Sound and Stage MagazineClick here

Gulf Crewing Company Celebrates 18 Months

Dubai based Gulf Crewing Company (GCC) celebrates it’s 18 month Birthday with a remarkable success story which has seen the company expand rapidly and the staff increase by 300 %.

Gulf Crewing Company was launched in November 2008 – at the height of the credit crunch – by Jo Marshall, Nigel Beaton and Shane Manning all of whom have considerable experience working in various aspects of the live events industry.

The concept is to provide a first class European style crewing operation to supply skilled, qualified efficient crew and technicians for all types of events.

Beaton had been working in the Middle East as a freelancer and realised that there was a real need for a professionally run and organised crew service on these lines. He and Marshall – a show technical director/production manager and now heading Al Laith Events Services, formed GCC along with Manning, an experienced rigger, to fill that vacuum.

Gulf Crewing set out to create new standards for others to follow and carve out a unique niche in the region. “The idea is to equip all our crew with the knowledge, training and experience to offer the very best service and support at all events – from corporate to Rock ‘n’ roll,” explains Marshall.

The company started with the three of them plus Shabbir Muhammed, who is still on the team, and has now expanded to 23 full time employees plus a pool of freelancers and an office manager, based in central Dubai. They have a trade license to work throughout the UAE and have recently undertaken projects in Oman and other Middle East countries, with more international work planned as the company grows. All employees have a good understanding of English, both spoken and written and an awareness of the latest health & safety regulations, from using and understanding the correct PPE, to working at height and on the ground with riggers overhead, etc. They have cherry picker, forklift and other MEWP and tele-handling vehicle licences. Whilst on duty they wear smart practical uniforms so GCC personnel are instantly recognisable on site. Other good working practices like punctuality, cleanliness and politeness are a given.

“Our aim is to present the best crew with the best attitude and technical skills,” affirms Beaton, adding that their success in the short time period has been down to creating a well organised, service-driven operation that has impressed numerous clients first hand.

All GCC members are required to have a basic understanding of all the technical disciplines – lighting, audio, AV & video, rigging, staging scaffolding, power, etc., with many having considerably more than ‘basic’ knowledge. The opportunity is also there for anyone ambitious and wanting to get on to learn new and further skills, and this is actively encouraged.

Those wanting to join have to be recommended. Other than being capable of lateral thinking and applying common sense, being dedicated to the job and proud of their work is a must. “They are also often our front line staff representative with the client on site,” explains Marshall, “So presentation and the responsibilities they take on and the difference they can make are very real”.

All GCC employees receive medical insurance, a good basic salary with paid leave and paid overtime. The idea is to run the company very much in keeping with internationally recognised industry standards and provide something unique in the Gulf region.

The meteoric success of Gulf Crewing Company has proved that they are getting several things right, and this has also been boosted by a recovery in the events market after a tough year in 2009.

Recent GCC work has included all of Abu Dhabi based Flash Events’ major shows in the last 6 months, various projects in Ferrari World, and shows for leading Dubai production companies like HQ Creative, Mamemo, IBS D├ęcor and Showtex to name a few.

They crewed the F1 opening concert on Yas Island and the F1 Welcome Village on the Corniche, Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull Air Race and the Dubai World Cup horse racing concerts.

The core GCC team can supply much larger teams of up to 500 people as was the case with the Red Bull Air race being staged on the same day as the Dubai World Cup Horse Race amongst other events, where they supplied all the production labour for both events, peaking at 160 on the busiest days.

With the new events season on the horizon in September, the crew is being increased, and Beaton is shortly visiting the Philippines to interview and hopefully recruit another 10 personnel. The cultural diversity of GCC reflects Dubai’s cosmopolitan ethnic mix and currently includes individuals from 6 different nationalities – Australian, Welsh, British, Indian, Pakistani and Filipino.

A new Rigging Division of GCC is being set up run by Shane Manning, intended to fill a hole in the UAE market and further afield. “Realistically there are only a handful of experienced, trained riggers here full time” says Manning, “and when the season gets busy, there is a severe shortage of good quality rigging crew”. The intention is not to buy kit, but invest in supplying competent and more importantly, safe riggers and ground crew.

As part of the training, GCC riggers will be attending a 5 day rigging course hosted by trussing manufacturer Prolyte, in co-operation with Neumann & Mueller Dubai. This will cover all the main theoretical rigging skills like risk assessments, rigging basics, calculations, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), hoist technology & controllers, as well as a hands-on workshop and trussing technology. An examination at the end will give the attendees an indication of their comprehension of the offered topics.