A Move to Higher Ground
Pro AV Solutions Queensland marked another major milestone with the opening of its prestigious new 1700sqm, $8.5m office and showrooms.
Text:/ Derek Powell
Photos:/ Pro AV Solutions QLD
The official opening saw a satisfying roll up of customers, supplier representatives, consultants and more. Following champagne and speeches in the afternoon sunshine, the ceremonial ribbon was cut to allow the assembled throng inside. All were keen to inspect the new offices, workshop and service facilities, with a real buzz around the ritzy new Customer Experience Centre. More about that later.
Owner-director Philip Holtum was in fine form and keen to highlight the many reasons to prefer the handsome new headquarters over the former office. It’s bigger: bringing the whole company together under one roof again with ample room for the suite of five state-of-the-art technology demonstration rooms. It has an impeccable corporate look and feel: and yet it comes with a capacious warehouse space complete with a loading dock. But the standout feature is location. While less than a kilometre (as the crow flies) from the old Camford Street property, Philip was keen to highlight that the new Milton address stands on ground a full 17 metres higher! That puts it comfortably out of reach of the notoriously flood-prone Brisbane River.
FLOOD OF MEMORIES
Those floods have been a blight for the company several times over. The devastating flood in 2011 ironically struck in the midst of their then biggest job to date – the AV fitout of the Queensland Government’s new Emergency Operations Centre. While staff frantically wired, patched and programmed to get the Disaster Management Centre operating ahead of schedule, disaster was unfolding at Milton. The ground floor of their former building, housing workshops, storerooms and training areas, was totally destroyed. The height of that flood even saw Philip Holtum rowing a dinghy up to the outside of the upper floor and smashing the glass to gain access to rescue crucial computer equipment! Though the building, rebuilt with a flood-resistant ground floor, would serve for another decade, the company’s main logistics warehouse and workshop were eventually relocated to a site in Kelvin Grove.
That wasn’t the only run-in with the river, as Philip revealed during an exclusive pre-opening tour for AV.Technology. “It was really the ’22 flood that pushed me to go,” he revealed. “During Covid, I decided to renovate that building and sit it out for a bit longer until the market settled. But then when we flooded again, I thought no, this is the time for a new plan.
“The majority of our business, of course, is in the city,” Philip continued. “And to get a building of this size in this precinct that doesn’t flood was pretty difficult. But our goal was to stay close to our major customer base. We have a big customer service operation and while they’re servicing the whole of Queensland, for every 10 tickets, six of them would be in the city. So, proximity to the CBD is pretty important – it’s an Uber ride rather than a drive and a car park.”
The sophistication of the service operation is clearly in evidence with one quadrant of the first-floor offices dominated by a multi-screen videowall dashboard service display.
“We’ve got 14 people in this team now, including six staff that are embedded in our customer sites in the city,” Philip explained. “These six screens show information coming out of our service platform, which runs our service ticketing and case management system. We are gearing up to really focus on remote support, because we need to – to scale up our service capability. The IT industry has been doing this for years. They don’t roll vans, while we’re still rolling vans for everything, and it’s expensive. Our next challenge is to have a proper dashboard that shows us the status of our clients’ sites so we can be proactive rather than reactive.”
The ground floor, together with a mezzanine level, contains the logistics hub and workshops – now relocated from Kelvin Grove. Newly-installed racking in the main warehouse space can store up to 140 pallets, accessed by forklift or elevating work platform. Adjacent, is the loading dock, with a full-height roller door securely accommodating Pro AV’s three-tonne truck, and a generous open area for decanting incoming deliveries. Right next to the warehouse are the spacious workshops.
“In our industry, not everything works right out of the box,” Philip notes wryly. “It normally requires a firmware update as well as some configuration. So, we run a stringent pre-build, pre-test, pre-check, pre-firmware process in this operation. We bring the goods in at least four weeks ahead of the project delivery schedule to ensure everything goes through our workshop facilities. We started doing this about 10 years ago, because we knew we could be far more efficient in a controlled workshop environment than we would be on site. I said to my team: ‘Minimise testing and commissioning in front of customers. We need to prove the concept before it goes to site; we need to check firmware; we need to validate it’s going to do what it says on the box’.”
There’s going to be a substantial investment in Queensland, and I think Brisbane will boom leading up to the Olympics
The impressive customer experience centre is the first visitor touchpoint. The first room, furnished as an up-scale boardroom, is fitted out with a full Crestron 1-Beyond Microsoft Teams rig.
“The 1-Beyond system is a six-camera conferencing system, supported by Sennheiser and Biamp audio and a full Samsung ‘The Wall’ LED display across the front of the room,” proclaimed Philip. “I guess it’s a combination of the best from our tier-one vendors; our premium suppliers.”
Beyond the boardroom is an open plan showroom area set with three typical office workstations. “This area will remain relatively open to show workstation technology,” he explained. “We’ll set up unique Microsoft Teams desktop experiences on these workstations with products from Yealink or other suppliers.”
This space features a Microsoft Teams solution, Dicolor LED display wall as well as a full Biamp audio system configured to run three different conferencing microphones. “Here there’ll be the smaller Sennheiser solution, the Shure ceiling tile, and the Biamp Parle microphones so that we can do a microphone shootout in an open environment.”
But wait – there’s more! Ranged along one side of the open showroom space are three dedicated meeting rooms experiences.
“The first is a Jabra BYOD Microsoft Teams meeting room,” Phil explained. “Meeting Room 2 has a Cisco Room Bar Pro, Microsoft Teams environment. And Meeting Room 3 is a Logitech Microsoft Teams ‘Signature’ room. This is by far my favourite, because it has the Jupiter 21:9 Pana screen. This will be a pretty popular room when it’s all said and done.”
EYE FOR EXPANSION
By the end of the tour, it’s clear the purchase of this new building represents a ‘transformational moment’ for Pro AV Solutions Queensland, and Philip Holtum is clear-eyed about the future.
“Look, it’s 2023 and we’ve got the Olympics in nine years,” he declared. “There’s going to be a substantial investment in Queensland, and I think Brisbane will boom leading up to the Olympics. I’m hoping we can expand the business to cater for that.”
Pro AV Solutions: proavsolutions.com.au