In the 7 years of Splitbeam’s existence, under the expert guidance of Managing Director Alistair Kilbee, the company has grown from a single discipline lighting rental company to a full-service professional equipment rental company supplying Lighting, Audio, Audio Visual, Power and Rigging equipment as well as staffing services to large-scale international and local theatrical productions. Their portfolio includes some of the top-end touring productions such as Jersey Boys, West Side Story and War Horse.

As a result; Splitbeam’s Audio Visual department has grown massively over the past two years, with the acquisition of additional media servers amongst other items. There is similar growth in the Lighting and Audio departments which have added Sennheiser SK2000 systems, Clearcom Wireless Communications systems, Motorola Radio systems, Varilite VL3000 spots, VL2500 Spots and Washes, ETC Revolutions, Mac 700 and The Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr Profile fixtures to meet the requirements of productions like Annie and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The team has been in high demand of late, working overtime to meet the demand of an increasingly busy schedule and for a growing collection of private clients.

On the opposite end of the scale, the company’s drive to promote theatre in schools has created an ongoing relationship with several learning institutions in and around Johannesburg whereby Splitbeam supplies technical services, crew and equipment for school concerts, musicals, school dramas, student awards ceremonies and the like. They also conduct on-site training with interested students. The team believes that they can make a difference by sparking an interest in theatre as early as possible amongst the South African youth and use this avenue to contribute to the sustainability of the theatre and performing arts industries.

Long-term relationships and a continuous presence in the school’s environment has generated a growing database of returning school clients and Splitbeam has been experiencing what Assistant Technical Manager, Michael Inglis, refers to as “…an explosion of demand for these services. We are seeing a very high technical standard in the theatrical productions of many of the school clients that we are supplying, and increasingly there is a wider interest in producing school theatre of a technically high standard – so we are looking forward to continued growth in this part of the business.”

Alongside the growth in stockholding, the staff body has increased exponentially with the addition of Candice Joseph (Administrator) and Michael Inglis (Assistant Technical Manager) in 2014, Tyrone Dobbin (Senior Audio Visual Technician), Jeff Thomson (Senior Audio Operator) and Rachel Gusha (Scanner / Assistant Stock Control) in 2016, Leon Barnard (Warehouse Manager) in 2017 and Alyssa Harrison (Production Assistant) currently on contract.

As a result, the burgeoning business has this year relocated their offices; moving the entire operation to the Lang street side of the Gearhouse Group premises in Bezuidenhout Valley, Johannesburg. “Bringing the warehouse and office space together is a positive operational move intended to promote cohesion of the company as a whole and improve the level and quality of communication between the warehouse staff and the office staff at the same time” explains Michael.

With an additional 440sqm of warehouse space and an airy 100sqm of office space, Michael is now focusing on implementing new systems and processes to create a clean and efficient workflow across all elements of the operation. 

“Until now, all jobs and equipment have been dealt with in the same space, and through the same loading bay (whether being prepped and dispatched or returning to be deprepped). The new layout will promote a less cluttered, more efficient and more accurate work procedure for crew and make it easier to keep track of stock leaving and returning.”

“I am pleased with the growth of Splitbeam in the last few years, it is now well on its way to becoming the all-round theatre rental company I envisaged. We have a way to go to be able to take on the rest of the world, but we are certainly on the right track. We have done some Asian touring and handled it well, but there is still much to learn” adds Alistair Kilbee. “Having more space means we can lift our standards even higher, which will help us take that next step. I believe there is always room for improvement and this space will just make this a little easier for Splitbeam in the future.”   

Story Robyn D’Alessandro, Photo Michael Inglis

May 3, 2017

The Gearhouse Group of Companies