Andrew Pygott who started out helping his parents at amateur shows when he was just five now runs a company that designs the lighting for Elton John.
Innovation Productions, which has just expanded and moved to Barnsley, design and provide equipment for Elton’s private events and one-off shows, including the recent concert at Leeds Arena.
The company specialises in event management and supplying entertainment technology, including lighting, audio, video and stage equipment.
Set up in 2000, the company has also built stages and supplied lighting, sound and video for shows by Leona Lewis, Status Quo, Katherine Jenkins and McFly.
Away from the big stars, Innovation Productions provides technical support for drama groups, theatres, schools, colleges, corporate events and festivals; providing equipment sales, hire and installation.
The company grew out of Andrew’s involvement with shows his mum, Elaine, performed in around Huddersfield when he was a child. His dad, Eric, was an electrical manager and so helped out on the technical side.
Andrew said: “I used to go to lots of shows with my mum from a very young age. When I was about five I started helping putting props on stage and nailing carpets down. When I got to eight I was allowed to plug things in.
“I had no idea then what it would all lead to. But I was always fascinated by the technical side of theatre.”
Andrew gradually bought his own equipment which he rented out to amateur dramatics groups and to people organising events. Initially his dad helped him out, particularly when Andrew was too young to drive.
He then worked as a technical manager for a number of cruise liner companies, including Cunard, and managed the entertainment technology and inaugural events of the world largest ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, before returning home to concentrate on Innovation Productions.
Innovation Productions recent expansion has been helped by business support programme Enterprising Barnsley, which is delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and supports businesses with growth potential.
The company’s move from premises at Skelmanthorpe in West Yorkshire to a warehouse in Barugh Green, Barnsley, was assisted by a grant from the Business Growth Programme managed by Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, which was secured with help from Enterprising Barnsley.
Business coaches from Enterprising Barnsley have also helped Innovation Productions with personnel procedures, recruitment and IT projects. The coaches are still supporting the company and looking at ways of cataloguing the company’s massive collection of equipment.
Shaun Higginbottom, of Enterprising Barnsley, said: “It’s really exciting to think that a Barnsley company is involved in such high profile events and that we have such expertise here in the town. And the bigger premises mean that they will be able to take on more clients and employ more people.”
Since the move to the 6,500 sq ft warehouse Innovation Productions has recruited five more staff, bringing the total to nine, and are advertising for more. Innovation Productions also work with dozens of freelancers around the world.
Andrew said: “We want to keep on working on high profile events and installations, but moving to bigger premises means we can also work with more small and medium scale clients, as we want to continue to support the roots from which we came.”
And, despite being in his 80s Andrew’s dad still keeps an interest in the business.
“He pops in regularly to sort out cables and help out in the workshop. It really still is a family firm, but with big horizons,” said Andrew.