Lagotronics looks back
July 1st marked the 40 year anniversary of the founding of Lagotronics Projects, a company which has since embraced a “young at heart” mantra. Founder and president, Carlo Görtjes, and CEO, Mark Beumers, take a look back at four decades of Lago.
“It’s a very special year for us,” says Mark, “which has been celebrated by visiting Europa-Park with our whole team; the Dutch and international Lago-crew. Also we have launched some 40-years activities, like the ‘Flag-On-Tour’ pictures, PR moments in magazines and online platforms, nice historical facts and images on social media, and so on.”
“The company as it is now can’t be compared with 40-years ago,” Carlo adds, casting back to years ago. “Did you know the founding in 1979 was a must at the time? At the age of 22, I was already a DJ in bars, clubs, camp sites and other parties. While I was still in school! More and more bookings were made, and it turned out to be better starting an official company. Soon after that, I needed storage for all the equipment. From here it really began to get moving…” A great example of a hobby getting out of hand!
When we ask about one of the first theme park projects, they both refer to the Dark Ride ‘Mansion de la Llorona’ at Six Flags in Mexico City, where Lagotronics Projects installed the complete show control in 1999. Mark remembers this project as it was yesterday: “I was only 21 years old and briefly employed at Lagotronics Projects, when I was asked to make the big trip to Mexico City! That time, there were no mobile phones, I didn’t have a PC at home and I didn’t even have an email address.
“That made five weeks in Mexico seem like a long time! Just before I left, I bought my first digital camera. I used my colleague’s laptop to email a picture to my uncle, since he was the only one I knew with an email address. He printed the picture and brought it to my mother, who responded indignantly: ‘this picture is here sooner than my son himself!’ One thing I also won’t forget is the way the equipment was brought to the park: in an old Mexican open truck, fully stacked from bottom to the top with about €2m of electronics: PCs, amplifiers, speakers, etc. One hard brake and it would have gone pretty wrong! Anyway, the Six Flags project in Mexico was a tough job, but I’ve learned a lot. Surprisingly enough, I bumped in to someone during the latest Orlando expo who worked there at the time. He told me he was very satisfied about our work over there. It’s always great to hear that, even 20 years later!”
When we ask Carlo about an unforgettable memory, he doesn’t know where to start: “In 40 years I have a lot of those moments!” After some thinking, he opts for the time he concluded two major contracts in China in three days!
During Mark’s first years at Lagotronics Projects, he was also working as a project manager for the technical control of national and international TV shows. And of course, Carlo also did a lot of TV shows himself. Nowadays it has become commonplace, but back then there were several great technical challenges! What would you do if all the voting boxes no longer work due to a lightning strike just before the show starts? That’s right. You improvise with notes! Even though you just know you’ll get called to account by Mr. De Mol himself.
“There are so many moments, small and big ones, we can’t describe.” Mark continues. “Each project is unique and custom made. This means we have to deal with the greatest challenges. However, we always manage to solve things before the deadline.” Carlo adds: “From show to show, during the first week, new show-games were invented for the next one. So we had two weeks to build them. Believe me, it always was a huge technical challenge. Sometimes things went wrong during the rehearsals: sensors didn’t work, or a cable broke… But we always did it: during the show it always worked!”
Mark: “This is something I really have learned here: being stress resistant. Even though there were big custom projects with major challenges and deadlines, our motto at all times is ‘THE SHOW MUST GO ON’!
“You can only do this together with a team. You won’t manage alone.”
Carlo: “I totally agree. A company isn’t worth anything without its people. I’m proud of the fact that we have very little staff turnover. I’m also very proud that we’ve always belonged to the top high-tech companies with the most innovative products and techniques. Even though the company sometimes changed its strategic focus, within a few years we belonged to the top. When we believe in something, we go for it. From voting systems to LED lighting, from complete experience centres to attractions and rides in theme parks; we never give up. We have had many moments of euphoria, with many to follow.”
Finally, a proud Carlo and Mark finish their story. Carlo: “I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all colleagues and former employees for their commitment and their faith. We also want to thank our customers, partners and suppliers for their trust.
Mark adds: “I fully agree with Carlo. Besides this, I’d like to thank Carlo very, very much for having faith in me and the other two directors, giving us the opportunity to continue this great company.”