Corporate events are serious business. A tour through the Tempe warehouse of event production services firm Merestone turns this truth into a reality as you walk by a plethora of props and lighting equipment that would get any production geek excited.
Podiums, from the audacious to the demure are lined up on shelves. Multiple stages, advanced lighting fixtures and high-tech projectors are scattered throughout the space. Within the warehouse you’ll also walk past Tiki bars, water fountain walls, Santa’s Throne and a custom-built model ship, to name a few.
The events and production industries have been changing so much lately, Merestone thought it was time to host its first open house in a couple of years on Thursday, says Camille Luce Hill, Merestone’s president. Technology, of all things, has been leading that change, she says.
“The greatest impact has been on the lighting. LED Lighting has transformed everything. So, now they can be programmed by computers, now they don’t get hot,” Hill says. “Anything touched with digital, computers, changes, it just grows so fast that the minute you buy something it goes out of date. The technology equipment used to have shelf-life for years, now it’s pretty much two years.”
Manufacturers were on hand with the latest equipment, and all of Merestone’s departments set up displays and examples of technology and props that could make any event a first-rate production.
Lasers from light shows synced to music danced across the warehouse walls and 14k projectors showed the exciting ways projectors have gone beyond the basic PowerPoint presentation.
Merestone has been in the business for 43 years, Hill says. She and her husband started the business literally out of their backyard, and Merestone has grown ever since. The Tempe-based company has 75 full-time employees, but when counting independent contractors, the headcount goes up to about 250, Hill notes.
Within Merestone’s Tempe warehouse, there is a printing workshop, a warehouse where the Merestone makes and stores its props and so much more. Recently, Merestone expanded to have a workshop where foam props can be made on site.
Foam is especially useful to make fake sceneries, like mountains or boulders.
There are also recording studios and editing bays for videos that can be made for events.
Of the hundreds of awards Merestone has received over the years, many of them have been for video, Hill notes.
Merestone operates within and beyond Arizona’s borders, with about 85 percent of its business taking place at events outside of Arizona, Hill says. Merestone’s office in Texas is also on track to surpass the firm’s Tempe office output sometime next year, she says.
“We’ve kind of gotten big,” Hill says. “So, our backyard of Arizona can’t support us, so we go anywhere our clients go.”
And go they do. During a tour of Merestone’s warehouse, one employee notes that a statue they created for a client survived a both the journey to Florida, and the hurricane that made landfall too.