Name: Geoff Crow.

Age: 40.

What is your business called?

21CC Group.

Where is it based?

On the Hopetoun House Estate in West Lothian, with a warehouse and office facility in Livingston.

What services does it offer?

We are a Scottish-based events management company with four supply chain businesses. We offer event design, planning and management services as well as technical event production, professional firework displays and pyrotechnic effects for all kinds of events around the country. We are the designers and creators of Wondrous Woods, which took place at Hopetoun House Estate last winter attracting almost 40,000 visitors.

To whom does it sell?

Companies, festival organisers, local authorities, venues and private individuals. We also work for many other event planners, management companies and production businesses within the events sector.

What is its turnover?

£2 million- £2.5m.

How many employees?


Why did you take the plunge?

I saw a great business opportunity to expand our existing offering to the events sector, which at that time was solely professional firework displays, to a much wider range of services resulting in us being able to offer clients, producers and promoters a design, management and delivery turnkey solution for their events.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

After graduating from Glasgow University with a first-class degree in Civil Engineering with Architecture, and prior to taking on 21CC Group full time, I worked for a company called Buro Happold as a Structural Engineer. Whilst enjoying designing buildings and special structures, I was also running a fireworks business on the side as a hobby, called 21CC Fireworks. It got to a stage where I had to decide to either jump into the business full time or keep going with engineering. I made the decision then to go into the business full time. I took the professional fireworks business on full time in September 2009. I later launched 21CC Group in 2014.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

A portion of the funds were raised from my first business, a horticulture company that I set up when I was at high school. I also took out borrowings from RBS.

What was your biggest break?

Two of our big breaks early on involved winning the supply of the fireworks contract at T In The Park with DF Concerts in 2007 and Live at Edinburgh Castle with the BBC in 2012. These contracts were a major catalyst for business growth for us, particularly within the Scottish live events sector and lead to us delivering the fireworks annually for the BBC proms and the opening of the European Championships in Glasgow in 2018.

What was your worst moment?

Leading an event company, it will probably come as no surprise to you when I say that the weeks that proceeded the pandemic were filled with some of the worst moments in business that I ever hope to encounter. In the first week of lockdown, we lost almost £250,000 worth of contracts. Since then, we have had over £2m worth of work cancelled or postponed.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

First and foremost, I am passionate about building a strong and determined team. It’s exciting coming up with new concepts and new ideas for events then working with my team to bring them to life. A prime example of this is Wondrous Woods, which we launched and ran as a Covid-19-safe experience last year. I am also driven by the chase. I enjoy seeking out new markets and finding out what clients sit within the market and what business opportunities there are as a result.

What do you least enjoy?

Over the last year, we have really struggled with the lack of people interaction. We are all about bringing people together.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

This year has inevitably been one of the hardest on record, but we have innovated and found ways to pivot and sustain our business, including the launch of Wondrous Woods. My ambition is to continue to grow the business within the existing sectors that we are in, but also to find new markets that are emerging post Covid-19 and consider the opportunities. Prior to Covid-19, I was on the look-out to make an acquisition of another business within the events sector. I will be revisiting that this year. We have also got some exciting plans in the pipeline for the launch of a new brand.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

The Event Industry Advisory Group - of which I’m a member - has written a letter to the First Minister, in an attempt to gather more information for event organisers around a clear recovery route map to allow the sector time to plan for the return of events. Makor events take time to plan. In my opinion, one of the most critical stimuli for the return of the events sector would be the government underwriting events in the instance of cancellation as a result of Covid-19. Currently, the Covid-19 legislation makes event planning prohibitive for organisers and promoters, because they stand to lose significant unrecoverable sums. If the potential losses were supported, then it would encourage producers and promoters to plan events, which in turn will stimulate the supply chain. I have a saying, “Feed the mouth and the body gets nourished”. Simple.

How do you relax? – I cannot beat spending time with my wife, kids, dog and Land Rover defender. It is important these are listed in that order! They are a tonic to some of the responsibilities that I carry as a business owner and I cherish them dearly. They remind me daily what the meaning of life is, and they keep me very much grounded. My Land Rover is everything to me. Sorry, I meant family.