“Everyday, we don’t go to work, we come to fun” says Heather Kirsch, Marketing Manager for ZFX Flying Effects. “We have about 30 employees that work here, and I can honestly say that I know all of them personally and would invite them to my wedding.”
So, what do the chipper folk at ZFX Flying Effects do? If the name didn’t give it away, ZFX is part of a niche industry that specializes in making people- and just about anything else- fly. Nope, no planes nor balloons, nor helicopters in sight. Rather, these men and women are practitioners and developers of the two-and-a-half millennium old art of “flying” for public performances. They’re literally in the business of creating flights of whimsy and wonder. No wonder they’re having so much fun.
ZFX started out 17 years ago as a fairly simple case study in Supply and Demand. “ the only other flying company in the industry had gone about 30 years without competition.” explains Heather. “With a long history of entrepreneurship, our owner and founder Terri Kirsch decided it would be a good and successful investment to create a flying company. And it was”
Performance flying for films is pretty familiar for most of us. While film productions are important for ZFX, movies aren’t the only things they work on- darn near anyone can do that. ZFX is one of the very few companies out there that specializes in stage flying for live audiences- and one of the fewer that actually develops new technologies entirely in-house and sells them. “Some companies refuse to try something new; well, we refuse not to!” says Heather.
Not only does ZFX Flying Effects handle the rigging and the ropes and wires and all the things flying needs (you didn’t think we were actually talking about actual flying, did you? No? Good), they also do everything else. The group prides itself in being artists who handle every single step of the process. Not only do they manage the wires and all that mundane grunt-work, they also develop the tools, refine existing safety protocols, create the props, make their own fairy dust (28% more reflective than the competition, we’re assured) and in a pinch they can even supply the performers. Performers that sing. And, because we just had to fit this in somewhere, all of the guys wear kilts. How cool is that?
ZFX has worked for a very varied assortment of clients and events from all over the world. It has been involved in countless Broadway productions and sporting events,(including the 20101 Winter Olympics in Vancouver) and has done work for corporate clients and churches. That’s right- churches.
Heather clarifies, “ About 3 years ago, we kind of found a niche within the church community. All over the Bible Belt, there were churches that put on huge productions of passion plays for Christmas and Easter.” Heather continues,“There is nothing more awe-inspiring that watching Jesus and his angels fly in the air at the end of a gorgeous harmonious ballad.”
The people behind ZFX do their darnedest to make sure that if you want someone or something to fly, it’s going to fly. Their successes are some of the best marketing tools anyone could wish for. It helps they don’t price themselves ridiculously out of the market either.“Something that ZFX does quite well is that when a client calls us for a quote, we have about 95% success rate of them choosing us to fly, rather than our competition” relates Heather.
Despite their dedication to excellence however, they do face a major challenge. As a new company, they don’t quite have as big a name as the competition just yet. Even when they have innovated and created more than their fair share since they came on the scene.
Heather explains “Our biggest challenge is when we don’t get the call, but our competitors do. It’s hard to win the contract when you aren’t even invited to the party. It is with our marketing and networking that we try to change that.”
To meet that challenge, ZFX Flying Effects orders all of their business cards from UPrinting.com.
“ZFX has a brand that stands out among our competitors,” explains Heather. “Having a brand that people recognize in the technical theater industry is something that has never been done before. By providing us creative business cards, we are able to better externally market ourselves by staying true to the brand of ZFX Flying Effects.”