GoVision founder sees more growth on company’s 10th anniversary

by / Thursday, 29 March 2012 / Published in Feature Articles

By Scott Nishimura

ARGYLE — Call it the ultimate man cave.

A 15-by-34-foot Panasonic LED video wall sits in the warehouse offices of GoVision, an Argyle company that rents truck-mounted video screens and larger modular video walls to sporting events, festivals and block parties across the country.

GoVision, which is marking its 10th year, recently signed an exclusive deal with Panasonic to lease LED units and is doubling the company’s modular-unit inventory, said company President Chris Curtis. The video wall breaks down into 100 smaller modules for easy transport.

It’s the third time GoVision has significantly boosted its inventory. The company reached a deal in 2009 with Cowboys Stadium to lease its big exterior video units, removing them between games and in the offseason. A year earlier, GoVision struck a deal with TCU to rent its video screens at Amon Carter Stadium.

The first big event for the Panasonic units will be the U.S. Open tennis tournament this summer in New York, where GoVision will dispatch four trucks and four technicians and hire about a dozen local workers to erect four video walls.

In its 10 years, GoVision has rented video units to 1,860 events, including the last two presidential inaugurals, the Carrier Classic college basketball game last fall on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, the Boy Scouts of America 100th anniversary, Texas Motor Speedway races, the 2010 PGA Championship and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth. Its screens have popped up at the NBA All-Star game and events connected to the Super Bowl and Major League Baseball All-Star game. GoVision will handle the Ryder Cup golf tournament for the first time this year.

Curtis, 50, a TCU alum, founded GoVision after several years in the field, including working for Jumbotron and buying an ownership stake in another firm. He discussed his business recently with the Star-Telegram.

How did you get your start in the business?

I had been in the business with Jumbotron. I was the first person to put a Jumbotron video unit on a truck in the U.S.

How many events do you expect to do this year?

Four hundred events this year.

Let’s talk about the technology.

The real change came from switching to the LED technology from the Jumbotron technology [before GoVision started]. It’s cheaper, lighter, it consumes less power, it’s longer-lasting and it’s brighter. [With the LED technology], we can be in the $4,500 to $7,500 [per-day rent] range. All of a sudden, the festivals can afford us.

What are the rents?

For the [four GoTron, three GoBig, and one GoBigger] vehicles, $4,500, $7,500, $15,000. For the modulars, it depends on which screen and what size.

How much of your inventory do you own?

Probably a third of it is ours.

How did the Cowboys deal impact the business?

The Cowboys deal quadrupled our modular inventory. We don’t talk about sales, but we were probably up 50 percent that year.

How did the recession treat you?

Our gross sales have grown every single year. The recession really cut into margin. Everybody wanted to negotiate with us. We were still able to eke some gross revenue gains out, and we will be back to pre-recession margin this year.

How big is the U.S. rental market?

We think it’s around a $200 million market.

How many competitors do you have?

There’s about 10 people our size. And there’s a lot of people who have one trailer or a small screen. We focus on the mission-critical, where [customers] are about quality. If the show goes on without you one year, it’s going to go on without you in the future.

What kind of client retention do you have?

In 10 years, I think we’ve lost one client from our doing.

What happened in that case?

It was a store opening. We had a screen malfunction that shouldn’t have been, because the technician didn’t know what he was doing.

What kind of video setup do you have in your own home?

That’s a funny story. I bought my first flat screen for my own home last week. When I sold my last business, I had a 65-inch rear projection TV that I kept. It was not the most up-to-date technology. I just paid so much for it.

(From the Fort Worth Star Telegram, March 26, 2012)