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ETCP-Certified Rigging Leaders Increase Safety and Profit

The Rigging World column by Andrew Fulton  

While pondering my topic for this issue, your TEAM came to mind—specifically its structure. In other words, I wonder if you’ve added a professional, Entertainment Technician Certification Program-certified rigger to your team?  

I ask, because we all have the same goal: a strong team that completes projects in safe, efficient ways that lead to solid profits. But do we all have the same understanding on how this is accomplished? The fact is, when you add an ETCP-certified rigger to your team, its structure is strengthened and probability of solid profit is greatly enhanced because this person knows the devil is in the details, and monitors them 24/7. Details associated with safety, time and money. For instance: 

Safety: Your ETCP-certified rigger understands that accidents reduce profit and knows how to manage the risks associated with your project. He/she puts the right pieces and parts together that suspend all elements rigged in your booth. 

Time: An ETCP-certified rigger (your Auto-Cad master and rigging designer) understands timelines and workflow associated with every aspect of the project. He/she can speed up the install process and help you avoid time- and money-wasting afterthoughts. 

He/she can design and submit an accurate (and mandatory) Auto-Cad-designed load-path drawing to the general contractor. This plan, which must be approved by the building structural engineer, depicts how every rigging point is attached to the ceiling (meaning all rigging must be thought out beforehand). Because an ETCP-certified rigger is your load-path designer, the rigging process is sped up (loading in of lighting trusses, audio, signage and LED walls, for instance), onsite head-scratching is minimized, and labor knows exactly what the expectations are, which increases job efficiency. 

Money: An ETCP-certified rigger knows how to scrutinize a project so nothing is overlooked, thus creating a basis for an accurate bid. We all have stories where a crucial detail was overlooked, resulting in a screwed-up timeline which affected every other job-related department, not to mention the budget. Critical details are commonly missed because a key person (a specialist within a specific scope of work, such as the ETCP-certified rigger) wasn’t included on the team. It’s the professional rigger who can catch the glitches involving rigging and help you quote an accurate price. 

This professional can also save you money by minimizing labor costs. An ETCP-certified rigger knows the town’s venues and their ceilings, plus the average time it takes to get a rigging point in the air. This rigger knows the buildings and crews, can put an outstanding team together, and can motivate them to move quickly and in unity like a fine-tuned machine.  

Typically, general contractor-dispatched riggers aren’t vested in your job. And since labor is paid hourly (with OT available), they don’t mind when scheduled eight-hour-jobs end up taking 12. Thus another reason to have that ETCP rigging leader on your team—to plan strategies which maximize labor efficiency—and will keep an eight-hour day at an eight-hour day. This consummate professional is vested in your project and knows how to avoid the labor-favoring “chaoscreatescash scenario. He/she keeps a crew motivated and safely moving so the job comes in on or under-time.  

Our goal is to deliver safe, on time, greatlooking exhibits for our clients, their clients and the attendees of every event. On top of that, to come in under-budget. It’s accomplished by hiring skilled and detail-oriented designers, managers and leaders who understand workflow, and how to create efficient production strategies based around the hourly labor doing the work. 

That said, you can see how ETCP-certified riggers are worth their weight in gold. Their skills and leadership are the secret to success with safety, time and money. So, if you’ve been executing jobs without a professional rigger on your side, why not make this the year you add that expert to your team? May we all RIG FOR SUCCESS in 2020! 

Andrew Fulton, member of IATSE Local 720, is the lead production rigger at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center and was lead rigger for PRG at the Sands Expo, Venetian and Palazzo Hotels from 2012-15.  He co-founded RIG FOR SUCCESS with Jason Sellmann  and is also one of three owners of RIGGING INTERNATIONAL GROUP (R.I.G.) Contact him at  

 This story originally appeared in the March/April issue of Exhibit City News, p. 48. For original layout, visit


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