West Enterprise Case Studies
Sligo Case Study: AVA Audio Visual
Husband and wife team Brian and Odilon Hunt set up their company in Sligo in 1995.
‘Brian was a broadcast engineer with the BBC and we relocated to Sligo from London in 1992. We saw an opportunity to bring the skills we had to a new market. Brian’s BBC broadcast engineering experience and Odilon’s administrative skills, combined to provide
technical expertise and hire equipment for conference and events, design, supply, install and integration of audio visual systems. AVA also provides specialist acoustic monitoring and consultancy services, designing solutions to deal with noise problems.
“The current economic climate is extremely challenging. Whereas the downturn in the economy is global, the West is particularly vulnerable to slowdown in the tourism sector. We have firm foundations and are ready to meet the challenges head on. AVA have developed services to meet client budgets and requirements, including hire of easy to use sound systems for clients to manage themselves and making video conferencing available on an hourly basis in our office in Sligo, saving clients cost of expensive equipment and travelling. ” says Odilon.
“Our clients include multi national companies, SME’s, financial institutions, Government departments, hotels, professional bodies, arts centres and community groups. AVA is now doing more servicing work as clients wish to maintain equipment rather than commit to capital expenditure. We have good relationships with our clients and being able to provide a local, professional, reliable service is paying dividends. We have also forged synergies with other local companies, enhancing the services we offer.” adds Brian.
AVA staff are customer focussed and flexible. The company invests in staff training and development and has won National awards. The 7 employees in AVA benefit from ongoing training from international suppliers and on-line courses.
“Sligo Sligo County Enterprise Board provides excellent support to small businesses in the county. We initially got a feasibility grant and have had ongoing support in the form of grants, loans, training and mentoring. SWIBN is a very dynamic ‘Women in Business” Network which provides a forum for networking, discussion and training with links throughout the country. There are lots of dynamic and successful business women in Sligo, and room for many more!” says Odilon.
AVA benefits from improvements in the road and rail network. The proximity to Knock Airport is an advantage. Broadband is widely available.
According to the Hunts, there is ‘no shortage’ of leisure amenities in Sligo with lots of clubs and social activities. In recent years Sligo’s profile has improved due to many festivals and events held throughout the year.
Despite the current challenges, Odilon is positive about the future, “As a small company with a wide customer base we are flexible in the services and products we offer, providing services based on customer demand. If we were based elsewhere we would probably operate in a more niche market and be more vulnerable to cutbacks in particular sectors.
“We focus on giving our clients value for money. This means being innovative, flexible, efficient, able to respond to changing demands and being financially prudent”, she adds.
Brian and Odilon would definitely recommend Sligo to others. Having had no family connections with the county when they first moved here, they have worked hard to grow and develop the successful business they have today. They believe that AVA Systems can and will grow from strength to strength, even in challenging times.
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