Tomcat USA, the Midland, TX-based manufacturer of trussing and other related products, is moving ahead with expansion plans on several fronts. First off will be the opening of a new office in Las Vegas, at 4020 West Ali Baba Lane, Building D, Suite A, Las Vegas, NV 89118. “We'd been looking at options on the West Coast,” says Tomcat USA's president, Mitch Clark, who adds that Nevada won out over California, partly because of “the tax situation and the high cost of doing business” in the latter state. “Doing business in California is expensive and not like what we're used to in Texas. Nevada is more like Texas from that standpoint.” He also notes that Vegas is easily accessible, via airplane, from both California and Midland.

Another reason for choosing Vegas: Tomcat is currently very involved in supplying Storm, a new spectacular designed by Gerard Howland that opens at the Mandalay Bay resort/casino later this year. “Technically, there are some really neat things in it,” says Clark. “It's turned into a major project for us.”

Meanwhile, Clark says, Tomcat is looking for an East Coast office as well, in Nashville. The Tennessee native is clear in his preference for this city, both for sentimental reasons, and because of the presence of the country music industry, but the final decision awaits. “We will have the office open by the end of the second quarter.”

All this is part of what Clark calls “a fairly ambitious growth program in the States. We've been focused on the European market for the last two years, and now it's time to focus on the market that we know best.” Indeed, Clark's purchase of the UK firm Brilliant Stages from Vari-Lite in 1998 has been his main preoccupation since then: “We spent our first year together doing the Millennium Dome [in London], then looked at bringing the two companies together.” One of Tomcat's big recent installs was the Experience Music Project in Seattle, on which the company worked with Howland. That led to the Storm gig in Las Vegas, in which Clark says, “We're merging our talents, and those of Brilliant Stages, into one installation.”

Tomcat has made other alliances as well. The company has formed an agreement with the German firm BatAlpha to distribute the Modular System, an ethernet-based, computerized hoist control system, in the United States. “It's a really user-friendly device, to control whatever needs to be controlled,” says Clark, who adds that “the product is available now, and we're working to have it spec'd into a couple of major things at the moment.”

Among its recent projects, Clark mentions Disney's Jungle Adventure on Ice, which combines characters from various Disney films into one show.

“At the moment, our plate is really full, working on integrating the companies and dealing with new locations.”