Hearn Power Station
McNabb Roick Events for Luminato Festival
Lighting up the Night
With over 25 years in the event and hospitality industry, McNabb Roick Events is one of the most well-known event management companies in Canada. They are involved in planning and organizing prestigious events, both locally and abroad. The most recent of which include the Luminato Festival’s opening night party – The Big Bang Bash – held at the Hearn Power Station. We sat down with owner Jeffry Roick and event planning associate, Suzanne Turnbull, to get the scoop on their relationship with Westbury National, and the work that was put into making the Luminato party an illuminating success.
When it comes to event and show services, Westbury National is the perfect complement to an event management company like McNabb Roick. The relationship between the two companies spans back almost 30 years, when Roick met Rob Sandolowich, a partner at Westbury National. "In this business it’s all about the relationships you make," says Roick. "As event planners, it makes our job easier to have a supplier that knows what you want before you even tell them," he continues, describing the relationship they’ve developed with Westbury over the years. Associate Suzanne Turnbull adds, "Especially with lighting – lighting is such a hard thing to convey. Trying to describe what you want to somebody is a difficult task – but when we work with Westbury we know that we’re going to get exactly what we want – a properly executed design, the initial way we designed it. They save us an immense amount of time on projects."
When it came to choosing a supplier for the Luminato project, an event that was heavily relied on lighting, Westbury National, was an obvious choice. "I could tell that Westbury was hungry for this project," says Turnbull, "they were really excited to get in there and showcase their lighting and design abilities."
Westbury played a role in both planning and execution, both of which presented challenges as soon as the project kicked-off. First off, the Hearn Power Station was never meant for large public assembly. The Westbury team and McNabb Roick had to attend meetings with various departments of the city to secure permits that would allow them to accommodate the 900+ guest list for the Luminato’s opening night. Both companies worked together to ensure that their plans included all the safety and security essentials – from fire exits to egress aisles, main and backup power, emergency lighting and safety railings. "It was based on all the information that Westbury and our team provided that we ended up getting the occupancy- our plans even impressed the fire chief!" Turnbull explains. "The collection of our two companies was instrumental in being able to secure the permit to hold the event at The Hearn."
"After securing the venue, we were faced with yet another challenge", says Westbury partner, Rob Sandolowich. The event was much larger than last year’s opening night, as this year there would be a dinner for approximately 440 people, followed by an after-party for an additional 500 guests in the same space. The layout of the party had to be flexible to accommodate both pieces of the evening; which was no easy feat, considering the venue had no running water or electricity. Before even being able to install the AV equipment, Sandolowich and his Westbury team had to map out the placement of enough portable generators and distribution equipment to power the entire venue, and 1/3 kilometer driveway.
With planning out of the way, Westbury was free to begin execution. However, this did not come without its own set of challenges. Originally, the venue had 4 inches of ice covering the floor, so both teams were uncertain of the condition of the floor underneath. Once the ice thawed, there was an approximate 8 inch difference between the lowest and highest point in the floor. There were areas that could easily be salvaged by filling in with concrete, but there were other areas that were just too damaged.
Roick likens the situation to the calamites that frequently hinder home renovations - "the more we got into it, the more we realized we couldn’t take the floor down. So we ended up having to build the floor up." After assessing the situation, Sandolowich and the Westbury team decided the best course of action was to put in a new floor. "Acting quickly, we provided a quote for the floor within the hour, and within 7 hours had the floor fully installed," explains Sandolowich. In event planning this quick turn-around time is imperative to keeping everything on track.
With all obstacles overcome in planning and execution, the event was an incredible success. There were over 900 guests and according to both Roick and Turnbull, the positive feedback has been overwhelming. Everyone in attendance was in awe of the venue itself and Westbury’s lighting abilities - what was once a barren power station was turned into an extravagant party venue. The event’s success was not only a testament to Westbury’s technical abilities, but to the partnership between the two companies. "From the get-go, everyone was on the same page, wanting to push the envelope despite the inevitable challenges the project would present," Turnbull describes. "We’re always happy to work with Westbury," Roick continues, "they always continue to exceed expectations."
Despite all of the preliminary challenges, both the McNabb Roick and Westbury teams worked together to ensure the event ran smoothly. Roick credits a large part of the event’s success to Westbury’s ability to create spectacular lighting designs using cutting-edge technology, and to think quickly under pressure when plans suddenly change - the combination of which helped make the Luminato Big Bang Bash a truly illuminating evening.