Live From NBA All-Star: PPI Enjoys Home-Court Advantage in Successful Crewing Effort

Labor provider supplies 124 technicians working 491 event days for multiple clients

For Program Productions Inc.’s VP Joey Carzoli and his brother, Chairman/CEO Bob Carzoli, the 2020 NBA All-Star game at Chicago’s United Center provided a great opportunity to bring together hundreds of talented crew members for a big-time event on PPI’s home turf.

“Fifteen years ago, we were the fifth-largest crewing company in Chicago, and now we are number one in the world,” says Joey Carzoli. “We are extremely humbled, and to say we appreciate everything is an understatement.”

PPI’s Joey Carzoli says being in the field with clients is an important part of the company’s crewing success.

NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago was a multi-day event in which multiple entities took over multiple venues around town for productions. PPI provided 124 technicians who worked a total of 491 event days for such clients as Turner Sports, NBA TV, Twitter, and the ELEAGUE. XLT Management Services was onsite for payroll.

“It was a challenge,” says Joey Carzoli of finding the best crew members for the job. “We dipped into the Milwaukee market to get some additional quality people, and they did an outstanding job.”

Once the weekend started, the task at hand was to keep up with ever-changing production needs: everything from call times to the size of a crew can change quickly depending on what the production side is looking to accomplish. The ProCrewz mobile app, introduced by PPI two years ago, plays a key part in ensuring that crew members are updated on their call times and even allows them to make sure their billable hours are correct in the system.

“It took a lot of investment to get it done,” says Joey Carzoli, “but the feedback has been spectacular.”

According to Amy Scheller, SVP. strategy and development, PPI, introduction of the ProCrewz event-management software and mobile app to the industry has been a game-changer.

“PPI utilizes ProCrewz to provide clients with 24/7 access to the status of event crews and estimates,” she says. “PPI event crews use the ProCrewz mobile app to see event details, punch in/out within a venue-specific geo-fence, submit expenses and upload receipts, and see estimated and final pay.”

Joey Carzoli says PPI is tireless in its efforts to match crew with the specific needs of the clients: “This sets us apart from other crewing services. Getting enough runners and utilities was a big accomplishment, given that there was a need for about 20 whereas typically two or three would be enough to get the job done.”

Another challenge, he adds, was finding enough makeup artists. “Thankfully, I have access to a pool of about seven or eight in Chicago,” he explains. “Makeup is tough because you can’t just stick a green makeup artist in with celebrities.”

Up next for Joey Carzoli will be a trip to Arizona for the Marquee Network, the new TV home of the Chicago Cubs. Spring training kicks off on Saturday, and then it is time for the regular season to begin in Milwaukee with the all-important home opener on April 30.

Scheller says the company is honored to partner with Marquee Network and to have the opportunity to provide talented crews and the highest level of customer service that will support its success.

“The key to PPI’s success as the leading labor provider in North America,” she says, “is managing our national reach by keeping regional offices with staff crewers in 40 major markets.”

PPI President Scott West concurs: “If the mobile units don’t show up, there is no show, and the same is true if there is not a comprehensive labor presence. There are several industry leaders on the facilities side to handle large events, but PPI and XLT are the only national labor-management companies that can handle this workload.”

Reflecting on NBA All-Star Weekend, Joey Carzoli calls it a job well done: “Everybody was where they were supposed to be. To me, it’s all about being in the field supporting our clients and getting the pulse of the techs so you can address problems face to face.”

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