Stephen Henric's enthusiasm for what's possible is infectious. His passion for client-service and his drive to innovate and wave the PRG flag in the event production business is unparalleled. We had a chance to talk with Stephen, to become immersed in his thought process, and quickly realized Stephen's perspective for the fusion of client vision, production technology innovation, and business relationship management is igniting an evolution in the corporate event production industry.
PRG: How did your career in production get started?
HENRIC: I suppose my career really started in 2006 working as a production coordinator for a boutique event production group in Miami. We serviced everything from live music events to theatrical performances.
After a couple of years in the "Industry", I realized that I really had a passion for the business and because my boss at the time spoke of Full Sail as academia's holy grail for live production, I decided to check out the school. After being toured around the facilities and meeting the staff, I was certain that it was where I needed to be. I enrolled in Full Sail University's Show Production program and later graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Business. While in school I stayed busy with providing freelance project management for the development of some entertainment ventures in South and Central Florida.
After graduating, I was brought onboard by Swank Audio Visuals to support their production sales initiatives in New Orleans. After the Swank AV and PSAV merger, making PSAV the world's largest in-house event technology provider, I was relocated to Orlando, Florida to spearhead production sales for one of the company's premier properties. Shortly after moving to Orlando, I also became one of the sales trainers in PSAV's newly founded Global Learning Department.
In 2015 I joined the PRG team as a Director of Global Accounts, with a focus on business development and strategic accounts. After a year or so, the Business Development Team was founded, which is when I transitioned to my current position as a Director of Business Development. In my role, my primary focus is on identifying and developing new strategic partnerships and business relationships. I now also lead our Sports Vertical Market in North America.
Joining PRG has truly been a bit of a dream-job for me, as it brings together two things that I am really passionate about…(1) helping people/businesses solve complex problems and (2) providing entertainment experiences. It's an incredibly special thing to not only have the privilege of telling the PRG story, but also the opportunity to contribute to its future success.
Over the course of my career I have been fortunate enough to support events for major brands and notable clients in the Sports/Entertainment, Technology, Food/Beverage, Financial Services and Fashion/Retail markets, as well as partnered with a number of creative agencies and national associations.
PRG: What inspired you to get involved in production?
HENRIC: It's hard to identify a single moment, but I guess it sort of started at a really young age. My mom raised us in a house full of music and the arts were a big part of our family. My mom encouraged me to learn to play music, specifically the piano…which honestly contradicted everything I thought was cool at the time. I was much more interested in rock and roll and learning to play it on a guitar. In hind sight, it's all about the fundamentals...piano is a much better place to start. Growing up in Miami's skate scene which was a huge supporter of hip-hop and the counter culture movement it gave life to, I found myself becoming increasing interested in anything that had a solid beat and would stay in the pocket. More and more I found myself hanging out at the record store just down the street from my house, trying to learn as much as I possibly could.
I naturally, ended up getting into DJ-ing when I was 12 years old and it's there, that I believe I really developed an appreciation for the technical side of that business. I started with a couple of decks, a mixer, a home entertainment receiver and some speakers from the local pawn shop…and I was off to the races. After blowing up, what I thought was a suitable amplifier, spinning music for a house party and because my mom saw my level of interest, she ended up investing in what was becoming a little business for me. Before I knew it, I was playing music at our middle school pep-rallies during the week and house parties on the weekends. It all hit me that the combination of technology and music was "making people feel something," and that ignited my passion.
PRG: You did a stint working in your family business, how was that?
HENRIC: My father is a general contractor in south Florida. He grew his business from humble beginnings to taking on some pretty formidable projects. While working for the family business was rewarding, it was a tad less creative than what I was looking for, or I guess, what I really needed. My father used to tell me, that to be an effective leader you need to learn from the ground up, which is a philosophy that I very much live by today. Though it's okay to not know everything, you simply can't ask someone to do something that you won't do. So, I've made it a point throughout my career to really listen to my clients and my colleagues, to learn and do as much as possible. This approach provides you with unique insights that others may not have, which enables you to contribute a great deal to nearly every aspect of every project.
PRG: Why did you make the transition from project management to sales?
HENRIC: I needed to find an opportunity that would allow me to engage with clients and my team in every aspect of every project. I like the challenge of working with clients and tech teams to develop ideas and then solutions to do the things that others have not done, or perhaps, have not yet developed the knowledge to do. It truly excites me, and my clients, to bring a new vision to reality.
PRG: In your biography, you talk about your focus on identifying and developing new strategic partnerships. What does that mean?
HENRIC: It's a two-prong thing, really. When I first joined PRG, I spent the majority of my time developing relationships with the agency world and pursuing new business opportunities with agency partners. For me it was less about pushing a sale and more about listening and understanding what clients need, understanding their goals and vision, and then determining what PRG can do to help them get there. Another aspect of this process - and one of PRG's key differentiators - is bringing opportunities back to our partners which is ultimately a win-win for all parties and leads to a higher level of success for the client's event.
PRG: What is responsible revenue growth?
HENRIC: It's the ability to understand the needs of a client, to consult and not just sell, to innovate, and to make the best production possible. It's not about making a buck. It's about establishing a long-term relationship, and sometimes that means taking baby-steps and not just selling everything in the arsenal of technology toys.
PRG: What do you do in the pro sports space?
HENRIC: PRG has a long history of being a go to resource for producers and creatives on the world biggest stages…frankly, it has defined us and help to create a production pedigree that is unrivaled. That said, we recognize not just the opportunity, but the benefits that could come to the market by having a resource like PRG at the table during the ideation process for all events and environments in the space, not just the prime-time shows. We can provide so much more than equipment and crew to get a job done, as PRG provides a level of expertise and access to our clients and partners, that is unparalleled by any other production services partner in the market place. Our goal is to always get involved at the early stages of a project by establishing a collaborate dialogue with the leagues, sponsors, agencies, and everyone in between…with the goal of taking what everyone is talking about and helping to make it a reality. We take an unapologetically intrepid approach to doing what has never been done before, and that's incredibly exciting.
PRG: What's the most satisfying project you have ever done, and why?
HERNIC: So, there are a number of projects that we are working on that would absolutely own that "most satisfying project" category for me, but unfortunately, they are not in a place that we can talk about them quite yet. That said and in general, I would have to say that the most satisfying projects are those where we are able to create an environment that allows attendees to lose themselves in an experience driven by entertainment and technology. When we help to create an environment for attendees and fans that allows them to disconnect from everyday life and can engage them at a sensory level…we have done our job.
PRG: What's next for biz dev in event production at PRG?
HENRIC: We conquer the world! Just kidding, sort of. For me, accomplishing what we are setting out to do with a number of internationally recognized sporting brands. I think there's going to be a seat at the table for us in providing strategic counsel beyond being a technical services and equipment provider. Our goal is to be part of the collaborative dialogue at the point of inception. We can help develop ideas that drive revenue, we can help brands activate their sponsorships, we can assist agencies and marketers achieve and surpass their creative goals.