Stagecraft Industries celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The company works on projects such as its collaboration with theatre consultants Landry and Bogan on the 740-seat Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall located at the Clovis (CA) North Education Center campus. It features a 10,000-lb. adjustable acoustical canopy over stage requiring a motor-assisted counterweight system and intricate motor control programming. It also has variable acoustic curtains that can be adjusted to accommodate a wide range of users in the auditorium. The company also recently worked on a renovation of the auditorium at Lewis and Clark HS in Spokane, WA.
We caught up with Kevin Shetterly, sales manager, rigging/draperies to discuss the company’s history and current state of business.
Tell us about the evolution of the company over the last five decades.
Looking over old catalogs, talking with some of the founders, now in their 80s, I realize what an interesting history this company has. It started as the “stagecraft shop,” a small division of a large school supply company, relegated to the bowels of the building. It provided the stage curtains, tracks, and lighting for school auditoriums that happened to be sold along with the normal lockers and black boards. There was a group of four employees that thought they could make a business providing just stage equipment and supplies. They approached the owners of the school supply company and eventually bought the division. Business took off after that; the post-World War II era building boom was in full swing. School auditoriums remained the main focus, and the company developed stage layouts for multi-purpose rooms that are still in use today. They eventually took on larger performing arts centers projects, building everything including dimmers, lighting fixtures, and patch panels. In 1963, Stagecraft won the contract for Portland’s Memorial Coliseum. Inside is an operable curtain that is still one of the largest continuous curtains in the world. We have evolved into a combination manufacturer, packager, installer, and our coordination service of all this equipment is very valuable to anyone trying to build a performance space.
What is the general makeup of the company (ie, rigging, staging, drapery, manufacturing, custom)?
We are primarily a rigging and drapery company. We have one of the largest stage curtain sewing rooms on the West coast and a large metal shop that assembles curtain tracks, builds arbors, battens, and tension wire grids (and anything else the theatre consultant might dream up! We also have a UL 508 shop to make index lights, raceways, company switches, emergency lighting transfer cabinets, and motor controls. We are unique because we do not subcontract out our installation service; we believe this is a crucial final step in quality control.
From where does the bulk of your business come these days?
The bulk of our business remains the educational performance space. That can mean an elementary school platform, a high school auditorium, college music hall, or a choral room with acoustic curtains.
How is the company doing with the last two years of recession?
Overall we are very healthy. We, like most, remain cautiously optimistic.
Tell us about a recent project of which you’re particularly proud.
I am always happy when we are able to breathe new life into an old school auditorium. There is such a need for this service, and can be more affordable that building new. The end users are always so thrilled and appreciative, because they have had to live with an old system for years. I am proud of our contribution to the performing arts through educational facilities.
What is something you’d like people to know about Stagecraft that they might not already know?
We have over 21,000 projects filed in archives. Our equipment can be found in just about every school auditorium in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, and Arizona. You can enter your school’s name on our website and get the original job number. We had over 400 jobs in progress in 2009 and produce close to 800 quotations per year. We have the biggest full-time installation crew of any West coast stage equipment company, and it is also considered the best by many consultants.