Photonics, business has become more human
Nie gaan, dá ga nie! That's the spirit of Titeca, with which our experts enter into daily dialogue and co-enterprise with the customer-entrepreneur. We unburden you and offer tailor-made solutions to all kinds of challenging issues.
Proud of the many customers who did not give up, we let them have their say in our section 'Entrepreneurial Heroes of Titeca' because even when things get tough, we should above all 'do and die'!
How are you doing?
We asked customer-entrepreneur Pieter Lambert, business manager of Photonics from Zottegem, specializing in the rental of audiovisual equipment.
"We are busy 24/7, in fact working much more than ever before, while our normal activities for 90% have fallen silent. Photonics was originally founded in 2004 as a video supplier. We rent out mobile LED screens and associated sound and light equipment. In addition, we also operate Sotto's , an event hall in Zottegem. So our activity is completely focused on large events."
What effect did the lockdown have on your activity?
"Up to 13.03 we were looking forward to a nicely filled agenda, with the Tour of Flanders and other cycling classics, numerous summer festivals, live concerts, Waregem Koerse, jumpings, fairs, etc. In addition, the EK football was on the program, a huge project, for which Photonics would be the supplier of video screens at some 150 different events in 32 cities and towns.
With the arrival of corona, suddenly all scheduled events were abolished or postponed until "further notice. Sotto's also had to close to the public. Within two weeks, our order book was down to zero, with no prospect of income for the rest of the year."
Undergo or undertake?
"Initially we spent a lot of time thinking about how to proceed. Brainstorming with employees, customers and suppliers about all kinds of ideas to somehow manage to raise some money.
Gradually, the plan grew to use a piece of unused tarmac on the Sotto's site and create an open-air pop-up bar there. With all our might, we set to work. Thanks in part to the help of friends and supporters, 'SOTTO's the summer bar' in 9 weeks, became a reality! In mid-June, we opened to the public. And with success."
If it had not been for corona, we would never have come up with the idea that Sotto's, also could be rented as an outdoor venue. In the meantime, we have already received several requests from companies wanting to rent our outdoor terrace for smaller-scale parties.
Do you see opportunities anytime, anywhere?
"Germany, which was the 1st country in Europe, to come up with the idea of open air cinemas , called on Photonics to rent our largest mobile video screen (100 M2). This gave me an idea for Belgium. The festival ground at Rock Zottegem seemed to me to be the perfect place for a drive-in cinema and/or concert. .
Supported by the municipality, I went to Cabinet Wilmès and Jambon, where we initially came up against a resolute 'no-go'. It was the start of many negotiations, not losing courage and continuing to look for solutions to make the drive-in concept also a reality in our country.
The relaxation in measures follows each other in such quick succession that we constantly have to adjust our plans. In the meantime, we hope that we will soon be able to offer live performances according to a 'walk-in' concept, where spectators sit in bubbles of 15 around a table, separated from the rest."
What puts a smile on your face?
"In the event industry, we are all in the same boat. The solidarity is great. Conversations with clients and suppliers are no longer so much about the lowest price and the shortest delivery period. We engage in dialogue with each otherfrom the heart to get back on top together."
Your tip for a fellow entrepreneur?
Don't wait for corona to pass! Personally, I assume that as long as there is no vaccine, mass events will not happen again. Also for smaller dance events, the solution is not yet in sight.
So it is essential to think, how with your accumulated knowledge and experience, you can reposition your company in the market. This requires time, effort and energy, often for a much lower return, but it is the only way to survive this uncertain period!