Stagehands, LLC

Local businessman Rusty Hardy’s company, Stagehands, LLC, currently employs nearly 20 people in the Malvern area.

There are several industries Malvern and Hot Spring County are known for; bricks, timber and aluminum, to name a few. But besides the occasional celebrity to come out of our neck of the woods, Malvern has made itself very important to the entertainment business in central Arkansas.

Rusty Hardy started Stagehands, LLC in 2015 after rocking the boat in Little Rock’s stagehand scene. Hardy had been the business agent for the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 204 for about 20 years. With his company headquartered in his hometown of Malvern, Hardy operates in Little Rock, Hot Springs and all over the surrounding area.

The company sets up live events, including concerts, plays, trade shows, graduations and many more.

After sounding the alarm on certain business practices in Local 204, Hardy was kicked out of the union. He filed an appeal to the international and was reinstated and followed up with a suit with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the local and won.

Little Rock Stage Group (LRSG) is a company that began as a payroll company for Local 204. After some time, LRSG began to hold contracts and agreements of their own to take charge of the local, which is the basis for Hardy’s suit. IATSE locals are intended to support every stagehand and production company evenly and show no favoritism, yet that’s exactly what the NLRB found in Local 204.

“I almost feel a debt of gratitude to Richard Hall and Buster Lewis,” said Hardy. “Because of their bullying practices toward me Stagehands, LLC was formed and is doing well today.”

Richard Hall was the President of Local 204 at the time and Buster “Buck” Lewis is the CEO of LRSG. Hardy managed to secure several contracts early on to get his crew to work, including Little Rock’s Robinson Center.

“All of our workers are considered casual or part time,” said Hardy. “Our employee numbers are dictated by the numbers the incoming shows request with some Broadway shows requesting as many as 100 or more. We currently have about 18 team members from Malvern and surrounding areas. We are always willing to add more members to our call list as long as they have a strong work ethic and want to work together as a team.”

This course of events caused a rift in Little Rock entertainment, forcing many to pick sides. And some still became “double dippers,” working for both LRSG and Stagehands, LLC. Younger union stagehands especially are discouraged from joining Hardy’s crew, while more seasoned members can often get away with it.

“I started working as a stagehand in the mid 1980’s and became an IATSE member in January 1990,” said Hardy. “I supported IATSE for many years, winning labor agreements with many companies on their behalf. I’m still a member of Local 204 and a proud member of Local 69 of Memphis. I still support local 204 and proudly employ many of their members. 204 and LRSG still try to intimidate members not to work with us.”

With Stagehands, LLC and several stagehands calling Malvern and Hot Spring County home, it’s likely that the next big event you go to in central Arkansas could be thanks to them.

“After I was reinstated to local 204,” Hardy said. “Some members approached me about dissolving Stagehands, LLC of which I vehemently declined to do so.”

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