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Keeping the Economic Faith: Houses of Worship Roundtable

Oct 9, 2009 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley

Six industry experts weigh in on the current and future HOW market.


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With the down economy, AV integrators are seeing a wide range of impact in the HOW market. For example, halfway through the audio system renovation at Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Mich., the design had to be changed to include less expensive L-Acoustics 115XT HiQ loudspeakers placed individually rather than in an array, which have would required more boxes.

With the down economy, AV integrators are seeing a wide range of impact in the HOW market. For example, halfway through the audio system renovation at Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Mich., the design had to be changed to include less expensive L-Acoustics 115XT HiQ loudspeakers placed individually rather than in an array, which have would required more boxes.

In a recent interview on cnet.com, Brady Boyd, pastor of the 10,000-plus member nondenominational New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., cast the relationship between church and technology in simple monetary terms: “because technology is so expensive, churches sometimes stay put. They stop advancing because cost-wise, it’s just so difficult to keep up with the latest technology.”

Amid a two-year-long recession, it’s difficult to analyze anything except through the prism of economics. So we asked several leading systems integrators and consultants who specialize in the house of worship market for their thoughts on digital and dollars under the nave. They are John Westra, president Audio Design Specialists in Madison, Wis.; Tim Carlson, executive vice president at AMT Systems in Santa Clarita, Calif.; Ian Budd, president of ICB Audio & Video Equipment in Cincinnati; Dan Clayton, principal with Clayton Acoustics Group in Carmel, N.Y.; Val Dempsey, CEO of Communications & Entertainment in Atlanta; and Bill Thrasher, president of Thrasher Design Group in Kennesaw, Ga.

SVC: In an era of lowered expectations, what are your HOW clients doing in terms of upgrades versus new AV systems? Are they opting to keep existing systems going no matter what, or do they see this as a buying opportunity?

Carlson: More money would be spent if we weren’t in a recession, certainly, but I’m not seeing any pullback on production values. The expectations for higher quality are still there, but in many cases, they’re deferred. A church might realize it needs a new sound or video system, but it just laid some employees off. So some projects will be on hold as a result.

Budd: We have been seeing a tendency towards maintaining the existing systems or adding features to the existing systems—all with a goal of keeping within a lower budget driven by lower giving.

Clayton: Lately, many of our clients have begun by lowering their expectation of how much they would like to pay us. [Laughs]

Dempsey: The opportunity is that every buyer in any industry is spending less than usual and expects better deals. This economy has put some projects on hold or scaled back due to funding.

Thrasher: It’s in-between. A lot of what’s going on is replacement of components or system expansion rather than installing complete new systems, but it’s a buying opportunity for the replacement equipment.



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