Company Story

It was crunch time — seven days before the grand opening of the Celebrity Theatre at Dollywood. The theater was to be the crown jewel of the park and everyone was excited about this, the largest project to date. As always on a construction site, the last few days had too much scheduled and not enough time. The park owned construction company was overwhelmed and I was beginning to share the feeling. I tried to insist that the construction in our areas be completed so that we could proceed, but management felt they had larger, more problematic tasks at hand.

The supervisor informed me that our areas, the house mix position and the stage floor, would be inaccessible during the next four days. This was where we needed to be, not having access to these areas would make our job impossible. With great resignation he told us that was the way it would be. I had no intention of failing. Each person in my crew agreed to work at night to finish the project. From 6pm to 7am we soldered, wired, rigged and loaded.

We had contracted to have the theater empty for two days prior to opening for testing and tuning the sound system. I spoke with the supervisor to make sure we would have the theater Thursday and Friday for testing. He said we could, as long as the painters could work in there too. I agreed to the terms and so at 7:00am Thursday morning, after working through the night, we stayed for testing and tuning.

We were tired and beyond ragged, but our spirits were high, for this is our favorite part of our work. To energize the system for the first time and tune it into accurate, beautiful harmony is an absolute joy. We were going to make our deadline, we were going to succeed.

After working for only two hours, the manager of the entertainment department strolled in and announced his intentions to use the theater for training for the next two days. We had to have the room to ourselves to finish the job, but he didn’t care about our situation, his boss wanted the room. So we kept working under the worst of conditions. We set up temporary microphones for instructors and gave them use of the theater all while testing and tuning the system to make it ready for the opening. Dolly was arriving this afternoon and her show was scheduled in less than 24 hours.

The lights dimmed and the fans stood and cheered. "How are y’all doing tonight?" Dolly yelled. The crowed cheered and clapped some more as the band started playing. The sound system sounded as if we had tested and tuned for weeks. Dolly would sound good singing through the telephone, but that night with the new sound system, she was truly awesome.

As I was leaving the park a week later, the long time purchasing manager for the park approached me. "I want to say something to you," he said. "You did the best job under the worst conditions that I have ever seen. You’re the best subcontractor we have hired at this park, bar none."

Not counting the kiss from Dolly, that was the best reward I had ever received. That day I realized I could build a business doing what I loved.

— Don Fillers