We love festivals. We love them so much we wrote a software system for managing them. More on that later, but as we enter June, the number and variety of festivals that happen across the US sky rockets.

We’ll be talking about festivals often over the summer, but we recently ran across a great list that identified the largest festival in each state. So, while we gather great stories about smaller local festivals we’ll highlight, we decided to get to know more about the big guys and share a couple that are near and dear to us.

Our home state of Pennsylvania hosts Musikfest in Bethlehem from August 1 – 11. Voted Best Music Festival in the USA Today Reader’s Choice Awards in 2019, more than 1.1 million people crowd into this historic city near Allentown to hear music – free and paid – over the course of ten days. It claims to be the largest free music festival, but it also features comedy and dance performances and a series of art installations. Some say it might be the best bargain of all summer events.


As we expanded into North Carolina, we began looking for the biggest event in our new state. We assumed it was the Azalea Festival in Wilmington. But no … it’s not flowers but food that draws southerners. The North Carolina Barbecue Festival is in Lexington, which falls between the Triangle and the Triad. Lexington has a population of about 20,000 – which blossoms 10-fold when chefs from across NC converge to demonstrate their BBQ acumen. It all happens in just one day – the last Saturday in October – but is a culmination of an entire month of BBQ festivities. A series of competitions, from the Tour de Pig cycling race to golf, fishing tournaments and a 5K run keep people flowing into town.

What these two festivals have in common is their reliance on volunteers. From planners to ushers, parking to ticket sales and set up/clean up, volunteers are what makes festivals work. That’s why so many organizers are turning to our newest software product, Chute Festival. It not only manages the schedules for volunteers, but it manages the information they come in contact with.

Who are your vendors? What’s the map of the site look like? Where are the closest parking options? And how do you manage your performers, livestock, and food?

Often, it’s in the heads of those who volunteer. But with Chute Festival, organizers keep the data that remains in the minds of volunteers. Volunteers come and go – they are committed, until they’re not. In order to keep the information about every last detail, it needs to reside – accessibly – in the Cloud so that future events run as smoothly as the last.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Chute Festival can help, email us at info@chutefestival.com

Follow #PSSolutions on social media
LinkedIn | 
Twitter | 
Facebook

Strummer Bob Fields Heads Up Sales in Pittsburgh

When you’ve been serving the IT industry since 1981, have deep roots in your region and throughout the Midwest, and, to quote Chuck Berry, can play guitar like ringin’ a bell, well, you’re bound to be a rockin’ success.

PS Solutions’ Robert (Bob) Fields may have taken a brief hiatus from IT during the Y2K hangover, but we’ll forgive him for that and chalk up 35 years to his investment in the tech industry. He actually started in IT recruiting for an IT consulting firm, but they soon uncovered his true talent.

“I still remember the day, sitting in Pittsburgh, when I sold the highest billing rate for a consultant in the history of the company to a client in Washington, DC,” reminisces Fields. “I found that I really enjoyed the sales side of the house and spent the next ten years with that company advancing in that role.”

He joined PS Solutions in November of 2015. It was a great fit from the get-go, with IT services and the oft-desired tech recruitment. Earlier positions with big companies kept pigeon-holing him into doing things he was good at but didn’t love. He loved account management and the people/problem solving balance it offered. And that’s the role he was looking for.

“Moving to PS Solutions gave me that opportunity,” he said. “It also provided a bit of a homecoming back to a more agile, entrepreneurial, smaller, quality-oriented, regional IT consulting firm. The strong values make such a difference, in my happiness and in the satisfaction of our clients.”

The Bob Special Sauce

What is it, really, about being an account manager that Bob loves? It’s solving problems for the people within the companies he serves. When we asked him why he thought he excelled, he told us it came down to one thing:

“I listen,” he said. “Many people are too quick to talk, to sell what they want to sell. But if you develop the skill of listening, you’re more certain to understand what is needed. If you have listened, your questions are much more on point, and the client knows that you get it.”

Of course, you have to get to that meeting, right? The one where you get to listen? Opening that door can be a tough nut to crack.

“I have been told by clients that they have given us a chance because of my persistence. In some cases, it was persistence over the space of years,” he says with a smile.

The Band Behind the Man

He may have spent his first three years in Erie, but Bob’s a Pittsburgher through and through. In high school he fell in love with writing, and only became a guitar player at 17, once he realized he would like to be able to play the music he wrote. Like every good teenage guitar player, he formed a band, and like every good sales person, he stays in touch. After all these years, and across a myriad of time zones, Bob stays in touch with different members of the band.

Even with more than 30 years of teaching, recording and live performances under his belt, Bob still finds the magic of playing for a crowd. At one particular performance at PPG Paints Arena, PPG Place, he performed for about 500 people during a summer arts festival. “It’s like a glass castle, and when you catch it at sunset, with fountains reflecting the colors, it’s just magical.”

Sometimes it seems that magic is his middle name. It’s actually Boyle, however, which leads him to play a lot of Irish tunes. This means that St. Patrick’s week can be especially busy, as he tries to give back to people of all ages. He developed a way to use new music technology, using a loop pedal to record and play rhythm parts and guitar synthesizer to represent the bass, fiddle, bagpipes, pennywhistle and other instruments. He involves his audience, looping in the seniors at retirement homes and the partakers at the bars. And getting them to sing along is half the fun!

He especially enjoys serving the underserved. “It brings validity to what you’re doing. When you’re playing music it’s not about you – it’s what can you do for others.”

You’ll often find him playing in contemporary music services at church, but he can play classical, rock and folk. He finds what his audience is hungry to hear, and that’s what he delivers.

You could say that Bob is a listener and a problem solver, whether he’s at work or performing. It’s what makes him great at what he does, at home with this family, in the clients’ offices, or on the stage. To Bob, what you can do to make others’ lives more rich is the thing to do.

Follow #PSSolutions on social media
LinkedIn | 
Twitter | 
Facebook

Trevor Hughes Joins the PS Solutions Wilmington Team

PS Solutions has increased their Wilmington headcount… and it’s about to get much bigger if Trevor Hughes has anything to say about it.

After five years in sales and business development for technology companies and recruiters, Trevor is putting his love of helping individuals and businesses achieve success to work for PS Solutions. Most recently with Proficient Learning, one of Inc. 5000’s fastest growing companies in 2018, he’s anxious to put the Wilmington office of PS Solutions on the tip of every North Carolina company’s tongue. After all, PS Solutions was also on the Inc. list before they opened the Wilmington office two years ago. He’d like to seem them regain that listing in the next year or two.

“It’s exciting to be in a position to help young companies grow, especially focusing on the Cape Fear region,” said Hughes. “I’m researching all the companies from startups to those over $2 million in annual revenue, because that is where I think the software development services offered by PS Solutions can have the greatest impact.”

Hughes will be focusing on three areas: recruiting technology talent; connecting PS Solutions’ developers with companies that need custom software; and promoting a new software product that the company is launching this spring, called Chute Festival.
“I was drawn to the position because I love recruiting and selling technology solutions; both are needed in our region,” he said. “It’s rare to have a chance to also help launch a new product, so I’m really excited to reach out to the festivals across the southeast, too.”

Chute Festival is a Cloud-based service that makes it easier for people who run fairs and festivals to be more efficient, managing their vendors, customers, team and invoicing. PS Solutions is officially introducing it this spring, with Hughes being at the center of the sales activities. He pointed to the incredible number of festivals in the Carolinas as a huge opportunity.

When not networking, you’ll likely find Hughes where you find so many of Wilmington’s transplants: on the beach. Along with surfing, Hughes is a competitive open water swimmer. He regularly competes in the Pier to Pier swim on Wrightsville Beach, and takes part in the Swim the Loop event, which is 3 ½ miles of open water.

“Like most people who choose to make Wilmington their home, I’m really excited to help keep it a great place to live,” said Hughes. He has two sons with his wife, who is a special education teacher in a Topsail Elementary School.

“Wilmington is a great place to raise a family. We see more and more people choosing to want to live where they vacation, and the quality of life here is outstanding. I’m looking forward to helping PS Solutions offer more people a high standard of living through technology.”

PS Solutions takes a creative approach to solving companies’ technology problems, employing a diverse group of software and project management professionals to keep software development in the USA. They focus on growing cities as a way to keep costs down without having to off-shore.

For more information, contact info@PSSolutions.net

Follow #PSSolutions on social media
LinkedIn | 
Twitter | 
Facebook

Trade shows, County fairs. Film festivals. Street fairs. Flea Markets. Job fairs.

Events like these are a compendium of thousands of details. Vendors, payments, marketing, invoicing… keeping it all organized and easily accessible can be exhausting.

PS Solutions to the rescue! We’ve recently released our own vendor management system, and we call it Chute – as in, parachute – because it eases your entry into the event. We were working with a Pennsylvania County Fair which faced problems when volunteers left the organization. The result was increased difficulty tracking and managing billings. The team at PS Solutions saw an opportunity to help event managers across the country easily organize, communicate about and manage their interaction with vendors.

Here are just a few things we took into consideration when creating our event management system for festivals:

A Bird’s Eye View: Event maps

Chute Festival provides you with a computerized interactive version of your festival or fairground layout. It’s easier than ever to determine which spaces are still are rented and quickly pinpoint where each vendor will reside. Of course, it’s also easier to show which spaces are open and left to be sold, allowing you to quickly close the deal. Vendor reservations are laid out in color, making it a snap to identify who’s where.

Better Communication: Email Systems

Keep up communications with potential, current and even former vendors through our simple email management system that ties directly to the data in your system.

Get Paid Faster: Cloud-based Invoicing

Let Chute Festival take the stress out of billing. Generate customized Invoices on the fly to track and manage payments and accounts. With a few clicks, you can generate all invoices for a given event. And all the information is tied back to each vendor, giving you greater insight into where you stand financially.

And if you use a different accounting – or event database — package, that’s no problem either. Chute provides easy export into PDF, .xls and CSV. With only a few clicks you can export an entire section of data in a pain-free process.

Always On: Cloud-based Software

There are so many advantages to having a cloud-hosted software solution. For example:

No Limits: Host Scores of Events

We don’t believe in capping your creativity or your success. So, go ahead. Host two events this year. Or three. Even if you want to expand your mapping footprint or layout, the costs for new maps are available at extremely low rates, allowing you to expand or reorganize without worrying about excessive costs. Whether you host one event or a dozen there are no caps when you use Chute Festival to manage your projects.

Feel confident. As you grow, Chute Festival will grow with you.

Want to learn more about how Chute can help you? Connect with us at info@chutefestival.com

Follow #PSSolutions on social media
LinkedIn | 
Twitter | 
Facebook


Wilmington, NC – April 9, 2019 — PS Solutions, a software development firm with offices in Wilmington, NC, as well as Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA, last month released a new app designed to help identify those at risk for committing suicide which utilizes the renowned Columbia Protocol. This free smartphone app provides instant access to simple questions which have been successful in helping identify suicide risk. Blair County, PA was the first to develop an app using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) and provide local contact information to nearby crisis centers. The app is now offered in North Carolina and can be customized to connect directly to local crisis centers.

“North Carolina’s suicide rate is higher than the national average,” said Wayne Hippo, co-founder of PS Solutions. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to bring this free app to the attention of our citizens and those who serve this community. It’s a way to help members of our community who need it most.”

The free iOS and Android app provides access to the C-SSRS, which prompts a few simple questions that gauge when an individual is at risk for suicide then recommends an appropriate level of mental health support. The list of questions can be answered within a few minutes. App users are also offered contact information for crisis centers, which can be customized to include local contacts.

“We need to get everyone in our communities asking these questions,” said Dr. Kelly Posner, Director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project, “Just think of how many lives we can save if every parent, police officer, teacher and neighbor downloaded and used this app.”

More than 20 years of research validates relevance and effectiveness of the C-SSRS. Seen as the gold standard in assessing suicide risk, it is globally. For people who have thought about suicide, simply being asked these questions can come as a relief. One study found that asking the questions reduced distress in depressed respondents.

According to a March 2019 study conducted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the increase in the national suicide rate from 2016 to 2017 was the largest annual increase in nearly 20 years. Suicides rose by 4% from 2016 to 2017 and 22% from 2008 to 2017. Worldwide, almost 1 million people die by suicide each year; one life lost every 40 seconds.

The idea for the app came from Blair County Pennsylvania, and it is the first county to offer customized local information. Other regions are encouraged to provide local crisis centers contact information, which is based on a user’s phone location. Information on app customization is available through email: info@PSSolutions.net.

PS Solutions is a software development firm headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with offices in Pittsburgh and Wilmington, North Carolina. PS Solutions takes a creative approach to solving companies’ technology problems, employing a diverse group of software and project management professionals to develop software in the U.S.

Follow #PSSolutions on social media
LinkedIn | 
Twitter | 
Facebook


Pittsburgh Tech Council

FIND OUT MORE


Altoona Development Center
1601 Eleventh Avenue
Ste. 201
Altoona, PA, 16601
814-942-7888

Pittsburgh Development Center
1500 Ardmore Boulevard
Ste. 500
Pittsburgh, PA, 15221
412-731-2123

Wilmington Development Center
2109 Capital Drive
Ste. 170
Wilmington, NC, 28405
910-399-6820