After 11 years living and working in Bermuda, Tom Murray and Laurie MacKeigan were ready to head home to Canada to raise their two children. After years working in corporate jobs—Laurie as a VP of finance for a multinational investment bank, and Tom as the COO of an aircraft services company—their dream was to own their own business.
Despite knowing nothing about the audiovisual industry, the couple decided to buy integration firm Backman Vidcom from the retiring owner. A year after acquiring the company, Tom and Laurie brought in a third partner, Dave Rudderham, who serves as the Vice President of Technology. Those early years were challenging, Tom said, and the learning curve was steep. But then, things started to change.
“Once we began networking at industry events and meeting fellow integrators and manufacturers, we realized there were many people within the industry interested in helping and offering guidance and advice on every front. We are very lucky to be in an industry so supportive like that, and PSNI is the embodiment of that dynamic!”
Since that first year, Backman Vidcom has doubled both their revenue and number of employees, now at 22. And their efforts have been recognized across the industry. In 2017 the company received Commercial Integrator’s CI Integration Award in the Museum category for their work on the new Discovery Centre museum in Halifax. In 2019, Backman Vidcom was recognized as one of the AV industry’s fastest-growing firms by Commercial Integrator.
Backman Vidcom Gets by with a Little Help From their AV Friends
The learning curve behind them, today Backman Vidcom is a market leader for commercial AV design and integration services in Atlantic Canada. The company works with corporate entities, as well as venues such as museums, science centers, national historic sites, universities, airports, training centers, theaters, and wellness centers—in other words, most of the large venue projects in Nova Scotia. The company completed between 45 and 50 projects in 2019.
In addition to helping them find their footing in a new industry, PSNI has also helped Backman Vidcom expand their reach within that industry. A PSNI affiliate since 2017, Backman Vidcom has partnered with Genesis Integration, Westbury National, and is currently working on a project with Conference Technologies. And the company enjoys strong relationships with many other members of the PSNI Global Alliance.
“My most memorable PSNI event was my very first PSNI meeting,” Tom said. “It was the annual member meeting in Boca Raton. Everyone was so friendly, interesting, and welcoming. There was a golf outing, and we ended up playing the Canadians versus the Americans. We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.”
That sense of fun and belonging is also something Tom and Laurie work hard to create within their own company. The company operates according to four core values, Tom said— exceptional service, unwavering integrity, continuous improvement, and people, planet, profit. The Backman Vidcom mantra is “earn the next project,” and the company also works hard to earn loyalty and respect from their employees.
For example, during the holiday season, the company makes a $250 donation in each employee’s name to a charity of their choosing. The company also puts together a team every year for the Ride for Cancer program, a 75 kilometer bike ride to raise money and awareness for cancer patients and survivors. Staff outings throughout the year and an extra week of paid time off between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are other ways the company shows their appreciation to employees.
“We know how hard they work during the year, and these are small ways that we can say thank you,” Tom said.
PSNI Affiliates Set Themselves Apart with Superior Service
Just as the AV industry was new when Tom and Laurie got into the business, the industry continues to evolve and change. It’s exciting to be part of an industry that’s always evolving and innovating, Tom said, but to survive AV integrators will have to evolve and innovate as well.
“I think the streamlining of AV systems and IT will continue with rapid speed, but with more scrutiny on security. The move away from hardware devices to software devices, on a network or in the cloud, will proliferate,” Tom said. “As we continue to enter the IT space, I would like to think that we will also develop better common industry standards, something the AV industry has lacked but which the IT industry is masterful at.”
In addition, Tom predicts a consolidation in the marketplace, both for integrators and vendors, that will require smaller firms to set themselves aside with superior service.
“Big companies will continue to get bigger. Small and medium sized companies will either merge with them or become bespoke, boutique providers of a unique or specialty AV service,” Tom said. “The landscape may change, but customers will always be looking for alternatives, and integrators who invest in training to deliver high quality service will be in demand. Customers will set a high bar for their service expectations, and integrators will be measured by their performance.”
You can learn more about Backman Vidcom here.
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