profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities
No. 61 in a continuing series
Business Development Director, Avesco
Like many people in this business, Avesco director Dave Crump's career started at school, where he displayed general disinterest in academia but developed a fascination for the performing arts, and all things technical related to it.
"I was lucky to be at a boarding school where drama was encouraged as a major element of the curriculum, and I spent many nights building sets, focusing lights and generally doing everything involved in staging a production - other than treading the boards," he remembers.
School rolled into a failed application to LAMDA, and after a brief flirtation with the film business, there followed several further abortive attempts to get into the BBC - then the internationally recognised school for television.
Undeterred, he finally landed a job as the ‘boy' in a small AV rental business
owned by MMA, later to become ICM and then HP:ICM. Located in what is now a
designer mall in Covent Garden, he learnt the ropes of the corporate
presentation industry (some of the key skills being to help artics negotiate the Covent Garden streets, and being able to drink till dawn in the Crown.)
"Our neighbours were Theatre Projects, who at that time were not only the consultants they are today but also a leading rental house encompassing lighting, sound and AV services. Many of the leaders of the industry we know today started life in those cobbled streets, the pub and the curry house whose name escapes me. Also, many of my friends and colleagues in Avesco today started their careers there as did many of my biggest customers and suppliers."
Dave Crump's interest in the big screen industry with which he has become synonymous, probably started with 16mm cine projection. This quickly led to the recognition of an emerging niche in the industry, and from there to a job offer (and not inconsiderable hike in salary) with Link Electronics in Hampshire - then the only operators in the UK of specialist large screen display kit.
He observes nostalgically that Eidophor projectors are now long forgotten by most. "These things weighed as much as a car and consumed more power than a house; nowadays you get as much light out of a desktop projector."
Two years of hot oil and mirrors led to a further job offer - this time from a
new joint venture between Viewplan (then the biggest AV rental house,
started by Steve Lakin) and the newly formed Avesco Group.
"Viewplan had already employed many of my old friends from the Covent Garden days, along with many of the key staff from Samuelsons," remembers Dave. "Avesco made a revolutionary standards (PAL to NTSC) converter and lots of money.
"The job was to be general manager of a start-up daylight screen company. The worst question in the interview was ‘How old are you?' The sheepish reply of 23 was met with a pause ... and then ‘We believe in young management!' "
Viewplan bowed out of the venture a year later and soon afterwards bowed out
for good. Avesco prospered under the leadership of Richard Murray, who has
been a great mentor of Dave's over many years.
"Most of the guys from the early days (I nearly said the Crown!) joined when we started Creative Technology. Many are still there and most of those that are not have gone on to make their mark on the AV business in many ways."
The screen company changed its name to Screenco, with the company's fleet of Starvisions giving way first to the Sony Jumbotrons and then to LED. "Along the way we have been involved in many, if not most of the biggest and most ground-breaking events our industry has ever seen. The Avesco Group has grown to become one of the leading players in the supply of technical services to our industry. With offices throughout Europe and North America - and having had brief sojourns further afield - we have come a long way in the last 18 years."
During that period Dave notes that the industry has changed enormously. "It has matured, or at least reached puberty," he continues. "Commercial interests and concerns about health and safety have replaced some of the maverick attitudes of the early years. However, by and large it is still an industry driven by a remarkable bunch of people that started in Covent Garden, (with another lot, Samuelsons, in Cricklewood).
"I am sure none of us would have foreseen just how far our industry would go in 20 years or so - and who knows where it will be in another 20!
"Whatever happens it's been a pretty fun ride and much better than having a proper job."
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