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Shumaker PDT brings the glam to events

by Jeff Rogers

Shumaker PDT is led by Rodney Shumaker and based in Lancaster, PA, since  2003.
Shumaker PDT is led by Rodney Shumaker and based in Lancaster, Penn., since 2003.

 

Details matter, for sure, but how far would you go for a client? Would you be willing to repeatedly dive underneath a Plexiglas pool cover, armed with a squeegee to keep the view into the water crystal clear?  
 
It's just another day at Shumaker PDT, a Lancaster, Pa., event production company. It's the kind of group deserving of EMI Supply's Customer Spotlight. 
 
The PDT stands for "Plan, Design and Transform," a code Rodney Shumaker and his logistical and technical ninjas employ daily to make magic at sites ranging from limousine garages to a railroad museum to that pool, where a project manager was making sure condensation didn't mar the clear stage supporting a grand piano during a private party.
 
"While planning and design are critical, the ability to take an ordinary event space and make it magical—make it more than the client actually thinks it can be—is what I wanted Shumaker to do," the company founder said. "I wanted our clients to understand that when they choose Shumaker, they get a visionary company they can trust.”  
 
Shumaker took an interest in theater production in high school, then worked in entertainment alongside magician John Bressler and then late jazz great Maynard Ferguson. A few years after settling back in Lancaster, he saw a chance in 2003 to apply what he had learned. 
 
"When I started my company, event production businesses did not exist in Lancaster," he said. "I started by providing rather limited audio and lighting for events that were historically managed by committee rather than by outside partners."
 
Shumaker built his business and supplier network one event at a time, starting long before there was an Internet to make connections easier. Fifteen years and change later, he employs a full-time staff of 18 experts, two part-timers and an army of folks on call when needed. 
 
A highlight of the year filled with staging events of all sizes is the Lancaster County Community Foundation's Extraordinary Give. For this, Shumaker goes all in: 
 
--It wraps one of its trucks to transform it into a mobile giving station for points throughout the county.
--It deploys signage to highlight businesses that sponsor the cause.
--It helps provide audio, video and lighting for the main event in downtown Lancaster's Marriott at Penn Square, a daunting task to carry off in a busy hotel. 
--To track the giving progress during the Extra Give Fest, Shumaker applied its lighting expertise to turn a 14-story building on the city's main square into a real-time donation thermometer. 
 
Shumaker works an intense process to create all that splendor at events. Long before showtime for any event, it will build the staging and test lighting in its demo space for a client. That gives Shumaker's clients a proof of concept and practice ramping the production up and down quickly and safely.
 
“We think the mark of a great event is when you forget we’re there,” Shumaker says. “When the audio is perfect, the lighting creates the mood, and your guests are in awe of the experience you created, then we’ve done our job perfectly.”

 
Shumaker PDT transformed a backyard pool into a piano stage for a gala.
Shumaker PDT's staff includes highly trained and experienced sound and lighting techs. 

Shumaker's Five Keys for a Really Big Show

Ruth Martin, Shumaker PDT's marketing and business development director, explained the keys for a great event:
 
Vision: We love when our clients have a vision of what they want to see. Hence our tagline, You dream it. We create it. 
Budget: having an adequate budget allows us to transform spaces into magical places. 
Design: We have a team of talented designers who will take a vision and turn it into reality or create a spectacular event for any occasion. 
Planning: Flawless events take detailed planning, excellent project management and skilled technicians onsite to make sure everything runs smoothly. We know our clients are looking for both WOW and ROI, and the difference between a good event and a great event is in the planning. Lighting design, custom audio, custom design and build - we do it all. It’s also really important for us to stay on top of trends in all areas of our industry so we can offer our clients new technology and design. 
 
And the fifth key, since it's what EMI supplies for Shumaker ...
 
Cable ties: We use them to hold up fabric columns in tents, to hang sparkly curtains or light curtains. We also have used them to hang signs and artwork on fencing.
 
We create large commercial holiday installations of wreaths, swags, and trees, and zip ties are invaluable for that.  We zip tie garlands on railings, we tie ornaments on wreaths, zip tie loops ensure lights and swags are secure and won’t fall down on anyone’s heads.  
 
We just installed a mile of drape in a gym, transforming it into a high-end gala venue.  (And I do mean over 5,000 feet of drape.) Can you imagine all the zip ties we used for that installation? And can you imagine the number of ties we cut when we took it all down when the event was over?
 
 

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