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Solotech Expands U.S. Operations While Preparing for a Return to Touring

Matthew Zahn • Company 411June 2021 • June 10, 2021

Solotech is supporting Morris client Old Dominion on their 2021 tour running from May to December. Pictured here, the band performs at Coffee Butler Amphitheater in Key West, FL.

Strategic expansion into Nashville positions the company for a strong re-entry to live productions, creating expanded opportunities for new and existing clients

The new 130,000-square-foot facility in Antioch, TN, near Nashville, is filling up with gear.

Solotech had begun its expansion in the U.S. market through acquisitions in Nashville prior to Covid. When Morris Light & Sound became part of their discussions, they jumped at the opportunity to assume the talents and equipment of such a well-respected company. “When we were introduced to the people of Morris Light & Sound, it was just too good to be true,” says Mickey Curbishley, Solotech’s U.S. & U.K. President of Live Productions. “This was an exceptional group of talented people, and such a natural fit.” Solotech’s CEO, Martin Tremblay, made a bold decision during an uncertain time to take the opportunity to acquire Morris. His vision to invest in Nashville and build a custom state-of-the-art facility to allow the Solotech team to better serve existing and future clients.

“Solotech is always looking for strong strategic partners,” Lee Moro, VP Live Productions U.S., adds. “It’s about aligning with people with the same DNA. Morris built a team of exceptional people with a reputation for quality and we are glad to have them as a part of the Solotech team now.”

Joseph Logsdon, Account Manager, who has been with Morris since 2014, and is now a member of the Solotech team, backs up Curbishley and Moro’s take on the chemistry: “Solotech has a family atmosphere,” he says. “The way they interact shows a level of respect, caring, and focus, which is the kind of thing you just don’t find in a big company.”

“Morris is a big name in Nashville, and [founder] Dale [Morris] has great relationships with a wide range of artists,” says Logsdon. The goal is, of course, for Morris clients to become Solotech clients, and the team is committed to giving them the best of the best. It’s off to a good start: Morris client Old Dominion took off on tour in May with lighting supplied by Morris/Solotech, and that band and crew plan to keep on the road until December. Meanwhile, many other artists on both company’s rosters are prepping for a big return in late summer and into fall.

The Nashville expansion will allow Solotech to have three main strategically placed U.S. locations for their Live Productions business — Nashville will handle the area to the East, Orlando will handle the South and their Las Vegas office will continue to handle the West. Each facility holds state-of-the-art gear, but it’s the team behind the gear that brings everything to life.

Solotech’s U.S. & U.K. President of Live Productions

‡‡         All-Star Lineup

Curbishley grew up in the business. His parents had a London-based management company working with acts like The Who, Page and Plant and Judas Priest. He left school at 16 and joined AC/DC on the road as a merchandiser. “I traveled throughout Europe and fell in love with the touring life,” he says. Thus began what must be one of the most explosive career arcs in the business. The following year, he got a job with Tasco and hit the road as a lighting technician for Elton John, then bounced between Tasco and Light & Sound Design (LSD) for years, working with everyone from Guns N’ Roses to Frank Sinatra. Mickey was with Eric Clapton in 1990 when opening act Stevie Ray Vaughan tragically went down in a helicopter that also included some of Clapton’s crew. Clapton turned to the then 25-year-old Curbishley and asked him to be tour manager. “I found myself taking care of Eric and his ‘Super Band,’ which included the likes of George Harrison and Phil Collins. At the end of that tour, Curbishley came off the road and was part of the group that bought Light & Sound Design, where he spent five years building that up before selling it to PRG. In March of 2018, Mickey joined the Solotech team and became President of Solotech Live Productions in the U.S. and U.K.

Curbishley credits Solotech CEO Martin Tremblay with the vision to expand and invest in the company. “He’s done an amazing job powering the company forward with a commitment to global growth,” Curbishley says. “The commitment Martin has made, specifically to growth in the U.S., really shows where he wants the company to go. His continued plan of expansion during this time showed a lot of guts,” but he says it also underscored the company’s belief that business will come back bigger than ever — and Solotech will be ready for it.

Lee Moro, VP, Live Productions, U.S.

Today he’s VP — Live Productions USA for Solotech, but Lee Moro started out unassumingly enough in Windsor, Ontario. “I was a teen musician going to make it playing clubs, but then I noticed I wasn’t getting paid.” He also noticed the crew was, so that’s where he headed. He gravitated toward working in venues around Canada, and by the early 1990s, he was on the road and eventually worked his way up to production manager. His time on the road was bittersweet because it neared the end with the last Tragically Hip Tour in 2016, and he was there for the band’s last show at Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston in 2016 that was broadcast globally.

Before and after that, other artists he worked with included Norah Jones, Chance The Rapper, Michael Bublé, and even a few Alabama gigs. “As a Canadian, I was a client of Solotech’s for many acts,” he says. He moved to Nashville to work for Meyer Sound in 2007, and in 2014, he was hired by Richard Lachance and Dean Roney, who manages the Las Vegas Live Production business (in addition to being a Parnelli Awards Board of Advisors member). “Solotech is a company I always admired. They had the smartest people and were super passionate.”

“The thing about Lee [Moro] is he is always out there fighting for ways to make this business better,” Logsdon says. “He fights for his employees; he fights for his clients — he cares. In all organizations, leadership dictates the culture, and with him and Mickey at the top, we have as good of people as we can have.” Backing up Moro and supporting the Nashville division is Jason McCarrick, who is the director of operations. McCarrick has been with Solotech for five years and brings 20 plus years of touring experience, supporting Metallica, Rod Stewart, Madonna and many more.

Solotech’s West Coast office is in the heart of the production industry, Las Vegas, and Dean Roney, vice president of touring, leads that office with his 40-plus years of production experience. From FOH mixer, monitor mixer, production manager, tour manager and promoter rep — he’s done it all. Roney has worked with Taylor Swift, Tragically Hip, Justin Timberlake and more. “Solotech is a company full of great people with real world experience. We are rapidly expanding in the U.S. and globally. We’re all excited to watch this family grow and continue to support our clients,” says Roney.

John Flynn, who joined Solotech in 2019 after 10 years of touring, is moving from the UK to the USA to become the senior director of production for Solotech U.S.

John Flynn joined the Solotech team in 2019 after 10 years of doing freelance work and traveling the world with some of the most iconic tours to hit the road in the last decade. He will soon be relocating to the U.S. from the U.K. to become the senior director of production for Solotech U.S. When asked about his upcoming move to the U.S., Flynn says, “I’m very excited! When the opportunity came up, I knew I had to take it. This isn’t something I would want to look back on in 10 years and say, ‘I wonder if that would’ve worked out,’” laughs Flynn. “The U.S. has been like my second home for many years, so it’s not such a crazy transition.

“Solotech as a company is very innovative and constantly works to be the leader in the industry,” Flynn adds. “We invest in state-of-the-art technology to benefit our clients, such as our previsualization experience. This is something we are really working on with Vectorworks. We want to provide our clients with the most immersive experience possible before the gear leaves our warehouse to head to rehearsal.”

Helena Pygrum will be focused on managing the U.S. crews nationwide for all live production events in the U.S.

Solotech is continuing to recruit industry leaders who will round out the already existing, all-star team that has been put together. Prominent lighting director Harry Forster, who is known for his work with Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and others, has joined the team as director of sales for the U.S. Helena Pygrum comes to Solotech with a vast wealth of knowledge of the live productions industry. She will be focused on managing the U.S. crews nationwide for all live production events in the U.S. Jim Yakabuski has joined the Solotech team and will be relocating to Nashville to manage the audio department. Like Moro, Yakabuski started out mixing bar bands in Canada and later transitioned to working concerts in the U.S. for acts such as Aerosmith, Van Halen, Journey and others. Keep an eye out for Solotech to announce more new hires as the team continues to grow in the U.S. and as they prepare for the grand opening of the new Nashville facility.

The new 130,000-square-foot facility in Antioch, TN, near Nashville, is filling up with gear.

‡‡         New Facility, Gear Galore — Full Service

The new 130,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility is located in Antioch, TN, a few minutes southeast of Nashville. Solotech has completed the outer structure and is starting the build out, with plans to move in within the next few months. “It’ll be a facility where everything is under one roof for Live Productions, in addition to our Sales and Systems Integration Division,” Moro says. “We will have a space where on the last day of rehearsal the production manager knows it’s show ready.” There will be a luxury previz suite available 24/7 with electronic access, full comfort amenities including an on-site shower and kitchen, and access to the conference rooms. The large flexible rehearsal space will have state-of-the-art rigging where they can certify their motors as well as a paint booth to keep their road cases looking fresh as they hit the road.

If you’re wondering about the inventory, don’t worry — Solotech has it — and if they don’t, they will find it for you. Solotech acquired a wealth of inventory from Morris Light & Sound including additional Ayrton, Chauvet, Claypaky, Elation, Martin, Robe, and Vari*Lite luminaires and, on the audio side, d&b audiotechnik speaker systems. Solotech maintains many of those brands and then some. “As anyone who works in lighting will say, the ‘gear’ grass is always greener on the other side — you always want the fixture you don’t have,” says Logsdon. “Both companies had inventories that are fantastic, and now they fit with each other like a puzzle.”

Solotech’s video services are a major selling point, since video is now such an integral part of the touring experience. “Solotech’s video department is so expansive that it’s divided into sections,” says Moro. “There’s camera world, LED tile wall world, etc. — Solotech has high standards and great product lines. If you can dream of a camera/component set up, we have it — and if we don’t, we’ll find what you need to make your event a success.”

Moro adds it’s more than gear: “Morris made great gear decisions, but more importantly, they have talented people. I come from being a road guy, and I want to know who is on the other end of the line.”

‡‡         Local Attention, Global Reach

All acknowledge that there are many others in Nashville serving the concert touring business, but Curbishley points out that Solotech is “truly a global player, and many of the clients coming out of Nashville are global artists these days.”

Logsdon agrees. “The exciting thing about Solotech is their experience in crossing borders, of knowing international standards of what the production requirements are in each country. They have a depth of knowledge in international safety standards and compliance technology creating a broad global reach.”

“So, whether it’s a local gig at a park in town or a worldwide tour, it doesn’t matter,” adds Moro. “We can do whatever needs to be done now.”

‡‡         Integrating Integration

InteRise, the integration division of Morris, was a significant player within the integration realm. The incorporation of this division and its tremendously talented team into Solotech’s Sales and Systems Integration Division broadens the scope of what they offer while adding a strong presence in the houses of worship market. For so many industry businesses, system integration work has been a buoy to keep a company afloat during this past year. Solotech’s Sales and Systems Integration Division is a global leader in audio-visual installations and conferencing/collaboration technology, providing solutions to markets such as corporate, theaters, arenas, houses of worship, education and more. The new facility will have 10,000 square feet dedicated to systems integration, bringing the entire Nashville Solotech team under one roof.

‡‡         A Bright Future

“The world has a bright future post-Covid,” Logsdon says. “More shows, bigger shows, better shows, and now our clients have more options when designing that next great show. These include designs that are outside the box, and maybe have especially complicated rigging — the team is here for whatever they need.”

“Nashville today is a real hopper for our industry,” Curbishley adds. “It’s a great place if you’re looking for technicians — there’s just a wealth of talent here. And today, it’s not just about country acts, because all genres are represented here. It’s a good place to live and raise a family.”

And apparently create a new one.

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