By Rosine Alleva and Jose Oliveira, Journalist-Photographers, Rock At Night France, Switzerland.
Interview Raymond SCHWEITZER (STACCO CEO)
Music and Wine Festival Colmar – August 2017
STACCO is an Alsatian company (Eastern France) specialized in the design and the stage production. Before reaching a historic contract this summer, the company had to face American giants of the business. The European leader accompanied Céline Dion on tour in France!!! A big challenge, a real pride for STACCO who already experienced a lot of success. The Eurockeennes of Belfort, or the Eiffel Tower transformed into sliding ramp for Taïg Khris, the installations for the COP 21, Johnny Holliday stages…. STACCO is very competitive, keeps growing and has big new projects.
We already devoted some interviews in ROCK AT NIGHT to the biggest concerts Promoters as we love to broaden our horizons towards all the trades that revolve around the Rock Business! And the”STACCO success Story” aroused our interest as well! We wanted to know more about it. Always present for the Music and Wine Festival stages in Colmar, RAYMOND SCHWEITZER, STACCO CEO, kindly took some of his time for this interview.
RAN– Raymond, can you elucidate us on the beginning of this machine specialized in design and stage production, which is STACCO?
RS– It’s a long story, we’ll make it short because it’s from 1982, so 35 years ago. It’s huge! And it just started from people of the entertainment business who wanted to deepen and work in the profession. Initially, we were all “roadies”, like all the students who like to earn some money. We started working in concerts, unloading and loading trucks, and finally, we forged a good team and when it was found that itinerant people like good teams, they started to trust us . And we made a conclusion that transports us to an Anglo-Saxon logic, it’s that all the tours were equipped with material that came from abroad! Especially the USA and England. There was no French company that could provide this service!
We, the youngsters, thought why not? Really proud at 22, 23 years old, we decided to tackle this market. Strangely we were very lucky because at the time the biggest French turner KCP, Albert KOSKY, whom you knew perfectly, trusted us and said to us: “Well, guys, make us a stage for … AC / DC !!!! What was fabulous for a very small company and we left in 84 with our little stage and we did the AC / DC French tour!
RAN– Excellent! A real fairy tale !! What does STACCO mean?
RS– We are going to say Stage Compagnie but it’s rather a name that sounds good between friends. We said, “How are we going to be called? It was a name that sounded good but then we found another reason. Very surprisingly the # 1 world, which is Stage Co had started in ’81 and we said
«damn »! They are Belgian and they bought many companies around the world.
RAN– How many people work in this company?
RS– At the moment, STACCO has become a group of companies. To be exact, 10 companies. You are kind enough to interview me today at the Music and Wine Festival where we have 4 companies actually fully working. About fifty people are in the administrative center and on the site, in our factory we still have eighty people, without of course counting all those who work for us as subcontractors. We have a lot of casual entertainment workers and temporary staff. For the months of June and July we make 15 shows per day representing about 600 salaries !!
RAN – What were your first French customers in the show business?
RS– The first turners, you know the names, Jean Claude CAMUS, Gilbert COULIER … they trusted us for the JOHNNY HALLIDAY tour and STACCO and JOHNNY is a closely related story! At the moment we are still working for him! Although he recently changed producer but he doesn’t change STACCO !!! And the confidence he gives us makes us very proud. He knows he can count on a serious company that does a good job. We always lend an attentive ear to his projects.
Even those who forced us to exceed ourselves!!! It is undoubtedly the artist who made STACCO evolve, because we answered all his requests and especially the historical “50 years” at the « Parc des Princes ». Colossal financial resources! If I can quote the most beautiful shows (on the visual side) we were able to do, I will name MICHAEL JACKSON, ROLLING STONES and HALLIDAY!
RAN – Champagne !!!! (Laughs)… In 2015, PAUL MCCARTNEY engaged your services! I imagine it was like a dream come true! How did you get this deal?
RS – I love your conclusion: a dream that has come true! Initially, I don’t want to say a nightmare but an American requirement!! This means be extremely precise!!! When we get to this kind of “world show”, we are the “little thumbs”…we can be the leader in France, the 2nd European, be as big as STACCO, when we do business with MCCARTNEY, we are not entitled to any error and you have to answer almost “yes” to everything! And this is why the stage we provided him corresponded well to all his technical requirements and the fact that we practically followed the MCCARTNEY technical desiresata, they loved the “little Frenchies” who took up the challenge with a lot of pride!
RAN– And this year, the cherry on the cake, you won the favors of the DIVA CELINE DION! It must have been a huge challenge, I suppose. Can you describe the details of this beautiful operation? We assume it was a big market …
RS– It was indeed a very big market. Both technically and financially. And the financial side is quite pleasant nowadays. The impact of the seriousness of the services we provided to these two artists (Halliday and McCartney), certainly contributed to this request of Céline Dion’s Staff. It is obvious that McCartney has become our International Business Card. It is necessary to know that Céline Dion usually turns with her staff and her techniques. Her management does not change her habits. But they wondered “Why do we always see these Frenchies of STACCO in the biggest Festivals?
We see them all over the place. They did RAMMSTEIN, McCARTNEY … They have a gigantic stage and have the wind in their sails. “And so, they questioned STACCO, asking if we were ready to take up this challenge. Initially we needed a careful reflection because it was not a simple concert but it meant to build, mount and dismantle a gigantic stage for her Festivals tour! And we started a year ahead, communicating with their national turner, Jackie LOMBARD and Alain SEBAOUM of INTER CONCERTS, and you know Jackie as well as me since 40 years, and her demand is based on the trust placed in her providers. It was technically less heavy than with McCARTNEY but much more accurate. This means that she must find the same, with millimeter accuracy, in Marseille, Nice, Lille…This high-precision of the show teaches us many things, but here again it was all the time through video calls, conferences calls, in Canada and in France, it was done at night or in crazy moments. It was fabulous and we received the confirmation at the end of the year. And we popped Champagne! It was well deserved and very important to us!
RAN – We read in the press that it costs them more or less two hundred thousand euros per concert. It is enormous !
RS– This is enormous compared to productions that are used to make big French or neighboring productions . A big stage for rent is between hundred and hundred and fifty thousand euros. But here, she wished turnkey project with our participation on the esthetic side.
RAN– And this brings us back to the famous “GIGA ROOF”, one of the biggest stages in the world. What are its characteristics?
RS– The PINK FLOYD have very big scenes but here it’s complete to itself. The roof measures 62 meters on 20 meters, it’s huge, it takes 60 tons … I think with our stage we easily cover this Expo Park here in Colmar. It would be higher than the Football Stade of «la Meinau», which represents 10 floors. I love the success of others but we currently own the biggest stages for stadium tours. And it’s actually called the GIGA ROOF !!
RAN – I think it takes enormous logistics to mount this “metallic beast,” right?
RS– Of course people are very important too! For the last CELINE DION concert in Nice, a stage like that in big festivals is dismantled in 2 days or even 3 days, we started at 6am and we had to leave the Stadium at 10 pm because of the football match on the next day ! So it took a hundred people, cranes, forklift trucks, technicians … at 10pm we were out of the Stadium !! Only challenges!
RAN– Would BREXIT cause you real problems?
RS– No, England is a country where it is very difficult to work because they possess an enormous professional protectionism. As long as they have the equipment at home they won’t take anything anywhere else!!! But we happen to go there with our French productions, Mylène FARMER, POLNAREFF … Although we work in the North African countries, in the Eastern countries, we don’t work in England. The United States and England are countries fully equipped in this area ! I think they are self-sufficient!
RAN– What will be your next challenges?
RS– Our next challenges, finally, will be to discover a new surprise! Working for CELINE DION was a surprise! Beside the entertainment sector, we were also responsible for building the COP 21 structures, which was huge as well. We prepare great tours but we still remain discrete. In our peripheral companies we are equipping the new big venue in Nanterre. When I mean”equip” it’s about all the metallic structure, the construction! It’s another challenge. And the band we will welcome has the same initials as me “RS”!! It will be the ROLLING STONES!!! So, next appointment in October at the new Stadium in PARIS!!! 45000 indoor seats.
RAN– Thank you very much for having received us!
RS– It was a real pleasure! As you see, José, 35 years later, I still display the same passion!!
photos courtesy of STACCO
From Belgian and Italian parents, I grew up with music, dance and big fun! I love singing since I'm a little girl, I still am, haha. When I was 14, I saw my first concert: T-Rex. Later it was FrankZappa, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Fela, Canned Heat, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Earth, Wind and Fire ....
I dreamed to have a chat with each of them 😀 Before interviewing bands, I used to sing (and still do) and met lots of great musicians. I had the chance to be the support band to Joe Cocker in 2007. I love to communicate and meet people (Italian blood).
Working for magazine, a few years ago, l met José Oliveira! We were working at the same festival in Colmar. 2 people from the South with the same passion just recognized each other...and we stayed in contact since then. Here I am! Enjoying concerts, covering interviews and articles with José for Rock at Night!!