Saturday, 10 November 2012

A Time for Change

After 35-years in the audiovisual installation industry I have decided it is time to hang up my hat so that I may devote my time Bus Stop Bible Studies, the ministry I had the privilege of starting in 2006. Yesterday was my last day at First Vision.
My audiovisual career started at Black’s Cameras, having just immigrated to Canada from England in 1973.  I felt like I had landed in a land flowing with milk and honey.  After 2-years working in the retail stores I was promoted to work in Blacks’ AV division, selling 16mm movie projectors and slide projectors to school boards and the like.  During that time I remember the introduction of the first battery operated ‘portable’ colour video camera from Panasonic; the camera head weighed 16lbs. and the reel-to-reel backpack recorder 70lbs.
In 1976 I was offered a job by Multivision Electrosonic, a company who was at the forefront of the emerging multi-image market.  Multi-Image was a large-venue display system comprising up to forty 35mm slide projectors synchronized to a sound track.  This became a significant industry with the formation of The Canadian Association for Multi-Image, of which I was a founding member and treasurer.
In 1980 I and two colleagues started our own company, Integrated Systems, to further specialize in the evolving multi-image industry and system integration.  During this time the company saw the introduction of the first video projectors and IBM became one of our main customers. 
In the fall of 1987 I started by own company, David Harrison and Associates, to specialize in the permanent audiovisual system integration market.  Approximately 7-years later the company was rebranded FirstVision.  The first three years of the company were run out of my home basement office and yet during this time we were awarded a $1.2 million ($2 million in 2012 dollars) contract to design and install the AV systems for the new Glaxo Pharmaceuticals headquarters in Mississauga.  This was to be the first of many prestigious projects awarded to the Company.  The Company’s focus has primarily been serving banks, law firms and companies where the need for quality and service are paramount. This continues to be our core focus today.
There have been many exciting times in the last 35-years,  amongst the most notable of which was the Hockey Hall of Fame project awarded to us in 1993; the year in which the Toronto Maple Leafs almost made it to the Stanley Cup.  During our site meetings, towards the end of the project, the excitement was palpable as plans were being made for a parade down University Avenue.  When Don Cherry and Ron Maclean came for a walk-through with the cameras, I was caught at the top of a stepladder adjusting a projector.  Judging by the number of people who caught a three-second glimpse of me, the whole nation must have been tuned in to Hockey Night in Canada!
And, of course, there have been tremendous strides in technology.  I remember selling two of the very first 42” plasma displays in 1997 for $25,000 each ($36,000 in today’s dollars).  Now when you buy a bed they’ll give you a consumer model for free! 
There is a proverb in the Bible which says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29.  This has been the privilege of my experience.  Indeed, the latest project First Vision completed is the new Four Seasons flagship hotel which opened in Yorkville just days ago. 
Throughout the years, though, it has been the people, the employees, customers and suppliers that have made the whole journey so memorable.  I would be remiss if I did not hold out one individual in particular, Margaret Johnston, who has been at my right hand almost from the beginning, and continues to serve with the company.  We have been blessed with highly gifted professionals who serve our customers today; many of them have been with First Vision for more than 10-years.
With eventual retirement in mind, two years ago I sold the majority of my shares in the Company, recently renamed First Vision Technology Inc. to better reflect the changing nature of the industry.  
Thanks for the memories!