May 13, 2022

How BlackOak Became a Modern Production Company, Business News

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the events industry, but it hasn’t stopped BlackOak. How did they become a modern production company? Learn about their resilience within the event industry and how it transformed them into the business they are today.

In the spring of 2020, BlackOak faced the same uncertainties as the rest of the world. They resigned themselves to working from home not knowing how it might turn out for them in the live event space.


BlackOak had just come off a strong 2019, where they produced one epic event after another. But this new reality posed direct challenges to their business. The previous year, they had enabled off-the-beaten-path events like Datassential’s Foodscape conference. Hundreds of guests had gathered to meet and dine together, face to face. How could something similar be possible during a full quarantine? And even if participants could safely congregate in the coming months, would the teams be able to work side-by-side to set up the necessary production equipment?


As the days (and soon the weeks) began to pass, the reality of the pandemic became apparent. The events industry wouldn’t be returning to in-person events anytime soon. They would not go ahead with any of the major event productions that clients had planned for the coming months.

From VR events in virtual spaces to a UV sterilization tent for the store, BlackOak’s ideas to replicate last year’s work have been ground to a halt. Conversations shifted from how to get back to last year’s business to BlackOak’s primary focus: customer needs. They started evaluating the various customer activations they had done in the past. BlackOak challenged themselves to develop actionable and practical workarounds that would proactively provide what was keeping their customers up at night. BlackOak’s track record of cutting-edge innovation in the traditional event space has served them well. They were used to overcoming setbacks and last-minute changes in plans. With each project, success or failure, new skills have been developed.

BlackOak began reaching out to existing customers to find out what was essential to staying afloat. What events should still be executed one way or another? They quickly found themselves exploring virtual events and remote production. Fortunately, the customers were delighted. BlackOak produced its first large-scale virtual event in early June — a graduation ceremony for seniors at a public high school in Chicago. They were able to serve their primary constituents – students and parents – with virtual activation. The students found it meaningful and the families were able to “come together” safely to celebrate their children’s accomplishments.


As spring turned into summer, BlackOak worked diligently to improve its technical skills and invest in the best tools for new types of events. They were committed to delivering best-in-class execution for any client activation they committed to. While the team mostly worked from home, the building was empty. As for the BlackOak family of brands, KEHOE DESIGNS, the fabric department made masks and other PPE, the graphics department built plexiglass barriers, and Floral Exhibits opened Green Market Garden pop-ups across the city. Corn The Geraghty, BlackOak’s 25,000 square foot event space, was empty. How could they use the existing space and equipment?

As the strictest “stay-at-home” orders were lifted and customers sought higher production values, it was time to expand production capabilities. BlackOak leveraged its strengths by working with KEHOE DESIGNS and its family of brands to create a pair of festive hybrid weddings. First, an internal project. For preparation and proof of concept. Craig Kidwell of BlackOak had married the previous year. Craig and his wife pulled out their wedding attire and became ‘customers’ as the crew struggled to film and broadcast a hybrid event and security protocols to keep the crew safe. During this difficult time, BlackOak wanted to give back to the community. Their family of brands donated a hybrid wedding to a first responder and her fiancé. The result? It was a celebration that was everything they hoped for – wonderful, interactive and above all – full of love for the couple and their family.


BlackOak was excited to test its new system. But many couples have decided to postpone their weddings to the following year to enjoy a traditional wedding celebration instead of a virtual gathering. Despite the lack of interest in the wedding, there has been an influx of requests for galas and fundraising events. Once again, BlackOak has changed direction, putting its freshly honed talents to good use for our nonprofit partners. A momentous event saw the BlackOak team transport much of their gear to a college campus. They set up a virtual streaming studio on campus to broadcast the annual fundraising gala in a single day. BlackOak found ways for crew and on-site talent to stay socially distant and COVID compliant throughout the process with consistent success.


The pieces were coming together, but how could BlackOak put the new skills and gear together? An idea germinated. In the vast open space of The Geraghty, they have built a fully functional digital streaming studio. Drawings were drawn and redrawn, and the plan took shape. The BlackOak Studio was designed with a massive LED wall-mounted backdrop, smart lighting, a sophisticated audio system, professional-grade video equipment, and the ability to reliably stream live to an audience.

Over the next few months, many events would enter and exit space. Whether it’s a high-end fashion show, morning talk show, or choir performance, the team has helped organizations raise funds and mobilize minds. Each event transformed the BlackOak Studio with a custom technical production.

With the return to in-person events, the ability to seamlessly produce state-of-the-art remote productions remains in BlackOak’s wheelhouse. Customers have realized that there are particular efficiencies between virtual and face-to-face, and for these cases, they will be more than ready to provide effective solutions.

Don’t be a stranger. Discover BlackOak Technical Productions — visit www.blackoak.techfollow us on social media or call us at 872.281.7700.

Contact information:
Name: Lamb Kim Bakota
E-mail: Send an email
Organization: BlackOak Technical Productions
Address: 2555 S Leavitt St, Chicago, IL 60608
Phone: (872) 281-7700

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Source: MarketersMEDIA

Build ID: 89065790