Announcing the First Ever rAVe AV Hall of Fame

av-hall-of-fame-1214For years we’ve been writing about, featuring and awarding some of the best products, technology and people with various accolades and monikers. Now rAVe, the AV industry’s leading AV news source, will recognize the people in the AV market who have shaped it with the newly-announced rAVe’s AV Hall of Fame.

This is a beginning. The eleven people represented here, below, are a start — not a finish. The AV Hall of Fame will grow each and every year with new inductees and we will recognize them, annually in June, at the AV industry’s PREMIER AV show, InfoComm — the show that started the AV market.

So, here’s the first class (in alphabetical order):

mackeybarron3-1214Mackey Barron: Mackey Barron, a lieutenant colonel and WWII Airforce pilot, returned home to establish HB Motion Picture Service in 1946. His primary vision, to provide audiovisual solutions to educational and corporate organizations, has successfully survived the last half century of AV technological advancements. With Mr. Barron’s help, HB Communications has grown to be one of the largest communications company of its kind in the Northeast.

belanger2-1214Johanne Belanger: Johanne R. Belanger is the president of Freeman Audio Visual in Canada and is the current president of InfoComm. Prior to joining Freeman Audio Visual in 2005, Johanne spent 14 years in a variety of roles including finance, operations, purchasing, sales and marketing. A Meetings + Incentive Travel’s (M+IT) 2014 ‘Industry Builder’ Hall of Fame Inductee, Johanne was also honored with International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) 2014 Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership Award.

dozier2-1214Len Dozier: Len Dozier, founder of Premier Mounts, is arguably one of the hardest working people in the AV industry. Starting from the ground up, getting experience any way he could, Len has made a name for himself, and his company, over the last four and a half decades. It all started in 1967 and nearly every projector manufacturer and LCD manufacturer has used Premier OWM mounts at one point or another in the 1990s and 2000s and nearly every AV integrator is a dealer for Premier. Len was featured in our AV People series here.

edwards-1214Andrew Edwards: Andrew Edwards basically invented the term computer-interface. Extron Electronics started with a single product in 1983, and has since developed thousands of innovative AV solutions. Today Extron has over 30 offices worldwide and is the leading signal routing and switching company in the AV market. Andrew started Extron with the vision to connect IBM mainframe computers to Barco projector used in airplanes for presentations.

feldstein-1214George Feldstein: By the time Crestron founder George Feldstein was featured in Forbes magazine as a “Made-In-America” success story, everyone in the AV industry already knew who George Feldstein was. Although he was known for his AV inventions, he worked on projects including a new type of dehumidifier to waterproofing, well, everything. George, a relentless tinkerer, was always inventing — he holds 14 patents (many of which Crestron itself uses). He once told me he was working to perfect the ceiling fan so it didn’t wobble and make that clicking noise everyone hates about them. He was also awarded InfoComm’s Adele de Berri Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as CEDIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other industry honors. George died last month; here’s our story of the AV industry’s biggest loss, ever.

matthews-1214Ed Matthews: Ed Matthews is the CEO of Visix, Inc. and a well-respected, much- loved, long-time AV veteran. He’s pretty much a staple in industry. Ed has been active in the AV industry since 1967 and he’s most proud of his work on the AV broadcast center at four different Olympics sites (Atlanta, Nagano, Sydney and Salt Lake City). He was the co-founder of Technical Industries, once the biggest AV company in the Southeast and served as a volunteer on the inaugural CTS — Installation and CTS — Design committees. See rAVe’s AV People article on him here.

schaffel-1214Marty Schaffel: In 1979, Marty Schaffel started his first business with $2,000 selling Kroy lettering machines — machines that created black letters on scotch tape type material, transparencies and slides. He’d successfully convinced them to set him up as a dealer, and after just a year, Marty had over $1 million in recurring revenue. From there he began selling projectors — movie, slide, overhead and film strip. Then he graduated to getting into video in the early 1980s. Marty loved AV and had the passion and the drive to keep growing his businesses and growing in his profession. As the founder of AVI (now AVI-SPL), the largest AV dealer in the world, Marty set a bar that nearly every AV dealer tries to emulate today. Marty was featured in our AV People series here.

Fritz-Sennheiser-Schreibtis-1214Fritz Sennheiser: Fritz Sennheiser grew up in the radio-age and built a crystal radio when he was 11 years old. According to Wikipedia, he had originally hoped to become a landscape gardener, but chose instead to pursue electrical engineering at the Berlin Institute of Technology where he earned a Ph.D. from the Heinrich Hertz Institute in 1940. He started Sennheiser in 1945 when he debuted the  world’s first microphone production line with the DM 1. The rest is history and Sennheiser is now the defacto-standard microphone for many applications worldwide.

tandberg-1214Vebjørn Tandberg: Vebjørn Tandberg started Tandberg as Tandbergs Radiofabrikk in Oslo, Norway in 1933 as a radio manufacturer. In the 1940s, they added speakers and then reel-to-reel tape recorders in the 1950’s. In the mid-1980’s, they entered the TV market and then eventually connected a TV screen to a phone line and the rest is history. The videoconferencing company was sold to Cisco in 2009 for $3 Billion. In addition to his technical and commercial achievements, Tandberg was a pioneer in providing good conditions for his workforce. He instituted a 42 hour week and 3 weeks yearly vacation for all in 1937, and a free pension and health insurance scheme for all from 1938. A four week vacation for all employees over 40 years of age was introduced in 1947, while the working week was reduced to 39 hours in 1948. There was a five day work week during the summer months from 1955, over the full year from 1969.

vaughan-1214Randy Vaughan: Randy Vaughn was the only person, ever, to have served as both the chairman of CEDIA and NSCA. Before dying in 2010, Randy was in AV for over 40-years having founded both a HomeAV and ProAV integrator in Virginia and helped guide the development of our market through his volunteer service at CEDIA and NSCA in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.

cwilson-1214Chuck Wilson: Chuck Wilson’s story of how he got into AV is a little different than, well, a lot of people. Not many people can say that they’ve only held two jobs their entire life. Chuck, executive director of NSCA, however, can. Chuck has help guide thousands of AV dealerships over the years navigate and profitably manage the growth of their businesses via the dozens of programs NSCA offers – nearly all of which were Chuck’s idea. Chuck was featured in our AV People series here.