The startling industry news announced on Friday-that Production Resource Group and VLPS Lighting Services International would merge, forming a wholly owned subsidiary of PRG-had been in discussions for nearly five years but had heated up significantly in the past three months, according to the two men most closely involved in the negotiations, PRG’s Jere Harris and VLPS’ Rusty Brutsche.

Improved conditions in the industry and better financial markets helped spur the sale, the duo explain. According to Harris, the move was less about money and more about inventories. "There was a real desire on mine and Rusty’s 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 M-Box 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, Brutshe 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, Brutshe indicated that the M-Box 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 that board more compatible with digital lighting technology.

The duo noted that 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," [ie extra staff], while Brutsche added that there was very little overlap in the various cities in which the companies had offices, with one company having a large presence in some cities and the other smaller, and vice versa. Some clerical jobs might be affected, but warehouse and technology staff should remain relatively unscathed.

"This is a merger of equals," Harris noted of the pairing, not only of the two companies but also of himself and Brutsche. "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."

For more information on the merger, click here.