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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 16, 2017 1 year ago

Access Granted

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ID&C makes wristbands used at many of the most talked-about festivals nationwide. Ambitious growth plans aim for even greater industry dominance.
by: Grier Ferguson Staff Writer

It's just one piece of the puzzle for festival producers. But it's a key piece.

At festivals and events worldwide, wristbands are used for access control, conducting transactions and collecting data. The United Kingdom-based company ID&C Ltd., with a North American headquarters in Sarasota, makes wristbands for some of the biggest festivals today.

“Without these, people would show up and it would be chaos,” says Caleb Jones, ID&C LLC's vice president of sales for North America. “We want to make things as seamless and quick as possible.”

ID&C, which stands for Identification and Credentials, makes several types of wristbands, including paper, vinyl, cloth, silicone, barcode and RFID or radio-frequency identification wristbands that incorporate a device with electronically stored information. The technology allows festivalgoers to purchase items by scanning the wristband without having to take out cash or a credit card.

That feature, Jones says, changed festival management and spells increased profits for festival vendors. ID&C also sells items such as vehicle passes, lanyards and identification badges. “At the core, we're a security company,” Jones says.

ID&C got its start in the U.K. in 1995, when it produced wristbands for a local event. It later secured large clients such as the U.K.'s Glastonbury Festival, and since then clients have included Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits Music Festival and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The company has also provided wristbands for events connected with the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards and Miami's Ultra Music Festival.

Jones started working for ID&C in 2015 after owners Matt Wilkey and Steve Daly decided to open a U.S. branch to manage ID&C's North America-based clients.

Jones, who grew up in the area, knew he wanted the American headquarters to be in Sarasota. “My goal was to bring something to Sarasota that was innovative and interesting,” he says.

A year after Jones started working from home for the company, ID&C opened an office near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to attract employees from Sarasota, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch. At first, it was just Jones and three other employees. Now there are 12.

Jones says the people he works with understand the industry. “Employees get what we do because they're festival people, too. That's why people come to us — we think different. Most of our competitors don't go to festivals.”

Jones says clients also appreciate ID&C's focus on customer service and its prices. “You want to work with people who answer their phones on a Friday night,” says Jones, who also answers his phone on weekends.

On pricing, Jones says it has to do with quantity. “We do so many events,” he says, “a lot of competitors can't keep up with us on price.” Jones says RFID wristbands are 55 to 65 cents each and vinyl and paper wristbands can get down to 2 cents each. About 60% of the orders are for RFID wristbands.

The next step for the U.S. office includes increasing sales through the company's website. That includes making alterations so the site aligns more with how U.S. customers prefer to shop, such as offering several options for customization. “We never do the same wristband twice,” Jones says.

Jones declines to elaborate on specific revenue figures, though he says the last fiscal year was a good one, up 50%, and the company is on track to have another big year. Plans are also in the works to expand more into mid-size and local events. “Room for growth is insane for the company,” Jones says. “I'm really excited about the next 10 to 15 years.”

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