Three decades ago, Richard Hoggatt Jr. started what would eventually grow into Houston's most comprehensive event and media production company.
Stage Directions Inc. has staged events for such high-profile companies as Texaco, TXU Energy, Kroger, Kwik Kopy, Holiday Inn, and the Houston Rockets, incorporating celebrities, music, lights, sound, projection, and every other aspect of a flawless event. So what's the secret behind the success?
It's Hoggatt himself, who has established a presence as the go-to guy for every major event or media production need.
"Richard's experience far surpasses that of anyone else I've ever met in the industry," says Trent Blake, Stage Directions' executive director of events. "He's been there, done that, and can make anything happen, no matter what else might be going on around us."
James Mackey, whom Hoggatt hired as the company's sales manager in 1995, says he was brand-new when first hired on, but that Hoggatt was willing to teach him everything he needed to know.
"We traveled all over the world for our corporate clients, and literally put out fires when it was required," says Mackey. "Okay, we only had one fire to put out, but we managed to do it without evacuating the Vegas hotel."
He calls Hoggatt a "creative genius," and though Mackey left Stage Directions in 2005, he still counts his time there as some of the most valuable of his career. Some of his most cherished highlights include the opportunity to work with Peter Jennings, putting a microphone on George W. Bush, and protecting Lance Armstrong from too many photographs backstage.
Jill Vidal-Raines, president of the Houston chapter of the National Association of Catering and Events, has also witnessed Hoggatt's expertise first-hand.
"Richard's contributions to the mechanics and artistry of sound and lighting entertainment are truly profound," she says. "Richard is a pillar of our industry, and after 30 years, he continues to light up the talent in Houston."
The world of event production can often be fraught with potential problems, from technological mishaps to the possibility of running over budget. But even those outside the company have marveled at how easily and elegantly Hoggatt is able to sidestep all issues, delivering only memorable events that convey exactly what his clients want.
Craig Howard, the general manager of The Ballroom at Bayou Place, stresses how much care Hoggatt puts into his work.
"Richard is not only amazing at what he does, he truly cares about his clients," says Howard. "He will always go out of his way to work within clients' budgets."
Courtney Rai, the vice president of sales and marketing for Magic Moments Parties and Events, agrees.
"He is extremely dedicated to the special events industry and has always been so giving of his time and resources," she says. "Having served on a board alongside him, I will always admire his care and consideration for everyone that he works with. He is a true industry icon and gem for the Houston special events community."
While the tech-savvy elements are what Stage Directions executes so well, it's the added touch of being led by one of the best in the business that truly sets it apart.