December 03, 2012 By D. Craig MacCormack
AVC is CI’s second annual Integrator of the Year, following in AVI-SPL’s big footsteps. Check back throughout December for more Integrator of the Year coverage.
We’ve all heard, and perhaps heeded, advice against going into business with a family member or friend. Tom and Carole Peters had heard “the horror stories” too when they decided six years ago to open Applied Visual Communications (AVC).
Tom had more than 30 years of experience in the systems integration space and Carole brought production experience in distance learning and training, so “we came from different perspectives.”
Still, they both understood the risks, not only financially, but personally as well when they decided to open their own company.
“It’s a pretty harrowing experience,” says Tom. “You’re throwing a lot of money, equity and commitment into a small business. Because we were in the industry for a long time, we learned a lot of what not to do. That’s one of the reasons we try to draw in significant people to work with us.”
Among those “significant people” is Will Seifert, VP of technology at AVC, and technically its second employee after Tom as president, as Carole was transitioning from her old job to new one before officially joining AVC as CEO a few months after it launched.
The company has made strong inroads in a short amount of time, capitalizing on long-term industry relationships, a unique training program and dedication to making sure the job is done right to become Commercial Integrator’s 2012 Integrator of the Year.
CI Snapshot: AVC
Primary Location: Herndon, Va.
Principals: Carole A. Peters, CEO; Thomas D. Peters, president; Will Seifert, VP of technology; Andrew Thorup, director of integration; Bob Thornton, director of services
Total Revenues: $16 million in 2011
Years in Business: 6
Commercial Installs in 2011: 115
Top 3 Vertical Markets: Corporate, Higher Ed, Healthcare
Top 6 Brands: Cisco, Crestron, Extron, AMX, Christie, Middle Atlantic
FYI: “My company does relationship-building and customer service better than any other company.”
AVC officially opened after Peters purchased the East Coast office of Integrated Media Systems in September 2006 and rebranded it. He had spent more than two years as the company’s east regional VP.
“With the background both Carole and I had in the industry, we had a track record with most of the major manufacturers that was decades old,” says Tom. “That was huge.” Not only that, but Peters also served as an InfoComm International board member from 2002 to 2008, spending 2005 as president.
Perhaps AVC’s ultimate secret to success and selection as Integrator of the Year is Tom’s long-held philosophy that business owners must “hire people of consequence and empower them to do their jobs.” It’s a credo he heard before starting AVC but it fits him to this day.
Seifert joined Peters at AVC after meeting him “in a past life” because he liked the idea of focusing on client needs over raking in the bucks, although AVC has certainly been successful in that area too, with $16 million in revenue in 2011.