Image AV CEO and president Diana and Dave Mueller. Image AV celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, an occasion that husband and wife team Dave and Diana Mueller may have not predicted they'd see back in 1988 when Dave first started the company. But with the company's new account at the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver, right across from the Democratic National Convention's future home, Image AV has become a premier staging company for the Rocky Mountains.
In February 1988, Dave, president of Image AV, started working in a hotel doing AV, his office was a converted sleeping room. Starting small, Dave's business grew slow but steady as the years passed. Diana was working in HR while Dave continued to build the business, until in 1998 they decided to balance work and family a bit better and Diana joined her husband at Image as CEO. Dave recalls, "She was there from the beginning really, giving me advice. It was a labor of love from the start."
As the company grew, so did its capabilities. Dave explained, "We started primarily focused on the hospitality market, in-house, and steadily diversified over the years. We added full digital nonlinear video products, including HD, and also added more staging components to do larger corporate events. We have a division that does medical meetings across the country. We do about 75-100 meetings each year. And after 9/11, which was one of the main challenges we encountered, we added a systems integration division that does residential and commercial."
Diana added, "We kept up with the technology that's out there. Everything's going HD now, so we've added HD cameras to our multimedia production. We saw, especially with the advent of 9/11, a lot more people not wanting to travel to meetings, so we've been able to add the Rich media recording.
Mediasite is one of the products we use, so we're actively pushing that. Even with the local events we do, we always offer the ability to stream live to the web or put highlights on later. One of the great things we've been able to do, besides just rental, is multimedia production. We're able to give our clients a turnkey solution to their meetings and I think that staying with that technology on both sides has really given us competitive advantage."
Dave expanded on the company's production abilities, "I think we're one of the only companies in the Rocky Mountains that can produce content as well as being a staging company that can provide equipment for the actual event, so that's kind of created a niche for us."
The Muellers look at the vertical markets they work within as similar but different. Dave said, "Our markets are different in ways and same. When you look at being stretched across vertical markets, our principles of customer service and our approach to the relationships we have are all the same. If you take care of your customers regardless of what you're doing, you're halfway there to success. Across some of the vertical markets, the technology is very similar. When we've started new divisions, we always make sure the people that are there are right for the job, and our management style is more hands off, we don't micromanage, we let them go and do great things."
Image Audiovisuals orchestrated the annual meeting for Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Savannah, Georgia. The event required a flexible, changeable set-up as the d�cor elements were re-configured to allow for different appearances between the general session and the awards dinner. LED color-changing lighting instruments were widely used to give the client unlimited color choices. As an added bonus, the LED lighting provided an eco-friendly solution compared to conventional lighting.
The Muellers attribute their employees' happiness as a part of their success. Dave noted, "Our culture here is very family based. We have a kids' room here. Part of the reason we decided to team up and run this company together was for a quality of life situation. And we kind of extended that to all our employees. So if their kids are off track or off school they can bring their kids to work."
"We've got beanbag chairs and Playstation and such, and it's in an interior room so they're not exposed to clients," Diana added. "We just really believe, as far as our employees, that if it was our kids we'd want them to be taken care of. So that's how we treat them and some people have been with us for a long time. It has worked really well for us and helped made us successful."
While Image's business continues to grow, the Muellers are careful to monitor this growth. Dave explained, "I've always thought we're a company that's grown smartly. One of the concerns with expanding rapidly, is a lot of companies lose their ability to provide the customer service that got them to where they are, and then things go downhill from that standpoint. We've always looked at growth as necessary and have stayed on top of trends, but we grow smartly. We have looked at growing beyond our front range area, but we just need to do that in a way that we can control the service level we provide and still be able to have the relationships we have with our clients."
What keeps Image AV stable is at the base of its operations, as Dave summed up the company. "What made us big was our diversification, but our core has always been rental and staging. With the economy going up and down we've always wanted to insulate ourselves the best we could, but at the same time we stay true to our rental and staging roots.