Halfway through the year, Stephen Smith reflects on recent growth and the challenges of change.
Starting with just two events in 2011, Gemini Events has grown to be one of the UK’s biggest, outdoor classic motor show organisers, with fifteen events this year at prestigious venues across the Midlands and South.
When the family firm took over Greenwood Exhibitions in 2011, a subsequent name change to Gemini Events ensured that there was no confusion between them and another established organiser. Work then began to build a solid reputation among classic car owners and to develop the content of the shows. As Stephen Smith, Events Director at Gemini says: ‘We came into this industry with a fresh pair of eyes having looked closely at many other events so that we could learn from the good and bad points of established organisers.’
Gemini Events was already on course for growth when, late last year, an opportunity arose to acquire the Midlands shows previously organised by Transtar Promotions. It meant a huge up-scaling of effort and resources – but the results have been very well worthwhile.
‘We never set out to be biggest, but when we were approached by Geoff Price at Transtar it was an opportunity we could not turn down. It has been a massive undertaking for what is still a very small family business and we have been, and are, under a great deal of scrutiny from owners, trader and venues alike’ says Stephen.
After a difficult start to the year, with a very cold and wet Weston Park followed by a cold and cloudy Catton Hall, the team at Gemini Events hit their stride and began to show Midlands classic owners that Transtar’s long-established and much-loved events are safe in Gemini’s hands.
Recent shows in Warwickshire and Staffordshire have been hailed as successes, with a record number of visitors at Ragley Hall over May Bank Holiday and at Trentham Gardens in June, where a new judging process was applauded by owners who also praised Gemini’s management of the 1,000+ vehicles on the site.
Stephen does not pretend that change is without difficulties. ‘‘The weather certainly didn’t help us at the start of the season but halfway through the year I can proudly say we are getting some great feedback on what we have achieved so far. I also recognise that some owners and autojumblers are nervous about change and have expressed concern about some of the alterations and ideas we are trialling. We listen and learn from feedback but one thing is certain; if we stand still we are moving backwards. Younger owners, traders, and visitors constantly demand more from us and we strive to provide great value to the widest possible cross-section. That said, however hard we try, we know we won’t please all the people all the time.’
Meanwhile, in the South of England, Gemini was approached by both Knebworth House and Hatfield House in Hertfordshire to put on two new events this year. Stephen said ‘The timing was not ideal with the already difficult task of taking on the Midlands events but sometimes you just have to take the opportunities presented.’ The new Knebworth show took place in May and Hatfield House takes place on July 3rd
‘We have seven shows still to come in 2016,’ says Stephen, ‘and we’ll be doing all that we can to ensure that owners, traders and visitors have a brilliant time with us.’