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June 22, 1999

United opens system fabrication center

Systems team now at ten

Due to rapid growth, United Visual's a/v systems department recently expanded into a new 3500-square foot area in United's Itasca headquarters.

"The new space allows us to bring our equipment and parts stock, rack prefabrication area and pre-installation testing all into one place," says Santo DiBenardo, United's Field Installation Manager. "Really, it comes down to a need to control the quality of our work as we handle more volume."

That same need brought the addition of two new team members this year.

Dave Michel moved into the role of United's systems design engineer, CAD draftsman and AMX programmer. Dave has an unusual background for this position: over twenty years experience as a video service tech and service manager. The hope is that his component-level knowledge will allow United to build simpler, more reliable systems than others in the business. That seems to be the case so far.

Shelley Johnson came on board with the mission to organize the work flow and keep better track of staff and customers. She, too, has been a big contributor in her three months with the company. "We've become extremely flexible," says DiBenardo. "We're able to reconfigure our teams job by job with Shelly fitting particular installers and team leaders to particular customers, depending on their backgrounds and the needs of the job."

Shown in the photo above (from left): Installers Brad Busse, Dan McGoldrick, Noah Beilfuss, Mike Mueller (engineer/installer), Ron Beilfuss, Santo DiBenardo (department manager), Shelley Johnson (installation coordinator), George Houck, Chuck Pechtel, and Dave Michel (design engineer).

June 1, 1999

Tim Edwards brings stage lighting department to United Visual

Tim Edwards has joined United Visual as Stage Lighting Manager, bringing professional lighting to our Rental Department.

Tim joins United with over 16 years experience as a lighting designer and operator. His resume includes stage lighting design for Guns and Roses, the Reggae Sunsplash Festival in Jamaica, and ongoing work for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Since starting at United two months ago, Tim has designed and set up lighting for a number of corporate and public events, including the Society of Biomaterials Convention in Providence, RI (shown at left) an after-game concert at Soldier Field for the Chicago Fire soccer team and Jam Productions, and a reception for Jessie Jackson at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago.

If you have questions about lighting, you can phone Tim at 800/ 680-4221 or e-mail him at [email protected]

April 19, 1999

United Visual Rentals moves to bigger quarters

United Visual’s Rental Department has moved to larger quarters at 399 Wall Street, Glendale Heights, Illinois

According to John Toomey, Rental Operations Manager, "the move was necessary because of the addition of our new lighting department headed by Tim Edwards. We’ve made a major investment in lighting equipment and that, together with the increases we’ve made over the last three years in sound and projection inventory, kind of overwhelmed our space in the Itasca building."

The new space, pictured here, is in a brand new building with interiors custom built for United. But Toomey isn’t getting too comfortable. "We like it here, but, with any luck, we’ll outgrow it by the time our lease is up in three years."

February 12, 1999

Mergens and Gosstrom join United Visual

Lori GosstromTwo veterans of the a/v industry have joined the United staff.

Lori Gosstrom joins United Visual’s internet sales department with over 12 years in a/v repair service, a/v and computer customer service and sales. "When I heard she was looking around," says Don Kreski, United’s Director of Marketing, "I called her right away. She was obviously someone we had to have."

Jim MergensJim Mergens, who has over 18 years experience in a/v and a/v systems support to hospital and university environments, has joined United Visual as our health care and higher education account manager. "These are customers with some very specialized needs," says Rick Nelson, Sales Manager, "and Jim has the background and experience to really take care of them. Hiring him was another no-brainer."

Mergens, for his part, told me, "I was really surprised how United has been able to approach its pricing structure. For example, to be able to offer a top-quality LCD projection package, installed with sound system, VCR, interfacing and AC power for under $10,000 is just amazing."

December 11, 1998

Tony Cascio in United's Service Dept.Cascio joins United's Service Division

Tony Cascio has just completed his first month at United Visual as Service Marketing Manager and co-manager of the firm's Service Division. Cascio, a former conference services manager for Ameritech and sales manager for Marriott International, is working side-by-side with John Lenox to expedite equipment repairs and to develop maintenance programs for United's a/v systems customers. His experience in managing conference and training centers adds a new, welcome perspective to the Service Division.

"Many equipment problems can be avoided with regularly scheduled maintenance," Cascio says. "But when equipment falters, our customers must be assured that their equipment is in caring hands and will be returned as soon as possible. After all, we're not just fixing equipment, but helping people with their next class or presentation."

United Visual was founded in 1949 as a repair company: United Projector Service. Cascio points out that, after five decades of growth, it would be easy for many firms to forget their roots. "My job," says Cascio, "is to make sure we don't forget where we came from or to let growth get in the way of taking care of our customers."

November 12, 1998


United Visual customers have been calling the firm's November 3 and 10 LCD and a/v systems shows a big success. "We really tried to do something that was both educational and fun for everyone involved," says Don Kreski, United's marketing manager. "Feedback from our evaluation forms and several calls we've received has been very positive," says Kreski. "It's nice to be able to provide something that helps people do their jobs better." Particularly well-received were the seminars on distance learning presented by Naperville Central High School's Tom Bohdan, on digital HDTV by Panasonic's Ron Cameron, and on choosing a projector by Sony's Ed Boland. "Our rental department did a great job setting up our projector shootout," says Kreski, "and the Summit Centre and the Drake both outdid themselves on the food. The support we received from our vendors and presenters was terrific."

October 1, 1998

Knutson heads videoconferencing division

Paul Knutson, formerly of Andersen Worldwide and Amoco Corporation, will head United Visual's new videoconferencing systems support division. Knutson, shown here working with a PictureTel Concord, has over 15 years providing videoconferencing technical support and management. "You have to be willing to get fully inside these systems sometimes to keep them on track for your customers," he says. Paul has been instrumental in bringing a number of customers on line, though his role at United has, until now, been divided between a/v systems and videoconferencing support. The need for a full-time videoconferencing specialist has becoming more and more obvious at United Visual. The firm has moved rapidly into the field this year, gaining significant successes through its dealerships with PictureTel and 3M Advanced Meeting Systems. United's rental division has also been active, adding portable videoconferencing and audioconferencing systems to its Illinois and Wisconsin inventories. Knutson is also close to completion of a dedicated videoconferencing system at United's Itasca headquarters. It should be available for rentals in December.

July 20, 1998


United to provide a/v to Wisconsin's largest convention center

United Visual, Inc. has signed a long-term contract to be the supplier of audio/visual rental equipment and services to the Wisconsin Center District in Milwaukee. The Wisconsin Center District owns and operates the new Midwest Express Center, Wisconsin's largest convention center with 188,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 76,000 square feet of meeting room space; the Arena, a 12,200 seat sports facility, and the Auditorium, a 6,200 seat live theater complex. The new facility's grand opening is July 24-26.The Midwest Express Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

United is staffing the facility with full-time managers and technicians and provides all necessary a/v inventory. They also run the facility's business center, providing Midwest Express Center customers with office services, such as copying, faxing, and typing.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with United Visual," said Richard Geyer, president of the Wisconsin Center District. "They are a first class a/v company with a great can-do attitude and first class equipment for our clients' needs. We look forward to a long-lasting working relationship with United Visual."

The partnership between United Visual and the Wisconsin Center District is a major milestone for United Visual, which is experiencing rapid growth. It is expanding its reach beyond Illinois, where it has been a major presence in the a/v industry for 49 years.

"This agreement gives United Visual the opportunity to expand our services outside of Chicago," said Dan McKevitt, vice president of sales and business development. "The growth we've experienced says a lot about our employees and the relationships they've built with our customers."

For 49 years, this privately held company has provided a/v and multimedia equipment to Fortune 1000 firms, school districts and universities, and a large number of small and medium size businesses. In Chicago, United supplies a/v rental equipment to 35 hotels, including Pheasant Run Resort, Chicagoland's largest resort and convention center. United Visual is also an authorized dealer for more than 75 leading equipment manufacturers. The Midwest Express Center has 812,000 square feet of space, including a ballroom with capacity for 3,150 people, 28 meeting and breakout rooms, and exhibition space.

"The old-fashioned, traditional business approach to our customers and employees is the hallmark of this company," said John Kellmann, rental sales manager at United Visual. "Receiving the contract for the Midwest Express Center is an exciting and important step for us. We hope to duplicate in Wisconsin what has made us successful in Illinois."

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