From the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Aug. 27, 2008. See complete story here.
By Jim Masilak
One weekend last spring, representatives from Memphis-based Resource Entertainment Group simultaneously worked a NASCAR post-race event in Millington, a crawfish festival at a Mississippi casino, and a concert in Dublin, Ireland.
Though such an ambitious undertaking would stretch any six-person outfit to its organizational limits, it also underlined the diversity of REG's offerings and abilities.
"We had partners on two different continents at three different assignments," said Howard Stovall, one of the company's founding partners and the incoming chairman of the International Association of Corporate Entertainment Producers.
And that's not counting the 30 or so other events around the country that REG helped plan and execute that weekend.
Formed in 2004 when Paul Chandler and Stovall merged National Talent LLC with Rollin Riggs' Mustang Productions, REG expanded soon thereafter when Mike Brocato of Heartbeat Productions joined the fold.
"Instead of being competitors," Brocato said, "we thought joining forces would make it better."
As it prepares to move from its modest basement offices in the Cadre Building into an adjacent 2,200-square foot street-level space on Monroe, REG is now established as perhaps the city's premier entertainment services company.
However, as Chandler says, "There's a lot more that we do than match an entertainer with a client."
Among other things, REG acts as a booking agency for corporate and private events, produces live entertainment, provides venue management consulting and manages a number of local and regional acts.
"We're involved in everything from the front of the stage to the back," Stovall said.
By the end of this year alone, REG expects it will have booked 1,300 regional bands and 65 national touring entertainers. Among its clients are such varied acts as the Beale Street Flippers, rockabilly trio The Dempseys and the "Queen of Beale Street," Ruby Wilson.
While The Dempseys had a longstanding relationship with Riggs prior to REG's formation, drummer Ron Perrone Jr. said the band's private and corporate engagements increased immediately upon REG's launch.
It was REG that helped The Dempseys land a gig in front of President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi when they visited Memphis two years ago.
"They had a lot of good ideas and they've been able to put most of them into effect," Perrone said. "How can you complain about that?"
Matching entertainers to corporate and private clients has been a major part of REG's business.
Last year, REG organized a James Taylor concert in Indio, Calif., in conjunction with a Hilton Hotels owners' conference. It has also booked bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire for private birthday parties and weddings.
Since 2005, REG has provided talent for and produced the summer rooftop parties at The Peabody and it also handles postrace concerts for Memphis Motorsports Park at its twice-yearly NASCAR events.
"They've done a fantastic job for us," said Jason Rittenberry, MMP's vice president and general manager. "Our staff is focused on putting on a NASCAR race on those days, and we get 40,000 fans for a NASCAR race. We can't really do both on our own."
REG scored a major coup recently when it landed a programming and production deal for events at the Pearl River Resort in Choctaw, Miss.
In addition to lining up entertainment at the resort's restaurants, lounges and convention center, plus managing special events such as the crawfish festival, REG has gotten practice working with a sovereign nation. (Pearl River Resort is owned and operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.)
REG has a presence in Nantucket, Mass., and it hopes to open more offices around the Southeast down the road. For now, though, it is focused on its end-of-the-month move next door, which promises even greater visibility in the local market.
"It's nice that our company is gaining a national profile," Stovall said, "but we are and always will be committed to the Memphis community."