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An L of an inventory: L&L Stage Service invests in L-Acoustics

With a substantial investment in K2, KARA and XT speakers, the company is determined to continue its exploding growth

For sound and light rental company L&L Stage Service, founded in 1992, the decision to invest in L-Acoustics gear, taken around a year ago, marked a substantial brand switch. “We have been a d&b user for many years,” explains Tom Somers, managing director of L&L Stage Service, “but the strategic choice for L-Acoustics was driven by the fact that we absolutely needed a bigger system, propelling us in another niche in the market.

“Although we’re very happy with d&b, we thought our investment had to be futureproof. When L-Acoustics revealed their K2 and promising specs, we immediately opted for this new system.”

A long-term rental deal allowed L&L Stage Service to take the K2 inventory on tour last summer. “We ordered the K2 speakers in November last year from [L-Acoustics supplier] XLR, based on written specs, but we absolutely wanted to be the first to offer the new system,” says Bart Weyts, another managing director of L&L Stage Service (pictured, left, with Kris Laermans). “The country’s first 24 K2 speakers were available in June through AED Rent – our strategy was to hire them, which allowed us to use the system until our own enclosures arrive in November,”

With leading dance events like Tomorrowland (pictured right), Summerfestival, The Qontinent and Laundry Day, festivals such as Reggae Geel and productions like the Martelaarssteden first world war remembrance tour, L&L Stage Service took the opportunity to use and market their upcoming K2 investment, with a basic inventory consisting of 24 K2s, 24 SB28s and 12 KARA enclosures.

“The challenge was to convince our system engineers of the qualities and strategic importance of switching to L-Acoustics – they were [d &b-minded and] quite sceptical,” admits Kris Laermans, L&L’s third managing director. “I’m happy to say that, after a summer of festivals, our sound crew takes the audio rental division to a higher level. We had 12 engineers following training sessions, set up by XLR with L-Acoustics trainer Paul Van Baasbank. The system uses somewhat more complex software, and the skills of the system techs is crucial. Today they’re all unanimous: the K2 is a sound investment offering a true added value.”

L&L’s marketing formula proved to be successful, adds Laermans. “We’ve had tremendous reactions from our clients, and we’re currently preparing indoor productions for the likes Ethias Arena [in Hasselt].” At press time, two full-time staffers are administering price quotations for the upcoming months. “A healthy mix of festivals, tours, corporate events and over 200 concert theatre shows results in optimal workload adding up to some 800 productions per annum, [which] allows us to employ a crew of excellent engineers. Most of them have grown along with us – human capital is crucial,” underlines Laermans, pointing to the company’s ethos: “the personal approach”.

November will see L&L Stage Service taking delivery of 24 K2 speakers, 16 SB 28 high power subs,12 XT speakers, 12 KARA units and four LA RAKs, “right on time for the start of a busy indoor season”. Laermans confirms that the plan is to gradually replace the whole d&b inventory with L-Acoustics equipment.

For XLR, appointed as certified provider of the L-Acoustics network in 2013, L&L’s commitment to the brand strengthens its position as leading standard supplier for major projects; L-Acoustics has an estimated 65 per cent marketshare in Belgium. Jan De Brucker, XLR managing director, comments: “XLR is a young company, aiming to be a major player in the pro-audio industry. We’re extremely happy with L&L Stage Service’s choice, and we are convinced that their commitment towards L-Acoustics will provide the right solution for the company’s future growth.”

For the last three years, L&L Stage Service has seen explosive growth, both in business and employment (from three to 11 full-time staffers on the payroll), but Laermans remains realistic about the future. “We want to continue investing in sound and light, but not ‘ad lib’,” he concludes.

“We’re now eyeing new markets like Wallonia (Les Ardentes and Les Francofolies festivals), and, with ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event, on 15–19 October), we have our first assignment in Holland. The K2 speakers will further embark on Scala’s European tour this fall, and we’re considering entering the Eastern European territories with an acquisition of an audio rental company in Romania. The K2 speakers are also part of our strategy there.”