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Student's stage company garners global attention

August 29, 2013 10:30AM

A Pittsburg company run by a Pittsburg State student is about to get global attention thanks to a reality television show.

This fall, the “How It’s Made” show on the Discovery Channel, will feature the mobile hydraulic stages of Apex Stages, a division of Progressive Products, which is run by Pitt State MBA student Todd Allison.

Allison, president of Progressive Products and also an adjunct professor in Pitt State’s Innovation Engineering program, said the Discovery Channel feature came about on somewhat of a whim.

“Our sales manager for Apex Stages e-mailed the show one day and asked if they’d ever done anything on mobile hydraulic stages,” said Allison, who received his undergraduate degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. “It wasn’t 15 minutes later that the show replied saying they had never done that and would like to come out and feature our company.”

Allison, of course, was thrilled.

“I’m very glad for the publicity,” he said. “Every business looks for that kind of exposure. I think it was a piece of good fortune.”

Apex Stages was launched in 2005 in response for a demand for mobile stages that could be purchased by production companies. Allison said other companies provided stages to rent, but none were in the business of selling them.

A few years later, during his Basic Marketing class at Pitt State, Allison developed an ad campaign that has since helped the business increase its sales.

“We had to take part in a Google AdWords challenge, which meant we had to find a company and spend three weeks developing a marketing plan,” he said. “I designed my projects around the stages, and my metrics ended up being pretty high. We didn’t sell a stage within the two weeks of the contest, but within six months or a year, we could verify three or four stages that sold directly because of that ad campaign.

“In fact,” he said, “that ad campaign is running right now. I didn’t change anything. It’s been running that way since 2009.”

Apex Stages has enjoyed great success since its launch, selling between eight to 10 stages per year. Some of the music industry’s biggest names have performed on their stages, including Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Kid Rock, Luke Bryan, REO Speedwagon, Jason Aldean, KC and the Sunshine Band and country star Leann Rimes.

President Obama even stood on an Apex stage when he was campaigning for the office during one of the presidential debates in 2008.

“It’s a thrill,” Allison said of having big-name stars perform on their stages, “but it’s also a little scary. You just hope that nothing goes wrong.”

Apex Stages also provides stages for local and regional events, including Little Balkans Days in Pittsburg.

For more information about Apex Stages, visit http://www.apexstages.com.

©2013 Pittsburg State University