Tampa, FL (January 13, 2006)–“Katrina hit and everything went to hell.” That’s Randy Frierson, head of Concert Systems, USA, reminicing about how well his Gulfport, MS-based sound reinforcement company was doing until late August last year. Between casino shows in the area and a regular gig with KC & The Sunshine Band, Randy Frierson’s Concert Systems USA, Inc. was doing nicely. “We had just upgraded the Sunshine Band’s monitor console to the Yamaha PM5D RH digital console and had added more Nexo boxes…Alpha, Geo S and T.”
“We had really just established ourselves in Gulfport over the past two years,” said Frierson. “The casino work was growing and the tour package with KC had turned into an important part of our business mix. For KC, we were using a PM5D for stage monitors, and we were going to add a PM5D for FOH, while our Nexo Geo T rig toured with the Celtic Women for about 10 weeks. We were growing, staying ahead of the competition.” Then the casinos were wiped out. KC & the Sunshine Band took a three-month hiatus. Frierson’s home, which he had just built, was destroyed, along with the homes of some of his oldest employees. Complete devastation.
In the wake of the hurricane, Concert Systems USA has moved its headquarters to Tampa, where it had a small warehouse storing the KC gear. “I contacted Scott Gartner at Fantasma Productions [West Palm Beach] ,” said Frierson. “He’d always liked our work, so I told him that we were relocating and ready to work.” Fantasma Productions produces concert events at the Carefree Theater in West Palm and numerous venues in West Palm, Pensacola, Tampa, and Boca Raton, among others. While Tampa will become Concert Systems new headquarters, at the same time, Frierson is determined to maintain a presence in Gulfport-with warehoused systems and two full-time employees, waiting for the market to come back.
“We’d just taken on the Yamaha dealership the week that Katrina hit,” he noted. “Yamaha was the first company to contact us and ask, ‘what do you need?’ I said, ‘do you really want to hear what I need, or do you just want to hear me talk?’ They listened and sent us the gear I asked for. Every time I call, they ask what they can do for me. I really don’t think we would have been in business if it weren’t for them. I’ve never dealt with a company like that in my life. The relationship has actually changed my whole way of thinking about how I want to run this company.”
These days, the company’s inventory is taking shape once again. The PM5D RH (Concert Systems purchased two in Sept. 2005 for a total of three) and the additions to his Nexo rig not only gave Frierson the muscle to handle outdoor shows of up to 30,000, but with Geo S tangent-array cabinets, they could handle intimate corporate events as well. “The Geo S is the most incredible ballroom PA on the face of the earth,” says Frierson. “And with our large Alpha series inventory, one of the largest in the country, we’re able to hit all the venues. To my mind, Alpha still is the best point and shoot box, period.” Four Nexo NX242 digital processors are part of his inventory too. CAMCO high-specification amps power the Nexo systems.
Concert Systems USA
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.