TAMPA, FL-Martin Schaffel, executive chairman for AVI-SPL, was recently recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Entrepreneur of the Year award in lifetime achievement from the University of Florida (UF).
Schaffel was among those honored on Thursday, April 23, as the university paid tribute to successful entrepreneurs and business students during their S. Clark Butler Entrepreneur Awards, held at the Hilton UF Conference Center. Schaffel graduated from UF with both a BS in Business Administration and a BA in Public Administration.
Schaffel founded legacy company Audio Visual Innovations, Inc. (AVI) in 1979 in Lakeland, FL. Corporate headquarters were moved to Tampa in 1981. Having grown the organization to 20 offices nationwide, Schaffel led AVI and it top competitor, Signal Perfection Ltd. (SPL), into a merger in April 2008. The merger was supported by equity financing from Silver Lake Sumeru, the middle-market group of Silver Lake, the leading investment firm focused on technology-driven growth industries.
Today, AVI-SPL is the largest global integrator for audio video technology, comprehensive audiovisual solutions, and managed conferencing systems and services, with over 1,400 employees and revenues approaching half a billion dollars. “It’s important to change and grow to survive,” said Schaffel. “An entrepreneur must be able to sell his vision to his employees, turn entrepreneurs loose inside their business, and work to help others to succeed, as this will help to make you successful.”
In addition to this latest achievement, Schaffel is also affiliated with numerous industry-related organizations. He is on the Board of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the Board of Directors for North Star Bank in Tampa, Berkeley Preparatory School, and the Executive Committee of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida -College of Business. He also guest lectures at the University of Florida, and is on the Board of Directors of Prospect Smarter and DataPros for Healthcare, two Tampa-based technology firms.