Outcome of pandemic pivot: Raleigh’s female-led events company becomes a production powerhouse

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RALEIGH – Two years after its relaunch as a digital broadcast/live event production company, The special events company (TSEC), a Raleigh regular, says business is booming.

Sally Webb, who founded the company in 1987, said it produces a wide range of virtual events. Renowned customers include SAS, Google, Duke and Lenovo. He is also exploring new verticals such as gaming and esports, recently producing “Stream Raleigh”, a hybrid event for global streaming platform Twitch.

Now, with the return of live events combined with its new digital capability, TSEC is hiring and on track to have the “best year in its 35-year history”. Projected annual revenue for this year: $8 million in annual revenue, she said.

“Adding in-house digital production allowed TSEC to not only survive the shutdown, but to deliver added value,” Webb told WRAL TechWire.

“[We’ve been] able to both thrive and create new business amid the turmoil of the global events industry.

Going virtual… The special events company producing the Stream Raleigh influencer event hosted by Twitch.

The Special Event Company’s new digital recording studio

Pandemic pivot

When the pandemic ended live events in 2020, Webb said she knew she had to pivot quickly.

In less than three months, she sold her newly renovated officers’ headquarters on Glenwood Avenue and set about renovating new space for a “state-of-the-art” virtual events studio at Apex. Production technicians and studio managers were hired; streaming technology, sets and acoustics installed.

“It was a risk. We didn’t have a track record or a track record as a digital communicator,” Webb recalls. “But experience told us it was the right offer.”

Sally Webb, founder of the Special Event Company

This did not happen without difficulties. At the start of the pandemic, TSEC initially laid off 50% of its staff, eventually laying off nearly a quarter of its workforce. But with a loan backed by the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and rolling revenue from the new digital studio, Webb said she could keep her core team intact. Eventually, she brought back staff members who wanted to return a year later.

Through it all, Webb focused on the positives. “It allowed us to be the full-service agency model that was in our strategic growth plan, before the pandemic. It just happened a little earlier than expected,” she said.

Today, the team has 14 members – just two members down from its pre-pandemic levels – and it plans to add two producers by the end of the year.

Among his upcoming projects: the production of an 800-person franchise conference over 5 days for a company based in Triangle, Florida; and help the state put together a competitive bid for the 2027 Summer World University Games.

“We have a lot to do both regionally, statewide and nationally,” she said. “Events are back in force.

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