My Event World - Tony Marsh

Tony Marsh, MD of event contractor Woodhouse and president of MUTA on a background in farming, travelling in the USA and battling the mud and the rain at The National Ploughing Championships.

My Event World - Tony Marsh
My Event World - Tony Marsh

I got into the events industry because I acquired the Woodhouse business.

I have worked here since June 1995.

I was attracted to this particular role because I’ve always been interested in outdoor events. My background is in agriculture, farming and horses so I felt this matched Woodhouse’s clients and events.  

Not many people know that in 1983, I spent nine months working on the oilrigs in the North Sea.

My worst experience at an event was in Ireland in 1998 when we were working for The National Ploughing Championships. The weather was atrocious and the contractors had to erect the structures in the worst rain and mud conditions we have ever encountered. However in true farmer fashion the event went ahead with wellington boots all round.

If there's one thing I've learnt it's only hire out your own equipment and resist cross hiring because you have no control over the quality of the equipment, its timely installation or the skills and competency of the subcontract crew.

The best event I've been involved in was possibly the most unusual. We were involved with the Dublin Theatre Festival back in September 2005. George’s Dock was drained so we could install a huge performance platform. The dock basin was then flooded and the performances took place in a Spiegel Tent on this amazing stage surrounded by water.

If I could do it all over again I would have channelled my investment across the business product lines differently. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and often the thing that initially seems the most pressing isn’t.

The one thing I can't stand is contractors who don’t fulfil their contracts or let clients down and clients who continually use contractors who have phoenixed.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family, playing a little golf (badly) and travelling in the USA while visiting my wife's family in Baltimore.

If money were no object I would escape the rigours of the credit squeeze that all SMEs are under.

The one event I will never miss is The Burghley Horse Trials – a great client and spectacle that marks the last phase of the Woodhouse event season and gives us a feeling of how things are going.

The next 12 months will be a positive challenge brought about by the Queens Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics; both will have a positive impact on the events industry.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be someone leading the innovation and service at any of a number of family-privately owned SMEs in the event sector, such as Alan Revell at TSG and his recent success in imaginatively penetrating new market applications with his decking system, and Adrian Dann at Danco who has consistently kept his product offerings current in this changing and challenging market place. 

If I ruled the event industry I would place a higher importance on contractor competency skills training and membership of relevant sector specific trade bodies like MUTA. I would also encourage more long-term contractor/client partnerships.

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