunately, the blank stare he received was the beginning of a very long and painful load-in.  While much of the sub-rented equipment was fine, there were a number of items that were supplied incorrectly or that simply didn’t work.

Equipment at a smaller-scale show in a hotel ballroom

The experience and professionalism of our crew on the show ultimately saved the day and the show went off without a hitch. However, the cost in overtime to the client, sleepless nights, and stress on the entire production team was significant.

When equipment is sub-rented on our jobs, it is always opened and quality checked before it’s allowed onto the trucks.  As event professionals, we have seen many speakers at our clients’ shows talking about the importance of quality control and delivering products that work.

Successful event production that works is as much about preparation as it is about execution. And we have a solid night’s sleep!