Don’t complain to Tom Peters, president of Applied Visual Communications (AVC), about demanding, high-pressure integration clients. The Herndon, Va.-based firm recently completed an overhaul of InfoComm International’s training facility.
The new facility, which began hosting training in October 2012, provides the audio, video and automation backdrop as the industry’s leading trainers impart best practices for audio, video and automation.
No pressure there!
It was “a little intimidating,” says Robert Capozello, the A/V systems engineer who led the project for AVC.
As an integrator, “your client shouldn’t have to be an expert; we’re the experts,” Peters points out. “In this case, these are the people who are teaching it, [creating] a whole different mindset. [It’s] sort of like trying to sell tires to a tire dealer.”
It’s safe to say InfoComm’s process of selecting an integrator is unique. The Fairfax, Va.-based trade organization had gotten to know its neighbor AVC over the years. Peters, a former InfoComm Board member, had served as president in 2005.
AVC’s staff of 41 employees “runs at 90 percent CTS,” according to Peters. “We’re committed to best practices and standards,” he says. “Every technician or sales employee must have at least basic CTS. We’re very active and involved with InfoComm and training and certification.”
Capozello, an InfoComm Certified Technology Specialist-Design (CTS-D) himself, seems to have enjoyed the rather unique challenge.
Pitching the design for the design-build project, he jokes, was “kind of like presenting a doctoral thesis.”
InfoComm trainers had a lot of specific requests, Peters says. A big part of the design process was “trying to balance everybody’s requirements, dreams and absolutely ‘gotta haves.’”
The process was interesting from a design perspective, Capozello says, simply because InfoComm was more involved and offered far more input “than any other job I’ve worked on,” he says, emphasizing that the input was welcomed.
“It was better because we got input from actual end users,” Capozello says. “Typically, you get feedback from those handling the money, not the people who will be using the room. So the end user input helped.”
In some ways, it sounds like InfoComm proved to be a dream integration client. Once the tidal wave of initial input was complete and the design had been agreed upon, “there wasn’t a lot of second-guessing,” Peters says. “Consensus building was an interesting process. It was good. It’s a sanity check, a mental challenge, having to justify it to another expert.”