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March 29, 2019

Honoring the ”Killer App” of staging

We often forget the way “killer apps” change the way we do things forever. How many people remember searching the internet before Google? How long ago does it seem that we went to payphones to check our voicemail and call our friends, instead of just reaching into our pockets and texting? Remember when you needed to go to an internet café to check your email when you weren’t at your desk? When the greatest technological shifts occur, we often quickly forget that they’ve even taken place, because they filled a need we had struggled a long time to work our way around.

At Stageline, we’re not often in a hurry to celebrate ourselves, because we like to think the quality of our work speaks for on its own. But when someone we respect chooses to celebrate us, we’re proud enough to tell the world. When we learned the board of the esteemed Parnelli Awards—celebrating the absolute best of the events industry—wished to bestow a Parnelli Visionary Award on Stageline founder Yvan Miron, we were elated. We were excited that Yvan would be honoured on the same stage as legendary tour/production manager Chris Adamson, who’s made tours possible for Pink Floyd, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, the Byrds, and more. And we were especially happy because it underlined how much our company has done to change forever the way live events are staged outdoors—at home here in Canada all across the United States, and around the world.

As bizarre as it may seem now, Yvan recalls that before Stageline set out, the stages for outdoor events were almost considered an afterthought. Promoters and event organizers would take whatever stage seemed to work indoors and drag it outside, with little consideration for the way it would interact with the wind and weather.

“Safety was not really a top priority. The show must go on and get the job done was the motto. recalls Yvan. “Staging was oftentimes a risky business. . It was clear to me, something had to be improved. There weren’t any safety standards. Everybody could improvise a stage. They would build the stage out of plywood. Even to this day, there are no official standards in the industry—not ones that we agree with.”

Yvan began Stageline with an idea to build stages that met existing building codes. But very quickly, the project took on a philosophical shift. When Stageline started out, stages were built structures, usually based on stacking many layers of materials on the ground, then holding them all down against the weather with heavy cabling.

What Stageline very quickly came to offer was not so much a better stage, but a different idea of what a stage should be.

“Before Stageline, a stage was a construction,” Yvan says. “We, Stageline, turned that into an equipment.”

When Yvan began his career, stages arrived on a trailer as huge piles of steel and plywood that would be unloaded and carried around with forklifts. Workers would build the stage from the ground up—often way up, climbing all over the structure to make sure it was stable.

Stageline’s self-contained mobile stages changed that.

“You don’t have to load or unload anything. It’s preassembled,” Yvan says. “You don’t even need tools to install the equipment. It’s mobile, it’s transported rapidly, it doesn’t need tools to be unfolded. This was one of Stageline’s major contributions: turning what used to be constructed stages into equipment.”

Parnelli Stageline

Stageline Team at the last Parnelli Awards

The nature of the killer app is that it makes life easier for everyone. Remember the years of trying to drive with one eye while staring at a map with another? Now GPS-powered maps give us voice instructions to our destinations. Likewise, remember when you had to shut down all of downtown for several days to set up for a city-centre show? That seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?

Yvan recalls the instance of a show in Manchester, UK, that would have required the entire city downtown be shut down for a week so the stage could be built.

“Imagine the traffic that’s all rerouted,” Yvan says. “It’s crazy. That’s where we come in handy, because as in the case in Manchester, the Star Hire crew got there and began staging early in the morning, and by 9:00 PM, everything was done. You know, mobile staging technology is taking over the outdoor stage market. There’s no way it can go back to conventional staging.. Now we are targeting the market of the very big stages. Stageline’s SAM Series has gotten bigger and bigger, we’re proving again our commitment to finding new ways to make staging bigger, better, and more breathtaking, all without ever compromising safety. At the same time, we’re building in other directions as well. Our newest product is mobile spaces—closed buildings with hard panels and HVAC systems transportable in containers, which can be connected together into greater structures.

Today, Stageline doesn’t think of itself so much as a company that builds mobile stages as it does a company that comes up with new directions to push staging—all without compromising our iron-clad commitment to safety and low carbon emissions. More than 35 years ago, Yvan began wondering whether it would be possible to make a safer stage that was both more weather-resistant and easier to transport and install. Stageline made that possible. Today, with our stages in nearly 50 countries and stage-owners coming to us trying to turn their staging imaginations into reality, the challenges we throw ourselves into are always getting larger.

So, too, is our team. We hire engineers, techs, from all across North America to help us reimagine what outdoor staging could be, and we’re always on the lookout for those who know how to dream big without risking safety.

We’re proud of our accomplishments—and we are honoured to see the esteemed Parnelli Awards recognizing Yvan for his decades of contribution. But we never forget that Stageline is a company focused on the future: our goal is always to continue finding ways to make the seemingly impossible possible, and our team will always be open to those for whom the impossible is nothing more than a challenge for them to make possible.