half yard production uses Flex for equipment inventory management on set

Raising Tourette's, produced by Half Yard Productions, is now on A&E Network

A renowned name in the industry, Half Yard Productions, produces documentary and reality TV shows for networks such as Discovery, History, Nat Geo, TLC, and Animal Planet. They started using Flex for broadcast equipment inventory management. They are best known for their hit TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress, The Last Alaskans, and I Found the Gown. It’s newest series, Raising Tourette’s, follows the lives of families with teenagers with Tourette’s Syndrome.

Founded by co-CEOs Abby Greensfelder and Sean Gallagher in 2006, Half Yard has established itself as a leading US creator and producer of reality series, factual entertainment formats and documentaries, with the company boasting strong channel relationships throughout the market.

They’re also our 800th customer -- a big milestone for Flex Rental Solutions.

Using Flex For Equipment Inventory Management

Technical Director, David Gibbs, talked to us about how he uses Flex for broadcast equipment inventory management to track and manage the tools that make the creative process possible.  Half Yard has not always owned a lot of production equipment.  In the early days it relied on rentals but as it has grown so too has its inventory of gear.  As Technical Director a large part of Gibbs’ job is building and equipment inventory management Half Yard’s equipment.  “While we don’t do out of house rentals, we are essentially a gear rental house for our own productions,” said Gibbs.  Adding, “Flex has become an indispensable management tool that lets us schedule, track, maintain and do cost reporting for our gear.”

Finding the right equipment inventory management

After using other rental management software at previous companies, he became frustrated with the lack of functionality and difficulty of use. When he took the role at Half Yard Productions he was determined to find the right broadcast equipment inventory management software. Through online research he became very interested in Flex.  Gibbs recalls, “It seemed like the perfect system.”  He asked his friends at DC Camera, a local camera rental house, what they used and to his surprise they too had similar experiences and had recently switched to Flex.

“So I naturally asked them what they thought and they said it was the best business decision they had ever made.  If that is not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is,” exclaimed Gibbs.

The next day Gibbs was setting up an account with Flex and has been using it for several months.  His favorite thing about Flex?

“It's definitely the flexibility.  You can literally make it do whatever you want and its easy and intuitive.  I think it would be a great system for an entry level company up to more sophisticated warehouse based fulfillment company.”

After getting the base inventory up and running Gibbs began exploring some of the other equipment inventory management features from Flex.  One Half Yard’s goals is to start billing our productions for the gear they use.  This starts with giving a production team a quote so they can budget appropriately.

“I love how Flex builds quotes,” said Gibbs.  When you drag and drop an item onto the quote it creates its own heading from the group it came from and creates a subtotal for that group.  Anything else coming from that group automatically gets added in and applied to the corresponding subtotal.  When an item from a new group gets added, a new category and subtotal is created.

“Simply brilliant,” added Gibbs.  “Want to move stuff around or reorder it.  No problem,” exclaimed Gibbs.

Using maintenance and virtual packages

Gibbs has also started using the maintenance features to track repairs and gear health.  “There are times when gear comes back with reports of intermittent problems that cannot be duplicated.  A lot of times it is operator error, but we also don’t want to send gear back into the field if it is not working properly.  Flex allows us to track this.  It is a great way to keep an active history of your gear so you know exactly what is happening with it.”

When you ask Gibbs about his favorite feature he gets very excited.

“Its definitely the the ability to build virtual packages.  Any item can automatically have all its accessories associated with it.  Then I can build a package of gear that gets frequently reused.  I can name it and give it a cost.  Then when I throw it on a quote all the child items automatically get pulled out onto the quote with a simple drag and drop of one item.  Simply fantastic.”

For Gibbs it's all about speed and functionality.  “I love the ease of use.  In previous systems the setup process was very important.  Once you determined where items lived you were pretty locked in.  With Flex you're not locked into anything.  You can move items wherever and whenever you want.  It’s a folder based system so you just drag and drop.  It just makes sense.”

For Half Yard Productions, fiscal accountability is an important part of their operations.  Flex gives them a way to track the macro and micro levels of how their gear is being used.  Gibbs is excited to dig more into the reporting side of Flex to more accurately access costs and margins.

Moving forward Gibbs plans on continuing to hone the system.  “Some processes work well out of the gate and others need to be refined.  Luckily Flex is good at adapting.  If I implement a process or information set that I don’t like, I simply change it.”

“So what’s in a name?” asks Gibbs.  “Apparently in this case, everything.”</p?

Welcome aboard Half Yard Productions!