Category AV Everywhere

AVI-SPL Employees Ham it up on the Air

Did you know there are a number of ham radio operators that work at AVI-SPL?  

Ham radio (AKA amateur radio) is two-way radio communications for people to talk to friends across town, in another country or even orbiting the planet (yes, people can, and do, use ham radios in space!). The amateur radio frequencies are the last remaining place in the usable radio spectrum where individuals can develop and experiment with wireless communications. 

When cell phones, land-line phones, the Internet and other systems are down or overloaded, amateur radio is a reliable communication method. The government gives many privileges to hams because they regularly assist the community during emergencies. They can play a major part in communications during virtually any catastrophe, from natural disasters (extreme weather like tornadoes or hurricanes, major earthquakes, tsunamis), or man-made problems (industrial accidents, chemical spills).

“The National Weather Service and other government entities cannot see what is happening on the ground during a disaster,” said Jim Kelly, AVI-SPL videoconferencing engineer. “They need real world feedback on what is happening.  About 10 years ago North Carolina had several tornadoes come through so I reported back to the National Weather Service about the size of hail in addition to details about the shapes of the clouds.”

Tod Andrews, design engineer from our Columbia, MD office, recalls assisting in a natural disaster more than a decade ago. “I remember being the packet hub coordinator for health and welfare during the 1994 Northridge earthquake into the affected area. It felt really good to help so many families reconnect after an awful earthquake.”

Connie Valentine, AVI-SPL senior design engineer adds: “The storm watchers and the emergency people do it to help other people.  The FCC is making a real effort to eliminate the radio bands that hams talk on.  Cell phones have given a way for people to communicate easily, but in a real emergency, when the cell phone towers are down, the ham radio operators will be there.”

In addition to helping the community, Andrews also enjoys amateur radio as a hobby.  “You can go camping and bring your ham gear; you can get involved in public safety with local officials. You can even communicate with the space shuttle or the International Space Station!”

Project Manager Doug Wilkens got involved in ham radio while growing up in India where his family was without much contact to the rest of the world. Wilkens began listening to BBC and Voice of America over a shortwave radio to stay connected. His interest in radios grew from there and he began building his own when he was still just a kid. When he returned to the U.S., Wilkens immediately began working on getting his ham radio license. Like all radio, Amateur Radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and must abide by international agreements.

“I wanted to be able to make my own transmissions to virtually anywhere in the world, just like the operators I listened to,” Wilkens said. “Now years later, I’ve made friends all over the world through ham radio.”

Kelly, Andrews, Valentine and Wilkens are a part of nearly 700,000 Amateur Radio operators in the U.S. and more than two million more around the world. Want to join this group of “hams” or learn more about amateur radio? The ARRL has some great resources on their website!

AVI-SPL Tops Systems Contractor News 2011 Integrator List

In Systems Contractor News magazine’s just-released Top 50 Systems Integrators for 2011, AVI-SPL led all other companies with projected revenues of $550 million – nearly $50 million more than its 2010 total, and over $100 million more than its nearest competitor.

It’s the second number-one ranking for AVI-SPL in recent weeks. The company was also named the integrator of the year by Commercial Integrator magazine, which profiled AVI-SPL for the cover story in its December issue.

AVI-SPL has earned the trust of its collaborators and customers because of our dedication to providing the best service from project consultation all the way to support. Through solutions that include telepresence, Unified Communications, audio conferencing, video conferencing and digital media, we help businesses communicate, collaborate and compete, and have completed over 30,000 integrations worldwide.

Take a look at a sampling of our integrations in the following markets:


Control rooms


Government & Military


House of Worship

Hospitality & Entertainment

Stadiums & Arenas

AVI-SPL also offers the full production resources of our Creative Show Services, a team of directors, project managers and audio-video engineers dedicated to helping you engage with your audience.

To find the AV solution that’s right for your business, complete this brief needs analysis form, and an AVI-SPL representative will give you a call. You can also contact us at (800) 282-6733 or via email at

Commercial Integrator Magazine Names AVI-SPL Integrator of the Year

In Commercial Integrator’s December issue, the magazine names AVI-SPL “Integrator of the Year.” Over the course of several interviews, Editor Tom LeBlanc talked at length to AVI-SPL CEO John Zettel and other members of the AVI-SPL team to discuss what drives the company’s successes, the importance of industry standards, and how it feels to lead the industry.

From Tom LeBlanc, editor of Commercial Integrator: “An integrator’s effectiveness can’t be entirely measured in revenue. So rather than leaning on data, we rely on conversations with these integrators, manufacturers and clients. Commercial Integrator ‘Integrator of the Year’ is a reflection of how impressed we are with the companies’ operations. That’s not to say we’re not impressed with AVI-SPL’s $550 million in projected 2011 revenue. But we chose it as ‘Integrator of the Year’ because of its profound impact on the industry. The sprawling organization – with 32 locations – sets a tone for the commercial integration industry.”

Read the full feature story from Commercial Integrator.

Take a look at some behind-the-scene photos taken during John Zettel’s CI photo shoot.




AVI-SPL Wraps Up First Year of Webinars

AVI-SPL University OnlineAt the end of November, AVI-SPL concluded its first year of webinars with its valued manufacturer partners. In 2011, we teamed with companies like Polycom, Cisco, Bosch, NEC Display and many more to bring you the latest information on pro AV and collaboration solutions that help businesses and organizations collaborate and compete. Our topics included video wall technology, best practices for audio conferencing, mass notification for facilities managers, video in healthcare, distance learning and many more.

If you’re interested in learning more about these subjects, I encourage you to visit AVI-SPL’s webinar resource page to watch the presentations and listen to the recorded webinars.

Because of the positive response we’ve had to these webinars, we plan on offering even more in 2012. Bookmark the AVI-SPL events page for information on our upcoming webinars, as well as tradeshows and expos.