A Grand Day Out

So here I am, at Stansted Airport, waiting for my train home. It’s been an amazing few days, and I still can’t believe this is all happening to me!

My journey started on Sunday afternoon with the journey down to London, where we stayed overnight to catch our early flight on Monday morning. We had a few drinks and chatted with Ian, the sales manager of ROBE UK, and then we headed off to bed.

The next day we flew out and met Josef’s PA, who drove us to the main offices and factory complex. Josef is the managing director of ROBE UK, and I reckon he’s the standard by which all total dudes are measured by. I’ve never met an MD as cool, friendly and approachable as he is. We looked around the factory and offices, and it struck me how quiet the whole place was. There’s no big horrible noisy machinery, there’s no shouting, no loud music, no running, everyone is sat at their desk quietly, doing their job. Ian told me that if something goes wrong, they just raise their hand and it’s dealt with quickly and quietly. For a moving light factory, it felt really relaxed.

After this, we headed on over to the warehouse where I was surprised by the lack of stock. Ian explained that almost every light made by ROBE is made to order. They’re made in small batches (typically no more than 24), and they’re shipped straight away. A small amount of stock is held for urgent orders, but if I was to order 6 lights, they’d all be made on the same day by the same people with consecutive serial numbers. There’s a level of attention to detail in the manufacturing process which is astonishing. The entire process is manual. All the major parts are made and assembled by hand, and the bulk of the parts are manufactured on the factory site, with the exception of the PCBs and motors/fans. All the lights are checked and calibrated extensively, and all the way through the assembly process, there is an immense pride in the work these guys were doing. The factory keeps a record of which employees touch which lights, so everyone who helps to make a light, puts their name on it, so it’s gotta be good.

We then headed back to the hotel, and took full advantage of the wellness centre. We spent 2 hours swimming in a saltwater pool, relaxing in a jacuzzi, sweating in a sauna and freezing in an arctic plunge pool. It was incredibly relaxing, and so nice to unwind and talk with the other guys and Ian about stuff, preparing for PLASA, finding out more about ROBE and enjoying the hotel. After our evening meal, Ian insisted we tried the local moonshine, slivovitz. It’s clear plum brandy, and it was like a flying sidekick to the face, with a plum aftertaste. Good for killing braincells.

The next day, we spent the morning in ROBE’s demo room. We learned about the features of their latest lights, and found out more about the internal workings of the fixtures. We then got to play with them on different desks, there was an avo tiger touch, 2 jands vistas, and an ETC ion. It was a great learning experience, I had so much fun and really could have spent a lot longer in there!

From there, we went directly to the airport, where we flew home and had one final meal together, leaving me here, waiting for my train, so I thought I’d tell you a little about my trip to the Czech Republic :) I cannot wait for PLASA, this has been an immense opportunity, and I’m really hoping its the start of something amazing <3