Oh Thank Heaven

Oh Thank Heaven
(Image credit: AVI-SPL)

The nature of retail requires companies that can adapt to customer needs. In turn, that requires employees who can communicate quickly with one another so they can respond to those needs. For 7-Eleven Store Support Center in Irving, TX, the goal included vastly improved collaboration tools that would empower staff to work efficiently.

“One thing we wanted to do is provide AV technology where people walked in and they said ‘Wow. They’re providing us the right tools to do our jobs,’” said JT Elliott, manager of AV services for 7-Eleven.

With 66,000 convenience stores worldwide, a Store Support Center, and over 30 regional offices in the U.S., the company has a lot on its plate when it comes to developing new market strategies and supporting its franchisees. To support its collaboration efforts, 7-Eleven brought in AVI-SPL—rated number one on SCN’s annual systems integrators list—to design and integrate 100 conference rooms into its new building.

“People spend a lot of time putting their presentations together,” said Elliott. “They should not have to spend a lot of time getting AV to work. They need conference spaces that are agile; they need to be able to schedule fast. They need to be able to react quickly, come together and collaborate.”

AVI-SPL’s involvement began about a year before construction was complete, and included a collaborative design process that involved various teams from 7-Eleven, representing architecture, real estate, AV, and IT.

“Being brought in early allowed us to build those relationships and trust with everybody,” said Austin Figueroa, VP of sales, AVI-SPL.

Figueroa and the team took ideas from different business units and tried to consolidate them into as few and simple systems as possible while abiding by 7-Eleven preferences. “Any input I gave them, they took that to heart and really worked with me and my team to set up the office like we needed it to function,” said Harvey Dewitt, 7-Eleven market manager.

The joint effort led to rooms where the collaboration process would be easy to engage, whether one is working with peers in the same room or reaching them at remote locations across North America. With around 100 total rooms, AVI-SPL designers standardized the install on three different types: Polycom, Skype for Business/Crestron RL2, and Crestron-controlled huddle rooms. Most employees are already used to the native look and feel on the touch panel because they use Skype on their laptops—it’s intuitive for them to join the call, and they know how to share content. “Whether you’re in a Polycom room or a Skype room, you just press to join the meeting,” says Elliott. “It’s quick and simple and easy.”

The company’s 6,000-square foot auditorium is a three-way divisible room that’s used every day for projects like live sound mixing, video and web conferencing. Every two weeks it’s the hub of all-hands events that are broadcast to 7-Eleven satellite sites. Ceiling- and wall-mounted Vaddio cameras tie back into the Polycom video system and the Skype for Business infrastructure. About 30 ClearOne wireless mics in a variety of styles—handheld, gooseneck, ceiling—provide wide audio coverage, as do dozens of Polycom microphones.

Because 7-Eleven uses NEC in its stores, they supported its integration throughout the campus, including the auditorium. With controls like RS-232, CEC, and LAN, AV staff can control and monitor those displays from the Crestron Fusion platform. Crestron connectivity is also a feature of the Epson projectors, whose high-lumen output is of enormous benefit in the large meeting rooms and auditorium.

Through a combination of bridges and cloud licenses, Polycom drives the video conferencing used in the 7-Eleven Store Support Center and throughout 30-plus corporate sites. Its digital signal processors handle the audio from ceiling mics in large integrated audio rooms as well as the auditorium.

Three Planar video walls include a bezel-free LED wall in the auditorium, and one in the lobby that promotes 7-Eleven and is sometimes used to welcome vendors and guests with personalized messages. “It shows them that we really value them,” says Elliott of the lobby video wall.

Likewise, the partnership between AVI-SPL and 7-Eleven thrives because of the mutual respect between its teams, who came together to work as one unit. “What impressed me most working with AVI-SPL was probably the initial conversation we had with the sales team,” said Elliott. “They saw our vision and weren’t afraid to tell us what was not going to work, what they liked about it. We felt like we were jumping right into a collaboration on the project.”

“AVI-SPL has been more than just an integrator,” concluded Elliott. “They’ve become a partner of ours. They really value what we want to do as a business. We couldn’t imagine going with another integrator on this. They went above and beyond.”

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