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AV Programming Associates: Long-time Crestron Programmers With An Eye On The Future

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Founded in 2001, AV Programming Assoicates, (AVPA) is Certified Crestron Services Provider. They specialize in design support and programming of Crestron control systems for the professional audiovisual industry. Their proven track record and continuous improvement sets them apart from others in the industry. Below is our candid interview with Matthew Grisafe, President of AVPA.

Matt_Grisafe Q: Since 2001, AVPA has completed more than 1,000 Crestron and Extron programming projects. Tell us something more about your history that many people may not know?

A: AVPA was founded as a Crestron programming company and although we’ve expanded our services since 2001, we’ve remained dedicated our original mission. Over the past 14 years, we’ve consistently delivered custom programming for environments of all types, from high-end residential to commercial, including entertainment venues, houses of worship, government facilities, and more. There are few audiovisual programming companies that can cross over the commercial/residential spectrum like we can, and I believe that by doing so, we have honed techniques and knowledge that other programming companies do not possess. We have done projects as small as a home theater system or corporate boardroom, all the way up to a 30-room project at a university in which all rooms communicated through a central monitoring system. We also work closely with our customers to provide simple solutions to complex problems, like creating a one-button operation that allows the CEO of an international organization to configure, start, and manage a video conference call that connects all of their offices around the globe into a single, all-hands meeting.

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Q: What makes AV Programming Associates a good choice, and what motivates customers to stay with your company?

A: AVPA has a proven track record, and I think that makes a huge impact in the minds of our customers. We deliver top-quality custom programming solutions on schedule and within budget, but we also work successfully in nearly all environments. Professional system integrators find it easy to work with us and quickly come to see AVPA as a trusted partner to the point that we’re they’re preferred resource, not just another company to get a bid from. They recognize that we are honest with our pricing and reliable in delivering what’s been contracted. We do much of the program development in-house, so that by the time the installation is ready, we can come onsite and work efficiently to test and commission the system. That also helps to prevent the need for return trips in many cases.

Q: What advantage (or differences) does AVPA have over its competitors?

A: As I mentioned in the opening question, our crossover into different markets provides a unique perspective to projects and solutions. We have programmed systems for yachts, churches, sports bars, penthouses, secure government agencies, military facilities, universities—the list goes on.
We are certified to provide authorized programming services and design support for a couple of manufacturers’ systems. Right now, we’re focusing on Crestron and Extron systems. Each product line offers benefits that are specific to various applications. For example, Crestron continues to be the dominant industry leader when it comes to fully customized, do-anything-you-can-think-of kinds of systems. Of course, more complex device communication and system automation comes with more work, and therefore a higher price tag for programming.

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Q: What advice would you share with someone interested in starting a Crestron programming company?

A: As with anything, being as prepared possible is a smart move. We’ve seen a number of Crestron programmers come and go over the years. The ones who don’t last usually don’t invest in ongoing education. They don’t take certifications seriously, and they often don’t focus on perfecting business fundamentals.

It’s also important for a startup in the audiovisual industry to specialize in something. Being an AV generalist may hinder your ability to set yourself apart from everyone else, because although professional audiovisual is a niche industry, there’s still plenty of competition.

Secondly, always use contracts. I know this sounds remedial and obvious, but our industry has two distinct levels of professionalism. The more professional you can be, the better you’ll be positioned for success. You don’t want potential customers to think of you as a hobbyist. Contracts, and other business basics will help keep you above the fray.

Lastly, personnel is key. You want people who treat your business as their own. Attitude is everything. You can teach the specifics, but attitude and discipline come from within.

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Q: What are your plans for the next six months?

A: AVPA is in a growth mode. We’re currently in search of talented individuals to join our team. We are looking for people with Crestron programming experience, and would love to find an up-and-coming developer who’s proficient in C#. Many of the audiovisual control system makers, like Crestron, are updating and expanding their programming suites and the ways in which their products can be programmed. Crestron has adopted C# to leverage the native libraries for efficient communication with databases and to better support integration with enterprise systems. Extron has also upgraded their systems to now be programmable using a Python-based language.

Looking further into the future, it’s interesting to note that although these recent enhancements were initially made to tighten the integration capabilities of these control systems in commercial applications, we’re already starting to see residential customers asking for similar functionality. In many ways, some of the residential applications we’re delivering today are a merge between a small business application environment and a home entertainment system. Moving forward, our ability to develop software solutions for both commercial and residential applications will likely continue to be our advantage, as those lines are becoming more and more blurred. After all, technology is technology. And who’s to say that what works great in an enterprise environment shouldn’t be used in a residential one as well?

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