I think what we have done is develop what I call a broad and deep relationship with exhibition organisers and worked very hard on maintaining those relationships and being very responsive to them,” said John Robson, Aztec MD.
Maintaining a successful business doesn’t seem so difficult when you put it like that, does it?But for Aztec, which began in January 2006 as a management buyout of the exhibitions division of Aztec Communications Group, but can trace its history back to the prehistoric days of video services back in 1989, it really is that simple.
The Mitcham-based firm has secured long-term contracts with some of the biggest organisers in the exhibition industry. It has worked with Reed since 2000, Centaur since 2002 and Media 10 since 2008. In addition it works with Brintex, Centaur, easyFairs and Fresh Montgomery.
This September, Aztec was selected as official AV contractor for more than twenty exhibitions and conferences, 25 corporate events, and completed more than 1,000 jobs. While in October, Aztec Event Services announced its best ever month of business, claiming a 35 per cent increase in revenue over its previous record, set last year in September 2012.
“We always keep looking for something different or new. We are not the only company out there, but we have done better than most. Our ethos is that we talk about success a lot,” Aztec MD John Robson told EN.
The firm triumphed this year at the Exhibition News Awards winning Best Employer.
“I think the reason we won was that in 2012 we did a lot of work with an external consultancy to bring the Toyota business efficiency system as showcased at the ESSA G50+Conference held at the Ricoh Arena last year,” said Robson, a former Event Services and Suppliers Association (ESSA) chair. “The entire ops team was trained in business improvement techniques. The system makes you look at what you do if you were a manufacturer. For example, we used to prepare plasmas for individual jobs. Now we have a production line where we have them all tested together in a single area. We asked the staff to redefine how it all works. As a result some of the staff have achieved a Level 2 NVQ diploma in business improvement techniques.”
Aztec has worked across some of the leading shows in the exhibition market in the last few months. These include the Ideal Home Show, The Cake & Bake Show, Infosecurity, the London Book Fair, Grand Designs, the London International Wine and Spirits Fair, FESPA, Marketing Week Live, Civil Service Live, DSEI, Offshore Europe, 100% Design and the Halal Food Festival.
Coming up it has IP EXPO, World Travel Market, Ideal Home Christmas and Clothes Show Live.
At Offshore Europe at the Aberdeen Conference and Exhibition Centre, the firm used its new digital signage solution which gave programme info about the seminar programme and branding for key sponsors, and its silent seminar system, billed as a useful tool against noise pollution in a particularly noisy seminar area.
But it’s not all exhibition work. Aztec recently worked at the fringe events for the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow.
“We worked on the fringe events which was very hard work,” said Robson. A lot of the organisers were very demanding plus we also had to work very quickly between sessions.”
Aztec was founded in January 2006 as a management buyout of the exhibitions division of Aztec Communications Group (ACG). The history of ACG dates back to August 1989 as Aztec Video based in Blackfriars Rd, London. Since that time the company’s location, name and services have changed.
Initially the company offered only video duplication services but audio-visual equipment hire was quickly added in January 1990.
Over the years these services evolved. Video duplication became a highly respected broadcast quality transfers operation based in the West End while “hire” grew into an event staging company. The third strand of business began in 1996 - Computer Rentals.
Since 1999 the company was called Aztec Communications Group and was made up of three parts: Aztec Computer Rentals and Aztec Events, based in London, SE1 and Aztec Facilities, based in London, W1.
Aztec Computer Rentals changed its name to Aztec Communications in 2001 to better reflect the nature of its work which was primarily audiovisual and IT hire to the exhibition sector.
In February 2005, ACG was sold to another audiovisual company and this facilitated a management buyout of Aztec Communications and the formation of Aztec Exhibition Services in 2006. Aztec Exhibition Services changed its name to Aztec Event Services in February 2007 to better reflect the nature of its work.
Since then, Aztec has looked to specialise in providing technical, IT and audiovisual solutions to the live events industry. It is official AV supplier to more than 200 exhibitions a year across Europe.The firm moved to Mitcham in south-west London in 2007. As well as supporting local events for the Merton Chamber of Commerce, the firm wanted to give something back to the community back and in 2011 the firm started an apprenticeship scheme with young people from the area and currently two of those are full-time employees (see box below).
“People who don’t fit in with our culture of teamwork tend to self-select themselves out of the company. Even if someone is asked to something which isn’t their defined job, we would ask them to do it because it helps the company as a whole.
“We are also very open with our numbers. Anyone can access that information. “People say to me that people can steal that information but then I would say ‘well what can people do with it?”
It is this open relationship both with staff and suppliers that is set to amplify Aztec’s prominent position in the exhibition market.
This was first published in the November issue of EN. Any comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org