This day and age it is not enough to just want to start a business. You have to want to do something with that business. When Angel Cantu and two other partners decided to open Accurate Staging in 2001, they saw an evergreen approach to their business.
The company is in charge of creating stages and sets for different concerts and television shows. Most recently they have taken on creating sets for “The Biggest Loser” such as stages where they handle the judging and “background sets” that to the audience, must look like it has been there forever.
“We built a gym for them and the set and that’s usually a long-term agreement–about six to eight weeks every year. So that ends up being most of the season,” he said. “Then when the season is over, we go out and take it down.”
They use the same method for different artists and groups that Accurate Staging creates stages for concerts. Recently, the company created the entire performance stage for Linkin Park while they were out on tour. The agreement was about six to 12 weeks, where the band buys about 40 percent custom-made parts and rent out 60 percent of the rest of the gear.
“We have a variety of groups that come to us,” he explained. “We have people like Linkin Park that need our stages for about four to six months, then stop for a few months because they go back to the record studio to create more music. With the older bands, like U2, they need stages year-long because they are always performing at different venues with the same material; they don’t require any breaks.”
The business has run for almost 14 years, and Cantu stated that for the first seven years of its existence, business was pretty steady–increasing at a rate of five percent every year. When it the recession came about and the economic turmoil that faced most small (and young) businesses, Accurate Staging was not hit as strongly as others.
“The things about this business is that it’s wrapped up with entertainment. There’s less pressure on this industry because it’s not too hard on people’s pockets and people are always looking to get entertained. That fact is always consistent no matter what the conditions of the economy may be.”
In fact, Cantu shared that most of the obstacles facing the business were more of internal problems than external.
The company faced a hard time a few years ago when he was forced to buy out one of the original partners due to embezzlement problems.
“It wasn’t something that we wanted to do, but trust is a big part of the company. It’s probably the most important thing.”
Being seen as a “family business,” Cantu recognizes that 50 percent of the business involves dealing with the employees.
“One of the key things about us is that we don’t lay off people. We like to have a consistent amount of employees working for us all throughout the year. Because of that, I’ve come to realize that I have to deal my employees the way a parent deals with multiple children: each one has different personalities and different expectations when it comes to what they do,” he explained. “At times their expectations are unrealistic or their attitudes need adjusting so it’s a process that requires a large amount of effort from me.”
Wherever Cantu puts his effort, it is working for him. And coming into the new year, Cantu has high hopes for his company.
“We’re actually hoping to see a 10 to 15% growth within our business because there seems to be this willingness from people to spend more money on tours and concerts,” he said, “and we’re happy to be able to entertain people and make them feel good.”