D-Tools System Integrator Software Helps Southtown AV Create Immersive Experiences

Creative technology applications inspire youthful exploration at Buffalo’s new Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum

Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum – Moving Water exhibit 

Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum at Canalside represents the next stage in the City of Buffalo’s continued revitalization. The 43,000-square-foot, four-story immersive adventure also presented an opportunity for Hamburg, New York-based integration firm, Southtown AV (SAV) to stretch its wings into what SAV president Heather Sidorowicz calls her “favorite segment of AV.”

“Museums—or specifically, what we call immersive technologies—is a newer area for us. There’s more creativity behind it,” Sidorowicz said. “And for us to do this locally has been amazing. To say we did this children’s museum that everybody in our region has heard of adds credence to our abilities. That has been great for us.”

As with SAV’s other multiroom six-figure-plus projects, Sidorowicz said Explore & More was intensive, requiring extensive project management and detailed design and engineering. “It could not have been completed without D-Tools,” she said, adding, “we couldn’t have created this project from beginning to end without a major cost loss. D-Tools made the difference between being able to do this project and not being able to do it.”

As SAV has grown from a small, residential-focused company to a mid-size commercial AV integrator with eight employees and $1.4 million in annual revenue, D-Tools has played an instrumental role.

Growing into Commercial AV with Help from D-Tools

SAV’s revenue is split between 85% large-scale commercial projects, including healthcare, retail, and entertainment projects like the Explore & More children’s museum, and 15% of what Sidorowicz dubbed “relationship residential.” These are existing residential customers, or new commercial customers, who want to incorporate technology in their house and know they can trust SAV to do it.

SAV started transitioning into commercial AV from primarily residential work in 2013, a process Sidorowicz chronicled in an earlier interview focused on her experience as a new D-Tools user.

Since then, SAV has increased its commercial focus by another 15%, taking on bigger and more complicated projects bolstered by D-Tools’ robust and comprehensive estimation, design, and project management software solution – System Integrator (SI). 

But the leap into larger commercial projects wasn’t one the integrator took lightly.

“You need to be able to function as a company before you can go after commercial work,” she said. “Cash flow is going to play a big part in that story, but you also have to be able to present yourself as a professional firm. D-Tools has a simple contract built in, so if you start there, you have that behind you.”

She noted that SAV’s professionally produced, D-Tools-based proposal was one factor that secured the bid for Explore & More. “Our professionalism and the ability to send a quote via D-Tools SI helped prove our competency,” she said.

Delivering the Client’s Vision through D-Tools

In the Explore & More Museum, the client had a concept for each of the seven main exhibits but did not have an AV consultant to help them see what was possible and how it could be executed. D-Tools SI gave SAV the ability to make drawings of each space and present what each room would do,  clearly outlining the scope of each exhibit.  

The museum explores the region’s rich past, industry and commerce, architecture, and culture, with a focus on agriculture, the city’s waterways, and local sports teams. Each exhibit features hands-on activities to engage and educate children, who don’t realize they are learning as they play. 

Crestron control throughout the building makes it easy for the client to turn the audio, video, and lighting systems off and on. BrightSign digital signage systems connect to the Crestron CP3N 3-Series control system to deliver preprogrammed content where and as it is needed, often responding to motion sensors to trigger specific audio or video clips.

For instance, one exhibit simulates a boat traveling through the Erie Canal. When a child moves an oar to steer, a sensor detects the direction, and the BrightSign digital signage player delivers the appropriate content to the screen, so it feels like the boat is moving.

A cupboard inside the canal boat holds a loudspeaker that delivers a pre-recorded story—also hosted on the BrightSign server—when a child opens the door. “BrightSign provides the ability to have pre-scheduled video or audio content. We can also make changes to the programming as time goes on to keep it fresh for repeat visitors,” Sidorowicz said.  

D-Tools Saves the Day Through the Design Phase and Multiple Revisions

The $180,000 project spanned two years, making it one of the longest-running—although not the largest—project SAV has accomplished to date.

Using the copy-and-paste function within D-Tools SI reduced time during the design phase since several exhibits used similar components for audio, video, or control. 

Having parts tied to labor in D-Tools is also a time-saver when it comes to complex designs. Being able to edit those parameters helped SAV keep billing straight even for client-provided components. This proved especially helpful when an outside sponsor provided the equipment for one exhibit. “We were able to go into D-Tools and mark when the equipment was furnished by the client, so we didn’t have to change the pricing in our template,” Sidorowicz said.

The ability to add products that aren’t in the D-Tools catalog, including custom SAV-branded equipment, also came in handy. “If a product doesn’t exist in their portfolio, we can create it, assign it to a phase, assign a labor code to it, and then it will be there when we create drawings to share with the client,” she said.

As the budget and specs changed, as it is bound to on a project of this size, D-Tools made it possible to track all revisions. “We had seven revisions on the original project, and then three add-ons of new exhibits,” Sidorowicz said. “D-Tools helped us keep all that organized.”

For instance, one exhibit was cut in an early draft, and then new exhibits were added when SAV received the purchase order. D-Tools made it easy to keep billing in alignment with the changes.

On-the-Fly Changes

D-Tools’ capabilities also helped in another marquee area of the museum: the Playing Together exhibit. The area features a replica scoreboard composed of four 65-inch Sony Bravia 4K HDR professional displays and a small “ice rink” designed for sock skating. Children take off their shoes and pretend to ice skate on the smooth surface, while the screens above them display content provided by the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. 

Along with delivering content to the screens, the BrightSign player is also connected to cameras located throughout the museum, which capture images of children playing in other areas of the building and then broadcast them on the screen. “A kid might see themselves on the scoreboard, just like if you were at a game,” Sidorowicz described. “It’s great fun and gives the exhibit this “Buffalo feel” thanks to the emphasis on—and support from—our local pro football and hockey teams.”

One challenge to this exhibit was finding spots to place the cameras where they would be unobtrusive while capturing the desired images. “This wasn’t something we were able to plan out ahead of time,” Sidorowicz said. “Things changed on the fly, but D-Tools SI enabled us to make those quick changes, keep the client happy, and stay within budget.”

D-Tools Enables Continued Growth for SAV

The success of the Explore & More project solidified SAV’s relationship with D-Tools, proving that these size and types of projects are not possible for SAV without the software. It also opened doors to additional opportunities for the integrator. Sidorowicz says the company has several proposals out for other museum and entertainment experiences.

“I think we’re perfectly aligned for museums,” she said. “You have to have the commercial acumen to put together a project like this, but we’ve been doing unique and creative installations on the residential side forever. D-Tools helps us bring it all together and track big, multi-room projects so we can keep things on time and within budget.”

SAV currently D-Tools System Integrator SI 2019 V12 but the company keeps expanding the ways it uses the software and the number of employees who are trained on the platform. The integrator recently on-boarded a new project manager who had never used D-Tools, and Sidorowicz said she was pleased with how quickly her new employee picked it up. “In a matter of days, he was creating his own projects,” she observed. 

But Sidorowicz knows she has only tapped into a fraction of D-Tools SI’s capabilities. She plans to keep taking advantage of the training available, while also exploring the software on her own to learn about additional features to streamline workflow and enhance profitability. 

 

“We’re still only using the tip of the iceberg,” Sidorowicz said. “And it’s made projects like the children’s museum possible. We’re ready and eager to learn, to embrace new capabilities, and continue to grow with D-Tools.” 

AtlasIED SHS Speakers Battle Airport Noise at Military Training Facility

AtlasIED SHS Speakers Battle Airport Noise at Military Training Facility

Presentations given to troops at a military training camp near a busy airport are heard loud and clear thanks to SHS speakers installed by integration firm Ford AV.

After years of struggling to be heard over noisy airport traffic while presenting course material and training information to hundreds of military service members, officials at a military training camp were ready to rest their vocal cords and incorporate a top-notch presentation system into the 209,000-square-foot facility. They contacted national AV integrator Ford AV for an audio presentation system that could be easily retrofitted into several classroom and lecture halls throughout the campus without compromising the unique architecture of each space. The solution: Strategically Hidden Speakers (SHS) from AtlasIED. 

AtlasIED Audio System Promotes Powerful Presentations

“I think of great audio when I think of AtlasIED,” says Greg Banks, Ford commercial account manager, of the company’s decision to install 12 SHS speakers throughout the campus that serves as home base for several military branches and offers training to approximately 1,400 service members. “In the past, presenters had to resort to yelling to be heard,” adds Ford project engineer Daniel Bravo. “It was definitely time for a better approach.” 

Speaker Design is Kind to Campus Cosmetics

To achieve the coverage necessary to be heard over the noise from the nearby airport, each of five large classrooms and lecture halls would be outfitted with several AtlasIED SHS units connected to 70-volt, 2-channel amplifiers from AtlasIED. Cosmetics played a huge part in the project, as well, notes Bravo. “In addition to providing the sound dispersion necessary to be heard over the noise of the nearby airport, the SHS speakers afforded us the ability to easily fuse the technology with the unique structure of the facility’s pitched wooden ceiling.” 

Constructed of wooden tiles, the angled ceiling was an important architectural feature that needed to be preserved. The small form factor and simple installation method employed by AtlasIED’s SHS products enabled Ford to install a robust sound system without disrupting the ceiling cosmetics. “There was no room for error,” says Bravo. “If we were to damage a tile, there would be no way to easily replace it.” 

The Adaptive Dispersion Lens of the SHS measures a mere three inches in diameter, so the Ford installation team was able to drill into the ceiling tiles with a hole saw instead of a jigsaw. This minimized the impact on the wood and ensured a clean, accurate cut. To downplay the visual appearance of the dispersion lens that would protrude a few inches from the ceiling, Ford contacted the AtlasIED DesignLab prior to installation to custom match each speaker’s lens and micro trim to the grain of the wooden ceiling surface. The high-resolution printing process employed by the DesignLab rendered speakers that blended seamlessly into the training facility’s ceiling surface, yet filled the space evenly with audio via AtlasIED’s patented 180-degree dispersion technology. 

AtlasIED Amps Hide from Sight, Too

Ford wired the speakers of each classroom and lecture hall to its own local 70-watt, two-channel amplifier, the DPA-102PM, from AtlasIED. Due to the small form factor and unique pole-mounted design of this model, Ford was able to install each amplifier above the ceiling, completely concealed from sight. “There wasn’t ample space within the facility to put in a rack room, so the ceiling-mounted amps were ideally suited for this project,” Bravo says.  

A Perfect Union of Form and Function

Thanks to design and installation ingenuity from Ford and top-notch products that marry form and function from AtlasIED, the military base is able to provide high-quality training to service personnel in an environment that’s audibly comfortable and free of distractions. Students are able to clearly hear presentations no matter how noisy nearby air traffic gets, and the eye-pleasing design the AtlasIED Strategically Hidden Speakers and pole-mounted amplifiers raise no visual conflict with the unique architectural features of the facility.   

Video of Project

To see and hear more about the project and AtlasIED’s involvement in the engineering, design and installation process, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=RPRy-DbSVuc.

AtlasIED Joins USAV; Strengthens its Alliances with Commercial AV Integrators Nationwide

AtlasIED Joins USAV; Strengthens its Alliances with Commercial AV Integrators Nationwide

New membership to leading network of audio-video integrators broadens AtlasIED’s presence in the commercial and audio-video marketplace.

Phoenix, AZ (October 14, 2019) – AtlasIED, a global electronics manufacturer providing comprehensive audio and security solutions for commercial markets, announces that it has joined USAV as a preferred manufacturer partner (PMP), further bolstering its presence and participation in the commercial audio-video industries. Through this membership AltasIED will be able to develop strong partnerships with leading commercial audio-video integrators from across the country, building its dealer base and expanding its network to deliver its full range of audio solutions to leading projects nationwide. 

AtlasIED also becomes an education resource, providing training and renewal units for continuing education and certification. AtlasIED is committed to helping USAV dealers expand their offerings and increase profitability through services like complimentary design assistance for any size project.

AtlasIED’s powerful lineup emphasizes aesthetics, functionality, and exceptional audio fidelity—important attributes in commercial and security environments. Installation ease is a hallmark of the entire product portfolio, offering integrators a solid base to reach markets including corporate, retail, healthcare, educational, and hospitality.

“We are thrilled to expand our network of professional audio-video integrators by joining such a prestigious organization as USVA,” says AtlasIED President and CEO John Ivey. “Through this membership, we will be able to connect with more integrators, actively participate in marketing and training opportunities, and capitalize on special programming to bring new business to our company.” 

AtlasIED showcased a number of products from its comprehensive lineup earlier this year at InfoComm, held in Orlando, Florida. The solutions exhibited at the trade show are ideally suited for integrators in the commercial audio and security industries. These offerings, along with recent alliances with leading trade associations, solidifies AltasIED’s position as a company committed to the growth and prosperity of the high-end commercial audio and security industries. 

To learn more about USAV benefits and how AtlasIED is providing inspiration and insight to integrators pursuing the commercial audio industry, connect with the company via the web at www.atlasied.com.  

 

About AtlasIED

A global electronics manufacturer providing comprehensive audio solutions for commercial business environments, AtlasIED brings together the legacy, engineering skills, and legendary service of Atlas Sound and Innovative Electronics Design. After becoming sister companies operating independently in 2009, Atlas and IED united forces in 2015 to better serve growing market segments. Offering industry-leading mass notification, life safety, VoIP, background music, and sound-masking systems, AtlasIED delivers product lines that span wide and deep, with more than 2,000 innovative audio and security solutions for businesses of every size.

AtlasIED has nine locations and over 1,000 employees, as well as 120+ manufacturer representatives and distributors around the world to provide superior support to dealers and customers. Combined, Atlas Sound and IED products have been installed in more than one million businesses over the past 80+ years. AtlasIED is family-owned, with manufacturing operations in the United States that hold an ISO9001:2008 Quality Standards Certification to ensure consistently high-quality products, service, and support. Learn more at www.atlasied.com. Follow AtlasIED on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

 

About USAV

USAV, a division of PSA, bonds pro audio-visual affiliates together as an elite industry team. With integrator members throughout the U.S. and Canada, partnerships with top pro AV manufacturers and service providers, and alignment with leading industry associations, the advantage USAV provides is unparalleled by any other industry associations. USAV integrators provide clients with the benefit of a nationwide network of pro AV specialists and personal relationships with local AV experts. Learn more at www.usavgroup.net. 

 

All products, product names, trademarks, and registrations mentioned are the property of their respective owners, all rights reserved.

 

AtlasIED Media Contacts

Gina M. Sansivero, AtlasIED, (516) 901-8542, gina.sansivero@atlasied.com

Katye (McGregor) Bennett, KMB Communications, (425) 328-8640, katye@kmbcomm.com

  

AtlasIED Joins USAV; Strengthens its Alliances with Commercial AV Integrators Nationwide

AtlasIED Joins PSA and ESA; Provides Training on 70-Volt Training at PSA Conference

New memberships and participation with leading integration trade associations broaden AtlasIED’s presence in the commercial security and audio-video marketplace.

Phoenix, AZ (October 10, 2019) – AtlasIED, a global electronics manufacturer providing comprehensive audio solutions for commercial and security markets, announces that it has joined two leading security and audio-video trade associations, further bolstering its presence and participation in the commercial security and audio-video marketplace. AtlasIED is now a member of the PSA Security Network, and the Electronic Security Association (ESA). Through these memberships AltasIED will develop synergy and partnerships with leading security integrators from across the country, building its dealer base and expanding its network to deliver its full range of audio and security solutions to leading projects nationwide.

Commitment to the Security Industry

The memberships also position AtlasIED as an educational resource, providing training and renewal units for continuing education and certification. AtlasIED is committed to helping PSA and ESA members expand their offerings and increase profitability through services like complimentary design assistance for any size project. 

As part of its membership with PSA and commitment to the commercial security industry, Altas IED will offer training on 70-volt speaker systems to dealers attending the PSA TEC, April 20-23, 2020, in Denver, Colorado. The one-hour presentation will cover the basics of 70-volt distributed audio systems, provide best practices for configuration and installation, and compare low-impedance audio to high-impedance audio for security applications. 

“Overall, the 70-volt training course enables AltasIED to demonstrate how high-end audio systems can complement commercial security solutions, and positions Atlas IED as a resource and provider of full audio solutions for the security market,” says Steve Brooks, a trainer at AtlasIED.  “As a bonus, attendees are awarded 1 CEC at the completion of the course.”

AtlasIED’s powerful lineup of commercial audio and security solutions emphasizes functionality and exceptional audio fidelity—important attributes in commercial security environments. Installation ease is a hallmark of the entire product portfolio, offering integrators a solid base to reach markets including corporate, retail, healthcare, educational, and hospitality.

“We are thrilled to expand our presence in the commercial security and audio marketplace by joining such prestigious trade organizations as PSA and ESA,” says AtlasIED President and CEO John Ivey. “Through these memberships, we will be able to connect with more integrators, actively participate in marketing and training opportunities, and capitalize on special programming to bring new business to our company.” 

AtlasIED showcased a number of products from its comprehensive lineup earlier this year at InfoComm, held in Orlando, Florida. The solutions exhibited at the trade show are ideally suited for integrators in the commercial audio and security industries. These offerings, along with recent alliances with leading trade associations, solidifies AltasIED’s position as a company committed to the growth and prosperity of the high-end commercial audio and security industries. 

To learn how AtlasIED is providing inspiration and insight to integrators pursuing the commercial security and audio industries, connect with them as they participate as an event sponsor at the PSA Leadership Convention, Oct. 11-14, in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

About AtlasIED

AtlasIED is a global technologies manufacturer providing comprehensive audio and security solutions for commercial, corporate, educational, healthcare, retail, transportation, hospitality and government environments. Offering industry-leading mass notification, life safety, VoIP, background music, paging and sound-masking systems, AtlasIED delivers more than 2,000 audio solutions with a variety of resources to help security dealers sell, design and install audio communications technologies.

With nine locations and a network of manufacturer representatives and distributors around the world to provide superior support to dealers and customers, AtlasIED’s customer service is an industry benchmark that competitors strive to match. AtlasIED is family-owned, with manufacturing operations in the United States that hold an ISO9001:2008 Quality Standards Certification to ensure consistently high-quality products, service, and support.

Learn more at www.atlasied.com. Follow AtlasIED on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. 

About PSA

PSA is the world’s largest systems integrator consortium made up of security and audio-visual systems integrators in North America. Combined, PSA members boast over 400 branch locations, employ over 7,500 industry professionals and are responsible for over $4.5 billion annually in security, fire, life safety and pro audio-visual installations.

Learn more at www.psasecurity.com.

 

About ESA

Established in 1948, ESA is the largest trade association in the United States representing the electronic security and life safety industry. Member companies install, integrate, and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental agencies. Together, ESA member companies employ more than 500,000 industry professionals and serve more than 34 million residential and commercial clients. 

Learn more at www.esaweb.org.

 

All products, product names, trademarks, and registrations mentioned are the property of their respective owners, all rights reserved.

 

AtlasIED Media Contacts

Gina M. Sansivero, AtlasIED, (516) 901-8542, gina.sansivero@atlasied.com

Katye (McGregor) Bennett, KMB Communications, (425) 328-8640, katye@kmbcomm.com

  

Access Networks Expands into Canada, Naming the Watershed Group as Exclusive Rep and Distributor

Access Networks Expands into Canada, Naming the Watershed Group as Exclusive Rep and Distributor

Access Networks to deliver failsafe Wi-Fi networking options to dealers throughout Canada via new partnership with top luxury AV rep/distributor

Los Angeles, CA and Brantford, ON, Canada (October 1, 2019) – Access Networks, the premier enterprise-grade networking solutions provider for the modern smart home, proudly announced today that it is expanding into Canada and has entered into a partnership with hybrid rep/distribution firm The Watershed Group, which will represent the brand throughout the country. 

“When we decided we are going fully into the AV control category, we quickly learned from manufacturers like Savant and others that networking is crucial, and it was suggested that we get in touch with Access Networks,” says Mike Gatapoulos, VP of the Watershed Group. “The integration community needs access to the right products and education to take advantage of the opportunities that exist. The products and services that Access Networks provides allow integrators to get into the space without having to be networking engineers themselves. The alternative, until now, has been to cobble networking systems together. Access Networks offers a complete solution and we are excited to spread the word throughout Canada.” 

The Watershed Group puts an emphasis on representing luxury lines, and the products available via its manufacturers complement Access Networks’ offerings. The firm has deep experience and technical knowledge in the AV space that, in conjunction with Access Networks’ ACE Training program and Access Networks traveling with Watershed for sales meetings, will help Canadian dealers map out how to build the best and most appropriate network for high-end jobs without needing high-level networking expertise. 

The Watershed Group will work closely with Access Network’s North American Sales Director Ben Jurow to roll out the launch of Access Networks in Canada. 

“There are a lot of differences between the Canadian and US markets, but ultimately, everyone needs bulletproof wireless. And that’s what Access Networks delivers,” says Jurow. “Some dealers don’t know that there are better options and the pain points they are experiencing don’t necessarily need to exist. We are really excited that the Watershed Group is going to help us to understand the Canadian market and give these dealers the wireless networking options they’ve been waiting for.” 

For those interested in Access Networks sales opportunities in Canada, contact the Watershed Group

About The Watershed Group

The Watershed Group has evolved from its original predecessor, The Rep Company, which was established in 1995 as a regional rep-firm by Mark Lefler and Steve Davidson, both still at the helm today. As The Rep Company grew, so did their approach to the AV channel. Lead by outstanding technical knowledge, The Rep Company evolved from being a conventional rep firm into a new Canadian hybrid rep distribution firm. The Rep Company established a reputation for outstanding technical support for all the brands they represented. Over time, The Rep Company diversified their operations and approach to the marketplace and rebranded as the Watershed Group in 2011. Since then, T.W.G. has evolved into both a national and international distribution and design company. Learn more here: www.thewatershedgroup.ca/.

 

About Access Networks
Access Networks is the premier enterprise-grade networking solutions provider for the modern smart home. We design and maintain sophisticated network solutions based on a simple premise: keeping our customers connected. Access Networks assists custom integrators by working to specify, select, source, and configure the networking gear before it is shipped to the project site. From design and deployment to service after the sale, we are here to ensure our network solutions meet the bandwidth demands of today’s AV and control components and enhance the overall technology experience. Visit www.accessca.com and follow Access Networks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to learn more.

 

All products, product names, trademarks, and registrations mentioned are the property of their respective owners, all rights reserved.

 

Access Networks Media Contact

For interviews or media tours, please contact Katye (McGregor) Bennett of KMB Communications by phoning (425) 328-8640 or emailing katye@kmbcomm.com.