Tim Buchholz, owner of Stage and Audio.
Tim Buchholz, owner of Stage and Audio.

Business puts off 17 staff after losing millions

FOR THE more than 35 years Tim Buchholz has been operating his business, he has seen cyclones, floods and economic downturns - but today's "apocalypse" of the coronavirus pandemic is nothing compared to them.

The production and events business, Stage and Audio, was established in Rockhampton in 1983.

Following the crackdown on mass gatherings, Mr Buchholz has lost millions of dollars of work he had in the pipeline.

Over the past couple of weeks he has had to give money back to clients who had paid for events which are no longer ahead.

"Most of our customers have postponed, however there are a lot of them who don't know when they will be getting married, so we've had to refund them," he said.

"It hurts, but again I feel sorry for the brides that really wanted to get married."

The company also owns CQ Party Hire and MV Party Hire in Gladstone.

Last fortnight they paid 31 pay packets - a stark difference to what it is this week.

Mr Buchholz was forced to make the tough choice to keep his three children, who are managers, on along with six of his high skilled employees.

He had to let 17 staff go, some of which had been with the business for years.

"I was devastated for them and I am worried about their mental health," Mr Buchholz said.

It's the first time in 37 years his business has had a "shake down", he said.

"We have come through every economic downturn with flying colours because people go out and spend money on distractional entertainment even when they don't have money," Mr Buchholz said.

"We have lived through cyclones, foods, economic crashes and all sorts of other crashes but not this sort of craziness."

The cancellation of the Gladstone Harbour Festival really affected the business as it was a big contract each year.

Because of this, the doors of MV Party Hire have now been closed indefinitely.

"We kept it because of the big events but with no big events down there we can't afford premises," Mr Buchholz said.

"We will still service Gladstone from Rockhampton, it's just about business rationalisations at the moment."

Looking to the future, Mr Buchholz isn't sure what they will do.

He is grateful to ANZ bank for putting loans on hold.

With a few aspects to his business, Mr Buchholz said they would have to focus on sales and installations.

This area is usually only 20 to 30 per cent of their revenue but it will now have to be 100 per cent as they can't do the other aspects.

The field includes specific installation contracts like their recent work with the new cinemas at the Longreach Hall of Fame or works at Emerald Town Hall,

They just won a $70,000 contract at Capella this week, which will result in a profit of $8000 - some news Mr Buchholz was very grateful for.

"It keeps us going for two days," he said.

He likened the current events to the iconic movie Apocalypse Now and the infamous quote "some day this war is going to end".

With some positivity in his voice, he looks forward to what will be on the other side.

"There will be celebrations at the end of this," he said.

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