Heckington-based sound business weathers storm of coronavirus

A Sleaford area businessman who provides PA systems for events around the country is finally welcoming his first jobs for 18 months since the 
latest relaxation of 
coronavirus restrictions.

Dave Colby of Heckington finally getting back into business after long lay-off due to Covid restrictions. EMN-210621-095049001

Large scale public events have been among the last to return after months of social distancing limits made it impossible for them to be viable.

It has meant businesses such as Colby National Sound, run by Dave Colby of Heckington, have remained in limbo, without income coming in throughout the health crisis.

Dave is a consultant and supplier of public address, radio communications and sports timing equipment, having built his enterprise up over 30 years, having started out playing drums in local bands as a 16-year-old.

Dave Colby of Heckington finally getting back into business after long lay-off due to Covid restrictions. EMN-210621-095039001

Moving on to running discos he was gig promoter for the Mayburn Club in town in the 1970s. After training in electronic sound engineering, he ran 12 mobile discos until 1986 before shifting into PA equipment and expanding through recommendations.

“The public expect good sound reproduction these days,” Dave said.

After losing all bookings from March 2020, Dave furloughed his one full-time employee. He finally honoured his first booking, a garden show at Blenheim Palace, in late June 2021.

He admits: “Luckily I am mortgage-free and own all my equipment. I normally have 250 to 300 bookings a year, so I have been finally able to catch up on maintenance and repairs to things like commentary boxes and mic leads.”

As the largest PA contractor in the county he has covered Lincoln Christmas Market for 20 years, Spalding Flower Parade for 25 years and other events like the Revesby Show, Lamma Farm Show and Lincolnshire Steam Rally for more than 20 years.

He has also supported the Northern Ireland Air Show, the World Rowing Championships and 600 running events around the UK including being part of the timing team at the London Marathon for 17 years. He will be back with the Lincoln Cycle Race in October.

Dave, who can also supply a team of commentators, said many of the volunteer-run events have opted to hold off for another year, while commercial concerns have had to try and make it work by limiting tickets and keeping crowds separated.

But he said it is much harder for music concert events, with many having to cancel.

“I am lucky with the people I work for, they are solid businesses, whereas some events may not come back,” he said.