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Author Topic: Small Portable Staging  (Read 1252 times)

Mike Sullivan

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Small Portable Staging
« on: February 25, 2014, 01:53:07 pm »

So I've had several requests last year for stages for outdoor events, and the only ones locally that do it only do it for big shows and charge a ton of $$ for them. Therefore, I'd like to get into a smaller staging set up for these shows (mostly bike nights, small festivals and the like) I know the basics of the staging industry (do it right or don't do it at all, plenty of insurance, etc), but I'm having trouble finding a nice system that is semi-modular and easy to set up by two people if necessary.  Biggest stage would more than likely be 24x20 for what I do, but I'd like to have something I can expand on down the road if needed, and the likes of mobile stage trailers like Stagemobil/Stageline are out of the question at the immediate moment.  So my main questions are...

1. Where can I look at getting modular staging for mostly outdoor events?  I have been looking at the All Terrain Staging from Intellistage which would fit the bill perfectly, but wanting to find other options out there..

2. What can I do about the roof situation?  Would I be OK doing something like Global truss and stands with a pre-made vinyl roof or should I go elsewhere?
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Mike Sullivan - Ice Cold Entertainment Ashland, KY

Robert Piascik

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 06:53:18 pm »

There are many brands of modular staging. I settled on StageRight because of the intelligent and rock-solid design. The decks are 4'x8' and come in different surfaces and indoor and outdoor versions. The understructures come in three duty strengths: light, medium and heavy and the medium and heavy duty versions lock the decks together which eliminates any chance of the decks separating. The legs are easy to level and come in different heights. StageRight is a well-known and popular brand so it's easy to find another shop in your area for cross rentals (I am in Columbus OH if you can't find any other nearby) when you need a bigger stage just go rent a few more pieces (and you WILL need to do that). Can be assembled by two guys and there aren't a million pieces to keep track of. Get at least one step unit and you'll need skirting (either permanent or disposable).

DON'T do the roof until you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing. It's more complicated than just throwing up four crank stands and tying a tarp to the truss. You have to know how to securely tie it down and you need water barrels (and access to the water) and then you have to transport it all. It's a LOT of liability, way more than just the stage itself. For small stages we sometimes hire a tent company to put a free span tent over our stage (or ON the stage) and that works well.

I am a small company and had similar desires a few years ago. I bought the stage and talked to MANY people about trying to do the roof too and decided it was way more hassle than I wanted to undertake. Having the staging opened a lot of doors for me and learning where I could cross rent additional equipment of the same brand helped a lot.

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Mike Sullivan

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 11:39:43 pm »

There are many brands of modular staging. I settled on StageRight because of the intelligent and rock-solid design. The decks are 4'x8' and come in different surfaces and indoor and outdoor versions. The understructures come in three duty strengths: light, medium and heavy and the medium and heavy duty versions lock the decks together which eliminates any chance of the decks separating. The legs are easy to level and come in different heights. StageRight is a well-known and popular brand so it's easy to find another shop in your area for cross rentals (I am in Columbus OH if you can't find any other nearby) when you need a bigger stage just go rent a few more pieces (and you WILL need to do that). Can be assembled by two guys and there aren't a million pieces to keep track of. Get at least one step unit and you'll need skirting (either permanent or disposable).

DON'T do the roof until you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing. It's more complicated than just throwing up four crank stands and tying a tarp to the truss. You have to know how to securely tie it down and you need water barrels (and access to the water) and then you have to transport it all. It's a LOT of liability, way more than just the stage itself. For small stages we sometimes hire a tent company to put a free span tent over our stage (or ON the stage) and that works well.

I am a small company and had similar desires a few years ago. I bought the stage and talked to MANY people about trying to do the roof too and decided it was way more hassle than I wanted to undertake. Having the staging opened a lot of doors for me and learning where I could cross rent additional equipment of the same brand helped a lot.

I'll check Stageright out then.  And that gives me an option, you're only about 2.5-3 hours away (Ashland KY) and I know it's quite a bit to get into the roofing.  That's why if I do do it (which would be easier vs. trying to find someone to rent from) I want to do it right.  Definitely will at least either do the water method (being a firefighter getting water isn't too much of a task haha).
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Mike Sullivan - Ice Cold Entertainment Ashland, KY

Gus Housen

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2014, 01:52:18 pm »

People charge so much for it because..... nobody got into this industry to set-up stage. their is no glamour to building stages.
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Art Welter

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2014, 02:41:32 pm »

Definitely will at least either do the water method (being a firefighter getting water isn't too much of a task haha).
Mike,

When wind hammered the roof down at the Indiana state fair in 2011, it dragged tons of cement barricades used as tie-down points.

Poly water tanks have about half the coefficient of friction as cement and weigh about half per volume as cement, so slide about four times easier per given size.

Stage roof anchors should be made immovable with stakes or screws driven in to the ground.

Art
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 02:44:08 pm by Art Welter »
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2014, 02:55:26 pm »

Basic staging is fairly simple to do safely.  You might be surprised to find others locally that offer staging that you're not aware of.  If there is a tent/party rental store in the area, chances are, they've got staging available.  If you can forge a working relationship with them, you can get a discount on the rental, and charge the customer full price.  Now you don't have to lift a thing and still make money.

If you're looking to do it on your own, there are a ton of factors to consider beyond just the cost of the staging.  Storage costs exist even when the stage isn't being rented out.  Transportation costs have to be factored in.  Labor, insurance, and marketing costs get factored in.  Once you crunch the numbers, what you've got to charge for stage rental just to break even can be pretty high.  For the smaller events that want staging, the cost will often turn them away from it and to other alternatives.  If your stage isn't out there working regularly, you're not going to make a profit from it, just like anything else.
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Brian Jojade

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2014, 06:09:52 pm »

Mike,

When wind hammered the roof down at the Indiana state fair in 2011, it dragged tons of cement barricades used as tie-down points.

Poly water tanks have about half the coefficient of friction as cement and weigh about half per volume as cement, so slide about four times easier per given size.

Stage roof anchors should be made immovable with stakes or screws driven in to the ground.

Art

Thank you, Art.  You said in a few words what I was writing a chapter for.

The failure (loss of friction) of a ballast/friction guy anchor was the initial cause of the failure at the Indiana State Fair.  I strongly encourage anyone contemplating getting into staging in general and roofs in particular, to download and read the forensic engineering analysis conducted by Thorton-Tomasetti of the 2011 failure.

In addition, an internet search for "demountable entertainment structure safety" will bring hours of reading enjoyment.
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Thomas Lamb

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2014, 07:02:49 pm »

Staging is a pain! Ive worked for company's that have stage and it made me decide that it wasn't a business I wanted to be in. So.... I went and bought some anyway! Dummy! I really only bought enough to do drum/ keyboard risers and a small stage for small (very small) events. We only have 6 real stage decks 4x8 with 2' legs. we do own a few misc smaller pieces for ground leveling when ground stacking also. The biggest stage I can make is a 12x16 and im ok with that. Much more than that and your wore out setting up stage before you ever get started with what your good at. As mentioned though cross rentability is a good thing. I do have someone that I can get 12 more decks from if I needed them and he gets my 6 from time to time so that works well for me!
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Mike Sullivan

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2014, 09:48:06 pm »

Thanks for the replies all.  No, it's not a glorious market, but for the small stuff I do, having the staging will help get the gig and make the clients happy.  Plus, once I get to the bigger stages, I will just get the fold-out trailer stages for those.  As for anchoring the stage, I do plan on getting anchors to dig into the ground, but 99% of the time the stage won't be up if there is to be high winds, regardless though I will do everything to make sure it is done correctly and as safely as possible.
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Mike Sullivan - Ice Cold Entertainment Ashland, KY

frank kayser

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Re: Small Portable Staging
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 11:11:30 am »

Thanks for the replies all.  No, it's not a glorious market, but for the small stuff I do, having the staging will help get the gig and make the clients happy.  Plus, once I get to the bigger stages, I will just get the fold-out trailer stages for those.  As for anchoring the stage, I do plan on getting anchors to dig into the ground, but 99% of the time the stage won't be up if there is to be high winds, regardless though I will do everything to make sure it is done correctly and as safely as possible.


Careful with the thought of "high winds" - it doesn't take much wind to fly a kite.   Wind loading even in moderate breezes is amazingly powerful.  Add to that, you'll never see that destructive gust coming.
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