Peter Gibbons | How I built LUX Technical

LUX Technical Ltd is a specialist live event production and technical design company, working throughout the UK and internationally. LUX have worked with some large brand names including Adidas and Facebook as well as Amazon and The Savoy. We chat to Peter Gibbons, Managing Director on how he grew LUX to the extraordinary team it is today. Celebrating Entrepreneur’s Month together!

Why Event Production? Where did this business idea come from?

“Born out of a love for live theatre, music, visual arts and film. I guess it all began when we were looking after the sound and lighting for our school plays and providing the end of year discos! Also attending a local film club – ‘movie makers’, we used to spend our summers making films as a large group having so many trips and adventures, before cutting together all the rushes and premiering our hard work on the local big screen. 

The business was born out of a desire to continue supporting our local schools, colleges and theatres with the tech for their productions, supplemented initially with the odd disco and Christmas party here and there. I started to set the business up in 2009 when I was studying Technical Theatre at college, making the most of all the local contacts I had at the time. With a £5,000 loan from my parents, I bought some basic sound and lighting kit and I found a couple of local hire companies to supplement the shortfalls I had.”

LUX… it’s such an intriguing name, what is the concept behind it?

“The name of my business was always really important to me, it needed to be scalable as the business grew, ideally allowing us to appear a little bigger than we were in the early years, and I also liked the idea that, should we venture into different industry disciplines, we could use the same prefix ‘LUX’.  So often I would hear people say ‘LUX, I’m sure I’ve heard of you guys before, I’m just not sure where…’ that was really satisfying, I’m not sure many of them had actually heard of us before, but the name was working for me, I believe we sounded pretty established before people began to deal with us.

LUX is a unit of illuminance, used to measure the intensity of light as perceived by the human eye. Pretty cool name I thought, later I would learn that in the events industry we often accept LUX as an abbreviation for luxury.”

 You have come so far… what has been the biggest build/design so far?

That’s lovely to hear you say, thank you, it feels like we are beginning to get to where we want to be. Although we are under no illusions of the continued pressures and challenges that lie ahead, that said we do love a challenge!

There are so many proud moments for us as a team; a highlight for me personally would have to be the relationship we have developed with Es Devlin and her team. We have been working together on some projects that have taken us around the world completing technical installations and more recently a bright red interactive lion right in the middle of Trafalgar Square! 

I think for the business as a whole, we really shine when the two disciplines of digital and technical production come together. In 2018 we designed and delivered a standout project for an international cyber security company. We designed a system that communicated with their own security challenge software, which in turn would trigger visual, lighting and sound effects when challenges were successfully completed. A system which included 8x 20k projectors, over 150 intelligent lighting fixtures and a fully networked sound system, utilising the venues integrated IT network. All designed, managed and built by our team, from logistics on our own lorries to fully rendered animated graphics, we handled everything. “

Many entrepreneurs start their career as a solo entity – what inspired you to take the jump and who were your biggest support/mentors?

“In the early years I guess that was true for me too, although I had a huge amount of support from my lecturers and fellow students that were always keen for a hands on learning opportunity. 

My close friends have been massive support, Rob and Harry particularly – we all met on the ‘Movie Maker’ film sets during our summer holidays. They both continue to challenge me daily and push the boundaries of my capabilities and use of the technologies available to us. After completing his RADA training and a few years freelance in the industry, Harry now heads up our production team. Rob has been there with me since 2010 completely devoting himself to any of the crazy challenges that I have thrown at him.

More than anything else though my family, the biggest support by far. Going into business is not an easy task – it has challenged me in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. The support through the sleepless nights, assistance with accounts, book keeping, HR, van driving, selling and generally being a sounding board for my wacky ideas, I’d never have got this far without them. 

I now employ 14 people full time, they support me through the daily business challenges. It is really important, I think, that you surround yourself with a core group of people – family, friends, employees that will challenge you and push you every day.”

We always hear such incredible feedback, and have seen some amazing events first-hand, including the American Gods Premiere seen on the site… what has been your proudest business moment to date?

Gosh, there is so much more we are keen to share with you, it is an area we really must brush up on, sharing our success stories! We’ve just completed a similar project working with Jubba for Amazon actually; the premier of The Grand Tour, Season 3 at The Brewery. It can be really difficult on what we can or can’t share, we are often specifically asked not to share any details of projects, which of course is totally understandable, but a little frustrating as you can imagine. 

There are so many, but for me personally it has to be boarding the plane to Arizona with Rob as we headed out to complete an installation for Google. That moment for me, felt massive, I had created a business, that was employing such talented people and it was taking us to America to play our part on an installation for one of the largest tech companies in the world.”

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

“Truthfully, in my business experience as a young entrepreneur, learning the art of delegation, managing cash flow and the challenges associated with employing people. There aren’t really many things you can read that really help here, the support structure around you is so important.

Event industry related, working our way on to preferred supplier lists within venues. This is becoming a huge frustration of mine personally, not that I suppose it has really held us back particularly. What we have learnt is that when our client wants us in a particular venue for an event, there is always a way!

Importantly, I am learning from every experience completing the applications and working in the spaces when we are lucky enough to do so! It proves to me that we are very much capable of operating in the correct way. We just need to learn the quirks of applications!”

Everyone has a dream event, or venue… what venue do you dream about working in?

I have a desire to provide the technical production for a large stadium gig, stemming from childhood dreams I think! The business has taken a slightly different path, but one day, I’m confident that dream will come true in one capacity or another!

I also think it would be pretty cool to provide the production for an event in the Palace, I don’t believe that is unreachable either – we have completed a few events with the royals in attendance!”

We’re so excited for the future of LUX Technical… can you tell us what we can expect from you over the next couple of years??

Well, we are very proud that we will be playing our part for the UK at World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

A little closer to home you are going to see us further developing interactive technologies and more synergy between our event production and digital services. I am determined that you are going to hear more about LUX and our adventures in London. We are really proud of our relationships with the agencies and relishing the opportunities and projects that come our way, they are always becoming more adventurous!”

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