VOL. 127 | NO. 137 | Monday, July 16, 2012
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
SPECIAL EMPHASIS: Business of Entertainment
Resource Entertainment Group Plans Growth, New Offerings
By MICHAEL WADDELL
Resource Entertainment Group is continuing a steady growth path and looks to expand thanks to a new website as well as management of a new Downtown event space called The Columns.
Resource Entertainment Group partners are Paul Chandler, from left, Rollin Riggs, Howard Stovall and Mike Brocato. The company books and plans events across the country.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
The entertainment services company specializes in live entertainment, production services, entertainment consulting and event programming expertise. The company manages some of the Mid-South’s most popular entertainers and provides bands, DJs, speakers, audio systems, concert lighting, staging and tech crews.
“We produce events ranging from a solo harpist performance for a wedding to a major four-day festival,” said REG partner Rollin Riggs.
Riggs, Paul Chandler and Howard Stovall formed REG in 2004. Before founding REG, Chandler and Stovall helped create the Live at the Garden series at Memphis Botanic Garden. Stovall had also been the executive director of the Blues Foundation, while Chandler was assistant director at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre.
One year later in 2005 they brought on fourth partner Mike Brocato and his expertise with booking local and regional entertainment.
Now REG retains exclusive rights with an assortment of local and regional acts including the Beale Street flippers and Ruby Wilson.
“We pride ourselves on being the company that has put more money in the pockets of Memphis entertainers than anybody else,” Riggs said. “REG has paid out more than $14 million to local entertainers and entertainment service people since 2004. It’s something we are really proud of within our office, and it’s really the reason we are in business.
“Some of them are full-time working entertainers and some are weekend warriors, but they all have excellent reputations and tremendous talent in entertaining an audience, whether it’s at a festival, wedding or corporate event.”
REG currently handles approximately 1,200 projects per year.
For the past three years, the company has arranged the staging and entertainment for Collierville’s Fourth of July fireworks event, which took place July 3 and drew about 20,000 people.
“They are very professional, easy to work with, and accommodating of our needs,” said Sheila Moody, special events coordinator for the town of Collierville. “REG comes in the day before the event, sets up the stage and makes sure the sound is perfect. They do a fabulous job.”
Looking around the city, REG works with both The Peabody and Madison hotels on their very successful rooftop parties every Thursday night in the summer.
“We’ve produced the signature Downtown rooftop events for six or seven years each,” Riggs said. “This year both events are averaging their biggest crowds ever, with The Peabody events topping 1,500 people per night.”
REG does two-thirds of its business within a 200-mile radius of Memphis, including Little Rock, Hot Springs and Jonesboro, Ark., as well as in West Tennessee. Riggs sees opportunity for growth in enlarging that territory and hopes the company’s new website will help facilitate that growth.
“We just created regmemphis.com to assist us in expanding geographically and to serve our customers in a broader geographic radius than we ever have before,” Riggs said.
Also new for the firm is management of the Downtown event space, The Columns, at the corner of Second Street and Monroe Avenue.
“It’s becoming a very popular space for large-scale private events like fundraising galas, weddings and corporate events,” Riggs said. “In addition to managing the room, we also produce events there.”
In preparing for any event, REG staff must consider the client’s needs, the message they want to deliver, the goal of the event, the space available, the size of the audience, thematic elements and budgetary concerns.
Chandler and Stovall handle many of the projects involving national touring acts. They have booked big-name acts like Lyle Lovett, Natalie Cole, B.B. King, Elton John, and many others, and they are currently working a deal involving Willie Nelson.
One of Chandler’s professional highlights came in 2009 when he helped book James Taylor and a 38-piece orchestra for a corporate event in Palm Desert, Calif.
“It was really spectacular,” Chandler said. “During rehearsal, James Taylor said he was so excited because he had not played with an orchestra behind him in 16 years. He said he had forgotten how magical it could be and wanted to take it on tour.”
Chandler also cites booking the Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi) for a separate corporate event later that year as another favorite.
Riggs points out that the rough economy of the past few years has made it more difficult for REG to grow as much as they had hoped.
“Business is beginning to come back following a very difficult economy for the past few years. Starting in 2008 the big corporate events dried up,” Riggs said, referring to the backlash after the massive corporate bailouts. “Now our clients are more cost-conscious than ever. People and companies still need to use entertainment to get a message across, whether it’s to their franchisees, the general public or their friends and family. Entertainment makes a statement, and we believe and can show that time after time it is a very cost-effective way to make an effective statement.”
Riggs sees an opportunity for growth working with casinos to program their entertainment agendas.
“We’ve done it successfully for several casinos in the region, including Southland Park, Harrah’s, Roadhouse, the Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia, Miss., and the Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg, Miss.,” Riggs said.
Among the many projects upcoming for REG, preparations are under way for the River Arts Festival to be held Downtown in early October. More than 80,000 people are expected at the event.