by Chuck Ansbacher
Tampa, FL—While there must be a family reunion somewhere that regularly posts a 300-plus headcount, it’s highly unlikely that said reunion also comes equipped with its own tradeshow. But then again, most families aren’t AVI-SPL—the integration behemoth with $550 million in 2011 revenues, and so many consecutive years at the number-one spot on SCN’s Top 50 that everyone has all but stopped counting.
Of course, when you start using words like “revenue” and “million,” unless your last name happens to be Walmart you generally stop being classified as a family. That distinction, however, was lost on the attendees of AVI-SPL’s annual national sales meeting, which took place from April 2-6 at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL. The theme of the event was “Power Forward,” but the vibe was definitely “We Are Family,” as the AVI-SPL team relished the opportunity to chat, mingle, hit the dance floor, and hit the links. With over 6,000 successful integration projects completed last year alone, the team has much to celebrate.
AVI-SPL is such a power house that this year’s national sales meeting attracted 60 manufacturers to exhibit on a far from small tradeshow floor at the resort. Almost every big name you can think of, including Cisco, Crestron, and Extron, had booths set up and reps in attendance, seizing the chance to have quality face time with the decision makers and sales force. Since AVI-SPL boasts strong partnerships with over 700 manufacturers, it’s easy to see why nurturing these relationships is time well spent.
While AVI-SPL gains recognition for its large-scale projects, like the audio systems integration it will be doing at the Tennessee Titans stadium in Nashville, TN, it’s the somewhat less glamorous ventures that continue to put the company in a league of its own. For example, it provides video communication and collaboration solutions to 86 percent of the Fortune 100, and 71 percent of the Fortune 500. In fact, of the 6,138 projects that AVI-SPL completed in 2011, 50 percent had a video component.
Indeed, the company sees video services as the future. This sentiment couldn’t have been expressed more clearly than at the beginning of the year when it acquired Iformata, a provider of video managed services. That acquisition included the Iformata Video Network Operations Center (VNOC) and the VNOC Symphony management platform. “With the acquisition of Iformata, we become one of the only video solutions providers who can truly provide every aspect of the video communications experience,” said Mike Brandofino, executive vice president of video and unified communications. “We think it is critical to be at the point of sale when selling services and the fact that we design, build, and now provide VNOC managed services across any video platform, clearly differentiates us from anyone else in the space.”
Overall services continue to make up a greater share of AVI-SPL’s profits, with 3,500 service contracts fulfilled in 2011 and 84 percent year over year growth. While it has been offering its help desk service for eight years, services now account for $43 million in annual revenue, or ten percent of total sales. This number is expected to hit $60 million by the end of 2012 as a recurring base. With services proving to be an exceptionally high-margin business, these increases serve to reinforce the shift from AV to IT that the company continues to undergo. Exemplifying this shift is Camèlèon Telepresence System, AVI-SPL’s new plug and play fully immersive communication system.
Another area that continues to experience stunning growth is AVI-SPL’s content creation and digital media division. “We’ve had content creation as part of our company for years,” explained Doug Carnell, executive vice president of operations, referencing the CS2 team, which has historically focused on live events. “We’ve now developed a content creation team around digital media, and we’re making sure our clients know that, yes, we’ll help you on the infrastructure side, yes, we’ll help you on the implementation side, and yes, as part of our ongoing services, we’ll help you maintain all those things, monitor all those things, and provide content for all those things.”
With only two members of the team solely devoting their time to content creation for digital media, this is still a small operation by any standard. Having said that, AVI-SPL’s digital media revenues grew 300 percent year over year in 2011. If numbers anywhere close to that continue to be posted, expect more manpower to be devoted to this department in the near future.