AV Industry Mourns AV Rental Pioneer Stephen Goot

stephen-groot-0916The founder of Atlanta-based Total AV, Stephen Baron Goot, 73, died earlier this month after an undisclosed surgery. As many of you know, Stephen Goot founded Total AV Services (TAVS) in 1973 and pioneered many of the techniques used by rental companies today, e.g. electronic inventory tracking, event product staging techniques and many of the billing practices still used in the rental and staging industry.

Goot was born in New York City but lived most of his life in Las Vegas, Nev. He attended the University of Arizona in Tempe and majored in business. Upon graduation, he lived in New York and was a glove salesman, a stockbroker, a financial advisor and broker before deciding to move to Atlanta and start a convention services company.

TAVS had its biggest growth in the 1980s and ultimately employed over 400 people, grossed $40 Million in revenue and had offices in 11 cities before it was sold in 1994 to GE Capital (which was eventually purchased by PSAV). Two years before selling TAVS, Goot was in a car accident that left him partially paralyzed, in a wheelchair and on a path changed the focus of his life. After his accident, Goot moved to the Shepherd Center — a rehabilitation center for brain and neurological damages — and that became the focus of his volunteer activities including serving on its board of directors for over a decade and was, most recently, their corporate secretary. He was a career volunteer at Shepherd Center and focused the last 20-years of his life helping new patients there realize there is opportunity after a major spinal cord injury. The obituary of Goot recounts: “His goal was to teach them that there is life after a spinal cord injury. Stephen did not let his limitations define him, and his wit, charm and bigger than life personality made his chair invisible to everyone he met.”

Goot was survived by his wife of 38 years, Debbie and his two sons, Brian Bible and Michael Goot — and an entire industry of rental and stagers.

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