AV People: Randy Pagnan of rp Visual Solutions

Most everyone in the AV industry knows Randy Pagnan. Well, it’s easy for everyone to know him when he’s been in the industry 25 years.

Rewind just a few years… to when Randy was in eighth grade growing up in Canada. He met a girl named Teresa. After asking her out just a few times over the next, well, few years, Teresa finally gave in and said yes to Randy’s advances in the tenth grade. They’ve been together ever since.

After being married a few years and having a couple children, Randy and his wife Teresa decided to move to Southern California from Canada in 1992 when their third daughter was born. They left behind their friends, families and previous jobs. Randy liked the opportunities that lay head in southern Cal, not to mention along with a much larger opportunity and economy than that of Canada.

He’s worked at Electrohome, American Video Communications, Hoffman and Christie, surviving the buyouts of almost every company he’s worked for. After years of experience, Randy, along with his wife, started rp Visual Solutions in April 2005 — just the two of them.

On a whim, they decided to exhibit at InfoComm, with less than six weeks to plan. They had a small 10×20 booth. Pretty gutsy for a brand new company. Now rp Visual Solutions has more than 20 employees there in Southern California.

Then in July 2005, Teresa went in for a routine checkup before a hysterectomy. On Friday afternoon, after not hearing anything from their family doctor about the checkup, Randy called. The doctor picked up the phone and said, “You have breast cancer. Have a nice weekend.”

Needless to say, they no longer are patients of that doctor.

Teresa was 45 years old and diagnosed with breast cancer. They had just signed the lease on the building for the new business. Life had been turned upside down. Teresa went through 12 surgeries in a two-and-a-half year period. Thankfully, today she is cancer free and a seven-plus year survivor.

Not too long after Teresa became cancer-free, Randy began working on getting his American citizenship. He went through the testing process, studied the book and was ready to be sworn in.

It was a hot summer morning in 2009 and Randy and his wife were ready to head to the LA Sports Arena to be sworn in with 3,500 other new Americans.

The LA Sports Arena is off of the 110 freeway in Los Angeles. Traffic in LA is terrible even at the best of times — especially this day at 8:30 in the morning. So, Randy and Teresa got up extra early that day and commenced their drive — expecting to arrive in plenty of time — even planning to perhaps have breakfast close to the arena before. But the exit off the 110 at Exposition was at a complete stand still — they were in U.S. citizenship exit ramp gridlock.

They’d been delayed for an hour. Randy began to panic.

Then Randy noticed people, A LOT of people, getting out of their cars and running down the ramp to the LA Sports Arena — in suits. Soon, there were 3,500 people in suits running down the exit ramp off the freeway.

Randy and Theresa started laughing — for many of these new Americans, this was their first real welcome to America: Running down the 110 freeway in a suit on their way to be sworn in as an American citizen.

So, Randy did what he had to do; he joined them. And eventually, he was sworn in as an American citizen.

Almost a year later, Randy went in to the doctor (a new doctor, mind you) for a random checkup. The doctor said, “I gotta tell you, Randy, I’m on a bad roll with prostate cancer right now. I know you’re only 46, but I’d like to do a check anyway.”

The doctor’s concern soon became reality as Randy’s annual check-up eventually came back positive. At the age of 48, just a few short years after his wife was free of breast cancer, Randy was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Neither Randy nor Teresa had a family history of cancer and honestly would never have had exams until they were 50. They were both lucky enough to be caught young and early. Randy encourages everyone to see his or her doctor for routine check-ups. Early detection saved their lives.

And now, Randy and Teresa are both cancer free, happy, healthy and American citizens. Well, Randy is. Teresa isn’t. She’s still Canadian, but Randy assures us she is legal*.

*Still working on verifying that

Molly Stillman is the director of marketing and new business development for rAVe [Publications]. Reach her at molly@ravepubs.com

Do you know someone in the industry with an interesting story that should be featured in our monthly column? Email Molly and let her know.