An audience with the 2020 Inavation Awards Project Manager of the Year
Andrea Piemonti is the 2020 Inavation Award’s Project Manager of the Year. Anna Mitchell finds out more about his career and managing the gargantuan project that landed him this prestigious accolade.
Andrea Piemonti demonstrates just how far passion and a thirst for knowledge can take you.
His older brother’s purchase of a nightclub in his native Italy sparked an interest in loudspeakers, lighting and electronics. Working with his sibling on a club renovation, he made his first lighting installation at the age of 11 and up to the age of 14 he worked with local theatres on lighting projects.
An endearing aspect of Piemonti’s journey is that at a young age he saw and heard JBL speakers at fashion designer Alberta Ferretti’s house – Piemonti was friends with her son. Piemonti immediately fell in love with the speakers and begged his dad to buy him a pair. The answer? “Maybe one day you will buy some for yourself.” Piemonti took that one step further, recently installing 4,700 JBL speakers at The Parklane, A Luxury Resort and Spa, Limassol.
But before that, he made his first money from reselling a pair of JBL speakers (that he travelled more than 400km to Milan to buy). After making that first sale, Piemonti announced he would leave school. He was 14 and his understandably concerned mother arranged for him to work with a neighbour. Luckily that neighbour was the owner of lighting company SGM.
Over the years, Piemonti built up a successful business specialising in nightclub installations in Italy and abroad. He met his business partner working in Ayia Napa and together they formed ALA Equipment company (ALA) in Cyprus.
ALA will celebrate its 20th birthday next year and has delivered several global, multi-million-euro projects but Piemonti says there was no serious plan when he formed the company. “It wasn’t intentional, or planned,” he says.
It was however a good move for Piemonti, both in terms of business and a little closer to home. “I met my wife Ellie in Cyprus where she was working in corporate PR and events organisation,” he adds. The couple met through a mutual friend working on developments on the island and they now have three children and still live on the island.
Piemonti has built up an impressive body of work but it was specifically his efforts on the staggering Parklane, A Luxury Resort and Spa, Limassol that bowled over Inavation Awards judges and landed him the 2020 Project Manager of the Year award. A full write up on the resort can be found here. The project demanded huge organisational skill and business acumen as it spiralled in scope and proceeded to dominate more than half a decade of Piemonti’s life.
That’s a tough challenge when it comes to AVL installations; six years is a long time in technology development. However, Piemonti and his team managed to ensure that the most up to date, highest quality and suitable technologies were installed.
Piemonti puts that down to having strong relationships with vendors and a deep knowledge of the technologies they supply. Mutual respect between Piemonti and the vendors he chose meant that he was able to understand their product lifecycles, was made aware of forthcoming technology developments and installed a huge array of bespoke products in the project. It’s worth noting that some of those bespoke technologies are now coming to market as commercially available products, thereby demonstrating the power of the two-way relationships.
Although all brands Piemonti worked with contributed to the success of this project, he reserves a special mention for Extron and the configuration abilities its products offered. “On a project of this scale it radically changed the way we worked,” says Piemonti. “[Remote] configuration and automation gave us a big time saving and allowed us to scale up. The project is immense. You can’t write code for an installation so big.”
The history that Piemonti has with JBL is a useful reminder of the loyalty he has with the brands and companies he sells and installs. It’s no coincidence that the nomination for Piemonti as Project Manager of the Year came with a vast array of heartfelt and positive testimonials from AVL vendors he works with.
And it doesn’t end there. This theme of strong relationships, respect and loyalty extends to how Piemonti was able to successfully steer his team through such a demanding project.
“We are on an island and it means you don’t have access to personnel that you might have elsewhere,” he says. “You really need to take care of your personnel. I’m always saying that ALA is a family, we work together, and we share problems and successes together.”
Piemonti led from the front throughout the project and it was noted that he would invariably be first to site, and last off. He wouldn’t leave an employee working longer than he was willing to himself.
When it came to the client, again mutual respect and loyalty saw them through a project that at times looked like it could overwhelm both parties. “He spent millions of euros and we’re still friends,” jokes Piemonti but it underlines a serious skill.
“To understand a client is an art,” he explains. “You need to deliver what they want when sometimes they don’t even know what they want. You first must gain their trust and there must be chemistry. You sometimes have to say things they don’t want to hear.”
Piemonti also underlines the importance of knowing when to walk away. Over the years there have been clients and projects that he knew he didn’t want to work with and on.
The successful navigation of the demands of Parklane, A Luxury Resort & Spa is an incredible feat. “There were times when the project was a recipe for disaster,” admits Piemonti. But he steered the ship through the sometimes choppy waters, consistently following a robust vision and it paid off.