The Self-Made Man: Gary Solomon, Jr.
Let’s take a break from the tech sector this week to talk about, uh, tech. A different kind of tech, though. Theatre tech and stage production are an entirely different beast than starting a website, with huge start-up costs and manpower requirements. One can’t just start a physical production company in one’s garage; you need space and people and materials to get something like that off the ground.
That’s what makes Solomon Group and its founder, Gary Solomon Jr., so impressive, because Gary put together his start-up just a few years ago and he’s already done some pretty amazing things.
It’s also refreshing to see an under-30 millionaire who still looks awkward in press photos.
Anyway, Gary was born and raised in New Orleans and, after getting a degree in stage production from NYU (specifically the Tisch School for the Arts, where Lady Gaga also went to school), he returned to Old Swampy with a team of professionals and started the After the Storm Foundation a post-Katrina art and service project that helps community centers throughout the city. The Foundation also produced a documentary and a full-length musical.
From there, Gary started his Solomon Group, a production company that handles all aspects of a multimedia project in-house, from the initial concept to the design to the construction. Their first job was recreating Stage Door Canteen for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Solomon put together a documentary and a live show, and also integrated the A/V and control systems.
The company’s next big project, and the one that really established them, was designing and installing the Superdome’s LED lighting system. They also did tech for the most recent Super Bowl, and hopefully were not responsible for the power going out right after halftime.
Solomon’s company continues to grow, and now they’re doing work for companies outside of New Orleans. Solomon, for his part, pretty much never turns down work and likes to keep his workload as varied as possible, and his loyalty to Sweet Lady Gumbo says a lot of good things about him.
That’s the thing about being a self made man; you can really do it anywhere. Despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to move to New York or Los Angeles to make something of yourself. It’s entirely possible to stay rooted in a community you love and care about and work to improve it as you build your own career. As Solomon’s movie theater chain-owning grandfather said, “when you have the financial ability to do what you want for yourself, you have to do it for other people.”
About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.