Wilmington Event Production Businesses Put Delaware on World Stage and World on Delaware Stage
August 3, 2021-
Light Action, Applied Electronics and Staging Dimensions Operations to be Joined by Pine Box Soundstage this Fall
Scott Humphrey is probably the most active Delawarean you’ve never heard of.
If you’ve seen a large outdoor production, you’ve likely experienced his work. From Firefly, to Election Night at the Riverfront, to the stage where the Pope spoke in Philly, he and his team at Light Action and Staging Dimensions were front and center.
Now, Pine Box, currently under construction for a targeted opening in late fall 2021, is a massive soundstage facility for rehearsing concerts, film productions and large (think Broadway) performing arts events. The name Pine Box comes from a saying that Humphrey’s father used to use.
“He would talk about moving into his final home, and the one after that would be the pine box,” Humphrey said. “And it just kind of stuck. This is my final stop.”
The idea behind Pine Box came out of necessity. Outgrowing their New Castle location, where they had set up shop over 14 years ago, while also becoming more involved in corporate activations found them in need of a more dynamic location.
“Companies like Red Bull and AT&T were looking to stage events before they go out to do their promotions, so we needed a facility that could accommodate their needs,” Humphrey said. “In doing that, we realized there was an opportunity to do the same for the film industry.”
Humphrey’s companies were on point for the 2020 Presidential Campaign, from working several of Donald Trump’s rallies through running the gamut of Joe Biden’s speeches in Wilmington at The Queen and then the Democratic Convention at the Chase Center as well as the week of the election. When asked about the challenge of running an Election Night that turned into an election week, Humphrey said, “These types of events always come down to the last minute. It’s very challenging to get things prepped for an event like that with things changing, even locations changing. But we really are so used to that at this point.”
When asked “Why Wilmington?,” Humphrey was candid.
“Well, this is where I live,” he said. “I’ve been here since 1983, made my home here, and this is my community. There was no plan to be here, but this is where it grew. There are more reasons to be here than there are not.”
Between Humphrey’s three businesses — Light Action, Applied Electronics and Staging Dimensions— there are 60 collective years of experience and 130 employees, many who have been with him for over 20 years. “It was a really difficult decision to make when the pandemic hit, but I was able to do it with only 21 layoffs,” he said. Humphrey did have to reduce wages to 50% scale to make it work, but has since gotten wages back to 100%.
In an industry known for dealing with curveballs, the pandemic hit Humphrey’s businesses harder than most, peaking right at the time when their largest annual events — festivals, commencements, etc. — typically occur.
“We do 50% of our business in a four-month period, and all of that stuff got canceled,” he said. “No one realized that our industry, entertainment, had over 80% unemployment. We’re slowly coming back from that, but we won’t really see a full return until sometime next year.”
When Pine Box opens, Humphrey expects it to house at least 60 employees with certain events creating an influx of 12 to 30 workers from the local stagehand union. “Our space becomes this nucleus of people working in and out of the building,” he explained.
One of the things that makes Humphrey’s companies unique is that over 85% of their gross revenue is earned outside Delaware. “We are a model for both the state and for the city for bringing in dollars from outside the region into the state, with the people who are working here actually living in the state,” he said.
When asked what the highlight of 2020 was for Humphrey, he didn’t hesitate.
“It was turning to the people that work for the company, very talented people who could work anywhere, and explaining to them what I was able to do when the pandemic hit,” he recalled. “The fact that they said ‘yes,’ almost to a person – that loyalty was the highlight for me. I never thought I’d see it the way I saw it.”