Full-service event production company puts people first.
Landers Collins created his company’s logo design in 1987 while in high school. The logo hasn’t changed since then, but Collins and his company, Landers’ Visions, has grown and adapted with the times to become one of Kansas City’s premier full-service event production companies.
In his youth, Collins never envisioned himself becoming an entrepreneur.
“I wasn’t interested in going into business for myself,” says Collins, who attended the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.
Collins’ father was a banker and that was the career his son was destined to enter except for a key realization.
“I wasn’t good at math,” Collins says.
Instead, he took classes in landscape architecture, interior design and related courses, eventually enrolling in the university’s architectural program. One of Collins’ professors in the program told him about Amy Truff, a former student who worked for an event company. At one point, the company did $7-9 million in annual business and planned 150 events per year. Collins contacted Truff and landed a job in the event planning field after college.
“We only had pen and paper back then. No internet,” Collins says. “I learned how to do events, working with florists, linen services, and other vendors.”
Collins has mounted pen-and-paper drawings of past event floor plans displayed on his office walls in Riverside. These old-school methods obviously pre-date the use of computers, but also testify to his innate art and design instincts. When Truff retired, Collins launched his own business, applied the skills and lessons he acquired and learned to survive in a tough, competitive industry. Today, Landers’ Visions produces about 150 events per year, primarily in Kansas City as well as select regional events.
Since those early days, Collins has invested in modern sound, lighting, technology, chandeliers, staging and other gear that fill a warehouse. Landers’ Visions provides full-service sound, lighting, video systems, set design, floral arrangements, stages and dance floors, water features and much more. Collins and his team excel at consulting, executing and creating an experience that is memorable and minimizes stress for the client.
“We are strong in creating a look and theme through lighting and design,” Collins says. “Our designs have been copied a lot.”
More often than not, clients signal from the outset that they have a tight budget. Collins addresses that concern from the start.
“We are not focused on pricing,” he says. “We take the call, meet at my office, the client’s office or venue, and share ideas first. Then we draft a contract with options and send it to the client.”
The contract’s options cover the client’s requests and needs, plus event-planning components they may not have considered such as adding curb appeal to a gala, upgrading the sound system or addressing power supply issues. The experience of Landers’ Visions is offered as a resource to make planning and the event itself a smooth process. The portfolio of Landers’ Visions also touts how dramatic and engaging his event designs can be.
“We blend their operations and efforts with our thoughts,” Collins says. “We’re resourceful about using metal, wood, plexiglass and other materials. We offer branding and video playback, the perfect video at the perfect time. We let the client talk and we listen.”
As a veteran event producer, Collins has established strong relationships with his clients over time. That relationship-building has bolstered his company’s longevity and repeat business.
“We get along well with our clientele,” Collins says. “They trust us and we receive great referrals as a result. We invite our clients to attend and view other client events we do. That’s made us highly successful. I’ve done 3,500 shows to date.”
Collins speaks with a soft accent that reflects his Southern heritage. He relays his background and philosophical approach to doing business in a steady conversational stream.
“We’re a quiet, private company,” Collins says. “We’re calm and polite. I operate with an open book management style. I tell my employees to be professional, smile, be on time and look out for the client. We pick up that piece of paper on the floor even if it isn’t our job. At every event, there are three clients. The venue, the client we’re working with, and the potential client that attends the event and sees what we do.”
This heads-up, “anyone may be a customer” approach keeps the staff of Landings’ Vision on its toes.
Landers’ Vision has worked with former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver and civic, corporate and nonprofit leaders throughout Kansas City. The list of past projects includes events for the revival of 18th and Vine, the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay with three-time Olympian Jim Ryun, Treads and Threads, Wayside Waifs’ Fur Ball and countless weddings, galas, and private events.
Kansas City Life Insurance is the firm’s oldest client. The client list reads like a who’s who of Kansas City: Catholic Charities, Harvest Ball Society, Argenta Community Theater, Wayside Waifs, Hope House, Kansas City Chiefs, Argosy Casino, Fox 4 News, University of Kansas Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital Fund. The company also works closely with churches and schools in the community including Avila University, Rockhurst High School and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Landers’ Vision works closely with area hotels and a network of local vendors, including florists such as Trapp and Company, Lon Lane Inspired Occasions and Fiddly Fig. Landers’ Visions also partners with companies that specialize in complementary services as needed.
“We work with our competition,” Collins says. “Sometimes we need them. Sometimes they need us.” Collins finds it’s easier to do business when he’s “friends with our allies.”
Collins’ mother was Baptist. He’s a Methodist. His son is being raised as a Catholic. Collins’ upbringing in Arkansas and values reinforce his actions and outlook. Giving back to the community is second nature on a personal and professional basis, especially when working with charitable and community-based organizations.
“The Nigro Brothers [and Legacy Auctions] does a good job of raising money for charities and organizations,” says Collins.
He has learned from this example and finds ways to work with clients where their mission and needs aligns with his values.
Despite the flashy events that Landers’ Visions produces to stunning effect, Collins himself keeps a low profile with a small staff at his Riverside office.
“I mind my manners. I pay my taxes,” Collins says. “I’ve built this business by working 100 hours a week. Now I’ve hired a few people to help instead of doing it all myself. I work 75 hours a week.”
Collins shares one more piece of advice that he drills into his team.
“If a job needs eight lights, I tell them to pack 10,” he says. “Always bring extra and overpack for the job.”
When something unplanned happens at a carefully planned event – because everyone is human and unexpected occurrences do happen – Collins and his team are prepared. After all, the show must go on.