Matthew Tonks is a Senior Bid Manager based out of TAIT’s UK office. His nearly 20 years at TAIT has led to longstanding client relationships and invaluable market intelligence. In this TAIT Talks, Matthew talks about TAIT’s involvement in the Middle East, its acquisition of Kinesys, its rental equipment and future projects.
How long have you been with TAIT?
I have worked in the London office for 18 years, and in that time have seen massive changes. When I joined, I was employee no. 23, now I am part of a global team of over 800 with over 200 staff in the UK.
One of the many offices that TAIT has around the world is in Dubai. Why there?
A few years ago, Franco Dragone teamed up with Al Habtoor Group to create the amazing production that is now La Perle. We worked on several previous productions with Franco and were fortunate to win a significant contract to supply automation for the show in Dubai. While working there, we recognized how prominent live event productions were in the region and began seeing increased opportunities; thus, we created the Dubai office to support these. We have since completed several more installation projects in Dubai.
Which other countries in the Middle East has TAIT worked in?
Over several years we have completed installation projects in Saudi Arabia and Oman, as well as, UAE.
Why is TAIT different than other stage engineering and automation providers operating in the region?
TAIT is a world leader in providing live event experiences. We can provide a large range of services to support artists and their creative teams. Our client list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the global entertainment industry, although many of our clients swear us to secrecy so we cannot name them! We are unique because we can provide a complete package from the original creative concept all the way through to a finished high-quality installation using equipment manufactured by us in UK and USA, and then provide support to the owners and operators. Many of the other providers of stage machinery and automation in the region are system integrators who do not have the knowledge, skills and resources that TAIT provides.
What projects is TAIT working on in the region at the moment?
We are working on a major installation for one of the iconic pavilions at EXPO 2020, which is of course the focus of a great deal of activity now in Dubai.
Can you share more information about your involvement in EXPO 2020?
I can’t share much, but what I can share is TAIT is proud to have been awarded a significant contract by Arabtec Construction, on behalf of the UAE National Media Council, to provide stage machinery and controls for the UAE National Pavilion at Dubai World Expo 2020. The iconic pavilion, one of the centrepieces of EXPO 2020, has been designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and is being built by Arabtec Construction. As shared previously, TAIT completed several prestigious theatre machinery installations in UAE in recent years and looks forward to completing this project in collaboration with the National Media Council.
Does TAIT have any local dealers or representatives?
Globally our business model is, wherever possible, to contract directly for installation projects although we will sometimes partner with local companies on a project-by-project basis. We do not work through dealers or agents. We like direct lines of communication with the client without too many middlemen involved. It makes for seamless progress and happy clients.
Does TAIT provide consultancy services?
We do not operate as a consultancy business, but of course we provide assistance to our clients, friends and partners. We often undertake work on a ‘design and build’ basis which many of our clients take advantage of, especially since it’s a collaborative way of working together on complex projects. Delivering a finished project having started with a napkin sketch can be very rewarding.
How does TAIT provide support for its customers in the region?
TAIT operates a global support system to provide world class support to our customers all over the world. With offices on three continents there is always somebody available to help 24/7, even if you are on a cruise ship in the mid Pacific. We recognise that our clients make a major investment when purchasing automation and its support package; so, we will be there to support them.
Is TAIT equipment available for rental?
Yes. We provide rental equipment from multiple locations including from our newest acquisition, Kinesys.
Fun fact: TAIT’s London office started supplying equipment on a rental basis for temporary installations for shows in the West End of London 24 years ago; and that is still a core part of our business. Our concert touring business operates primarily out of North America providing equipment for the global concert touring industry as well as other temporary installations around the world. In UAE we have worked with local event companies on many occasions to supply specialist equipment that is not available in the local market, for example, complex performer flying systems. Some of our most exciting temporary installations have been for large ceremonies for major sporting events and other spectacular large-scale one-off shows, such as national day celebrations.
TAIT recently acquired Kinesys. What impact do you see that having on the industry and clients?
Kinesys is a fantastic automation company that has built a loyal client base around the world. Their products can often be found in use alongside equipment provided by TAIT and we see in the future that their product range will complement TAIT’s solutions. We expect soon to be able to integrate their products with our systems, and to be able to use our ‘iQ Powered by Navigator’ user interface to run Kinesys equipment alongside TAIT equipment. This will give operators better tools to work with to deliver the creative vision. We expect that this combination will make it even easier for clients to start using powerful automation systems for their projects.
What type of projects would TAIT like to be involved with in the future?
We relish being involved at the creative stage and working with the rest of the design team to find the best solutions to deliver the artist’s vision. Our projects are very varied and include installations of theatre equipment in performing arts centres and theme parks, kinetic architecture in public spaces, such as shopping malls, and private spaces such as office buildings as well as installations for brand activations and immersive experiences. Permanent Installation projects and Temporary Installation projects have very different life cycles and procurement routes, but we are very active in both these market sectors and transfer knowledge and resources between the two.
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