Stephen Brown, president of Central Florida's Resource Group AV, spent the beginning of his career in England doing general AV work and large scale production. In 1996, Brown came to the U.S. to found his company and attack a niche market that was untapped at the time.
When Brown came to the U.S., he found an area of the industry was severely untouched by the staging industry, the religious market. It seems odd nowadays that a market as profitable for stagers as the religious niche could be overlooked, but as Brown explained, this was the case. "There was a lot of work out there that wasn't being gone after in the production end of Christian conferences and other events. Everyone else was going after the big companies like IBM. We started off doing the religious market's conferences and they snowballed. We found that niche market and developed it, and now we do major festivals in the 100,000 plus attendees for some of our clients on a regular basis."
Resource Group eventually pushed its work into other markets, touching on its success with religious groups to get bigger clientele. Brown noted, "We still service a high percentage of people in the religious market, but we have corporate clients like Southern Comfort or Budweiser, which is a very different feel and a different feel than working with religious clientele."
Working with corporate clients opened up the need for more sophisticated gear, as Brown recalled. "In the past, mainstream general market clients had large corporate budgets, so their expectation levels were quite high and they wanted the latest gear. Nowadays they do their research. A lot of them have meeting planners and directors that take care of a lot of the details."
The need for better gear has begun to trickle down into the religious market, much to Resource Group's advantage. Brown expended, "I'm seeing an increase in the religious markets for better gear that is beginning to catch on. The days of, 'how cheap can you do this?' is going away. They're realizing that there's a lot of technology out there they can use to present their message. There's been a tremendous catch-up in what's available to these groups. But I think a lot of that has to do with plummeting costs of gear."
Since the price of gear continues to drop, Resource Group takes a lot of time to find the best and latest gear that will service its clients. "You have to follow what the companies are bringing out," said Brown. "You have to keep updated, read press releases, get involved, and get hands on. We look for new techniques and gear for the production market and we put out search bots on the internet to keep up on what's released. We also look to see how we can implement everything into our inventory to see how clients can use the new technology."
To find out how his company can better serve clients, Brown spends a lot of time just talking to them. He explained, "We evaluate every piece of gear that comes out heavily. We look to see how the equipment would be used with the client base we have and the client base we're looking to work with. Most of the time we use SD video, but we can do HD. We are tailoring our purchases toward where our clients are going. We have a lot of discussions with clients, and we have a lot of repeat business clients. In those discussions we can hear where they're trying to go in the future."
Looking ahead, Resource Group has a lot of plans for expansion and new technology, as Brown noted. "With our growth and patents, we're looking to open up somewhere else. We've done a lot of work on the West coast, so I think that's something we've begun to look at. That's where some of our clients are and we want to be able to service them in their areas."