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Jun 7, 2017

Q and A: Adam McCann from EVENTelec

General Manager of Major Partner EVENTelec Adam McCann talks about learning events from the ground up, sharing himself around the industry, why Australian events are unique and moving his wedding for work commitments...

What do you do at EVENTelec?

I'm the General Manager at EVENTelec. My primary role has two pretty simple focuses. To ensure as a group we provide our clients with a consistently high level of customer service and product to their events, and to provide a balanced and enjoyable workplace for our employees. In words, it seems quite simple but as we continue to see impressive growth year on year over the past seven years, it has its challenges to ensure we stay focused and we improve with each project.

Give us a little peek at your career background before your current role at EVENTelec.

For someone who is still very young of course…(!!!) I’ve shared myself around the industry quite a bit over the past 25 years. I was 18 or 19 when employed as a warehouse assistant at Moreton Hire on the Gold Coast. I started out processing furniture and catering equipment, vacuuming offices, and sweeping the warehouse floors, learning everything from the ground up. I progressed into the operations department quite early on. After 12 years with Moreton Hire, I went freelancing in event project management for a couple of years - I managed the event operations for the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in 2000 and continued that role while joining other companies through to 2015. I joined Exhibition Hire (now Exponet) as Operations Manager for their new Queensland branch, later becoming Branch Manager. Opening up branches is invaluable experience; it’s intensely hard work and character building. I jumped the fence after that, spending some exciting times with Event Production Management (EPM) in a sales and marketing role. Not knowing a great deal about what I was doing at the start, my first cold call was to Metcash Group chasing their IGA Gala Awards and Chairman’s Dinner, an awards night EPM still produces to this day. I got back into the event infrastructure supply side with Pages Hire for three years, after which, I had planned to go out and do my own thing again when I received a call from James Neilsen, the owner of EVENTelec, to catch up. We had a beer and I’ve been with EVENTelec since 2010 in my current role, continuing to enjoy working with a great team and organically growing the business.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The variety and the strong team work that you experience on well-executed events. It’s very rewarding. Everyone works together towards the same common goal.

How would your friends and colleagues describe you?

That would definitely depend on who you ask. But I would like to think they would say, “trustworthy”. Trust is a big thing for me and colleagues have to have trust in you to perform and deliver at a high standard. You have to earn trust much like respect, it’s not free.

What sets EVENTelec apart from its competitors?

Our people. Like our tag line says: “There’s no 2nd chance with electrical – Experience is everything. Experience our people.” I’d hate to think how many thousands of electrical companies are out there. We just focus on what we do best and that’s specialising in event temporary overlay. We don’t over complicate it.

What kinds of events does EVENTelec typically lend its services to?

If you think it’s too hard to power up then that’s our specialty. Obviously, a good example would be a Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay Bluesfest or CMC Rocks QLD as they are large festival footprints in their own right with no electrical infrastructure in place. So the temporary electrical overlay component is quite large and varied. However, we also install at major venues by increasing the mains supply with additional temporary overlay and backups such as the Brisbane International Tennis, the recently played Sudirman Cup World Badminton Championships and Supercars footprint throughout the streets of the Gold Coast or Newcastle.

What’s the most interesting event you’ve ever worked on with EVENTelec?

Depends on what you mean. Interesting…There’s been some “interesting” ones but I’d probably have to say the G20 in Brisbane. Logistically very interesting.

What’s your favourite Australian event and why?

It would have to be the XXXX Gold Beach Cricket series. I worked on that event for three years on Australia’s iconic beaches in summer with some of the greats of the international cricket game. It didn’t get much more Aussie than having a beer, wearing your bucket hat, on the beach watching the Aussies beat the West Indies. It really was one of those events you wish had a longer life. Although it’s hard to go past a gala dinner at the base of Simpsons Gap near Alice Springs while Aboriginal Australian soprano singer Deborah Cheetham entertained the guests.

What is something few people would know about EVENTelec?

We also own a boating business, Fishing and Leisure Boats and Nitro Marine on the Gold Coast. So there’s a free plug. If you’re in the market for a new boat, I can get you onto the right people.

What do you think Australian events say about our culture? What makes them unique?

It says to the world that we punch way above our weight when it comes to producing events on a world stage that’s for certain. Our events industry daily showcase our heritage, diversity and multicultural lifestyle and showcases our unique locations. We are spoilt for locations that are unique to our culture. Every state and territory has amazing locations and sites, which forms the basis of who we are as a nation.

What do you think lies ahead for Australian events? Good or bad?

A challenge I see ahead for both organisers and suppliers is what affects us all and that is rising costs. I think the increasing operating costs across the board and the competitive market in Australia is a real challenge for everyone to balance the sheets and be successful. Not only for promoters and organisers but the additional cost of sale for suppliers to what is a fair and sustainable return on cost is getting tighter. For us, just the continuing increase in electrical licensing, insurance and being compliant nationally puts enormous pressures on our operating budget. If I was to simply pass on those costs in full we wouldn’t be competitive. In the bigger picture, at some point the end user is just not going to pay it. If you’re not investing in technology and efficiencies I think we all face some rocky roads ahead and it will become unviable financially to stage an event or to attend one.

On a more positive front I see the events industry will continue be innovative and bold. I still go onsite and say “wow what a great idea” or “wow that looks good”. The industry keeps pushing the boundaries and if boundaries are being pushed you can never go backwards.

Who gave you your start in the events industry?

It was the Operations Manager at Moreton Hire Gold Coast, Barbara Skaken. An extremely strong but fair women that kept everyone on their toes. She was an amazing teacher for me, being so young, especially in the art of project planning and working to people's strengths. She always taught me that the hard work was in the planning and then back yourself; onsite is the easy part (not in a physical sense). She was someone that you respected but at the same time she wasn’t shy to put you in your place if it was warranted.

Who has been the most influential person in your time in the events industry?

Easy question - I’d have to say my wife, by a mile. Of course in 25 years I’ve worked with some influential people and I still do. I met my wife in the industry more than 22 years ago and we have three amazing children. She has supported and followed my entire career and whilst I seem to be away every school holiday or significant date she continues to support me and be an amazing mother to our family. Although she never has let me forget that we did move our wedding date for work…in hindsight it wasn’t my best decision!

Why did EVENTelec choose to support Best Cultural, Arts or Music Event at the Event Awards?

Firstly we wanted to get involved and support the Australian Event Awards and Symposium as we believe these showcase, acknowledge and reward industry achievers and provide a platform to be better at what we do as a group. At EVENTelec we are truly committed in supporting and giving back to local grass roots community groups, long-term clients and events that have supported and partnered with us over the years. We chose Best Cultural, Arts or Music Event as we felt it best fitted in with the type of large events that we are lucky enough to work on and support.