Production Resource Group, LLC (PRG) and VLPS Lighting Services International, Inc. (VLPS) jointly announced on June 11th that they would be joining forces via a merger, with VLPS becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of PRG. The new PRG will operate as PRG Lighting, PRG Audio, and PRG Scenic Technologies.
Although the merger came as shocking news to many in the industry, it had been rumored and discussed for almost five years. The discussions reached a fever pitch in the last three months as market conditions improved and spurred the sale, according to VLPS' Rust Brutsché and PRG's Jere Harris. “There was a real desire on [our] part to take the gear we both have in stock and provide more options to clients, without spending the exorbitant amount of money it would have taken us to ramp up individually,” says Harris. “The reality is now we have an integrated product line that exists in inventory and can be delivered by one company.”
Also contributing to the deal was the looming “digital revolution” in lighting; both indicated that while each entity had its own entry in the field — PRG the Mbox and VLPS the EX-1 — neither felt they had the ability by themselves, neither technologically nor economically, to get their products to the next level in the short term. With the new arrangement, Brutsché and his team in Dallas-his new title with PRG is vice chairman and chief technology officer-can focus on those and other goals.
To that end, Brutsché indicated that the Mbox and the EX-1 would eventually be merged into one PRG Lighting media server. In addition, he also noted that additional R&D would be pursued aggressively with the Virtuoso console, including making it more compatible with digital lighting technology.
Both Harris and Brutsché said the deal would not result in very many layoffs within the company; Harris noted that, because of recent economic conditions, neither company “had a lot of bench,” (extra staff), while Brutsché added that there was very little overlap in the various cities in which the companies had offices, with one company having a larger presence in some cities and the other, vice versa. Some clerical jobs might be affected, but warehouse and technology staff should remain relatively unscathed, according the the companies.
“This is a merger of equals,” Harris said of the pairing, not only of the two companies but also of himself and Brutsché. “I'm happy to be partnered with Rusty; we have similar skill sets and are very complementary together. Plus, if I'm ever hit by a bus, I know the company's in good hands.”