They specialize in events that are big on imagination. For TomTom, that sort of thinking outside the box requires versatility inside the box.
A great event deserves a great location, and few locations are as vibrant, picturesque, or flat-out fun as Queenstown, New Zealand’s favorite tourist destination. Masterminding many of those is event production company TomTom. But they don’t rely solely on their slice-of-heaven setting to make events dazzle; TomTom shows are relentlessly creative. “We pride ourselves on creative shows,” says managing director, Hamish Edh. “We’re big on design. We’re big on investing in product that allow us to be creative.” In fact, “big” is an apt descriptor for what TomTom does. Recently, they hosted over 6,000 employees of a Chinese company staggered over eleven back-to-back shows. Before that, they oversaw an exclusive show in a secret location for top record executives featuring none other than Iggy Azalea.
Versatile on the Inside
And with creativity comes the need for flexibility. TomTom’s many odd-shaped items require an interior system that can adjusted and rearranged to accommodate the non-standard. These “internal divisions” are fundamental to how the company operates. “For every case, we think of a couple of different ways we could use that case,” Hamish explains. “Time on-site should be a minimum, so cases need to be flexible.” For a creative company like TomTom, thinking outside the box requires versatility inside the box.
The demand for a multi-purpose internal system began with TomTom’s lighting. Hamish explains, “We needed a case that could hold twelve lights with hook clamps or eighteen lights without hook clamps.” The dividers in use at that time weren’t flexible enough for the job, so Fiasco dreamt up a solution that became the inspiration for a whole new system. “The [custom] dividers were different sizes to fit the lights with and without the clamp,” says Hamish. “This [multi-purpose approach] became our standard way of working with cases.”
Fiasco took the rough idea they’d sketched for TomTom and developed it into the present-day multi-fit divider system. Since the new system launched, TomTom has made full use of it. “Ever since we got that first case, everything has been a variation of the multi-purpose divider,” says Hamish. “It makes so much sense for us, because we do everything in the shop. Some prepped equipment can be awkward to transport. The divider enables us the flexibility.”
Uniform on the Outside
When describing about himself, Hamish reaches for words that suggest orderliness: efficiency, even anal—words you could equally apply to the Fiasco crew. With this shared obsession with being organized, TomTom and Fiasco are kindred spirits. “My first impression of Fiasco was how slick and uniform everything was. It all had a kind of uniformity to it,” recalls Hamish. “Everything fits together. I quite like that about Fiasco.”
“You’re talking about a truck-pack taking ten minutes versus it taking an hour.”
If the interiors are all about flexibility, the exteriors are all about uniformity. This is part of Fiasco’s space-maximizing “Truck Packology”—and Hamish is a big fan. He explains, “You’re talking about a truck-pack taking ten minutes versus it taking an hour because you’re juggling things, trying to make them fit.” Hamish adds, “Taking gear in and out of cases happens twice every gig. The more efficient that process is, the more time you’ve got for building the event.”
For Hamish, one of the system’s hidden benefits is the added safety. Ordinary road cases are not typically made to standardized dimensions, so they easily end up stacked in a helter-skelter muddle. But the Tetris-like way Fiasco road cases stack together is far more secure. That’s a big win for health and safety.
A lot of businesses would rather hire in auxiliary equipment and save on the initial outlay, but Hamish believes good cases are worth investing in. “My first role as managing director was to go and blow the company’s savings on kit,” jokes Hamish. Road cases are part of what he calls TomTom’s “infrastructure,” and that emphasis on infrastructure flows out of a desire for workplace efficiency. “One of Tom’s [TomTom co-founder] big things was investments that just made employees’ lives better,” says Hamish. “It’s not a waste of money. Everything is cased perfectly, because those wee efficiencies in the long run are worth more than investing just strictly in gear.”
“Wee efficiencies” are what make Fiasco the idea road cases for TomTom. As an example, Hamish cites the recent Queenstown Winter Festival, in which they used lights housed inside “Igloos,” Perspex domes that keep lights cosy in sub-zero conditions. At the last minute, they were tasked to light a village green. “We just rocked up to this building—the 800 Fiasco case fit perfectly on the elevator—we rolled out, put the light on top of the case, and we were done,” recalls Hamish.
“That’s why casing is so important. It makes life so easy.
I could’ve done 90% of that by myself.”
TomTom and Fiasco enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Fiasco’s ingenious system allows TomTom to create jaw-dropping, imaginative shows, while TomTom’s demand for efficiency spurs Fiasco on to invent new ways of making the lives of production companies easier. TomTom and Fiasco—it’s a match made in heaven…or maybe just Queenstown.
Photo credit: Kate Roberge Photography