The rental US market scored the win-win deal as Learfield and GoVision announced their merging on the 30th of June. Learfield, which is a diverse multimedia enterprise specializing in collegiate sports marketing, expanded its range of services with the professional expertise of GoVision, a provider of mobile and modular LED video technology for a variety of events. Managing nearly 1000 projects annually GoVision is one of the major players in the US rental market. In particular, the company’s equipment has been deployed for the NCAA Final Four basketball championship, the last three US presidential inaugurations, live broadcast of Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. Capitol, etc. We asked Chris Curtis, CEO, and founder of GoVision, how the merging will affect the company’s positions regarding future prospects and growth potential.
LSG Editors: Chris, in 2011 you received the accolades of the Innovation Impact Award for embodying the characteristics of leadership, innovation, and social responsibility. What do you think are the qualities needed to succeed in business?
Chris Curtis: I’m a big believer in hard work and team. We have worked hard to make that our culture. Also, I embrace the premise that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
As a father of 4 children and a successful entrepreneur, what is the main message you would give to your children?
Chris Curtis: Treat everyone with respect and do the right things. Sometimes that’s hard, but in the end, it comes back to you in great ways.
Chris, before founding GoVision you have started two other companies, the Motion Graphics, and the Screenworks. Eventually, you sold both of them to start GoVision, whose establishment leveraged an emerging trend of LED video technology. What are the reasons for selling GoVision now?
Chris Curtis: This sale is really about taking things to the next level. Learfield is a great fit for us both culturally and in the belief system. This deal will provide us with the backbone to grow to meet the ever-changing and demanding marketplace we serve. I view this as a step, not an end, whereas my other two sales were endings.
What was the most challenging project in GoVision’s portfolio?
Chris Curtis: Lots of our projects come with great challenges, logistics, weather, mechanical, electronically. Plenty can go wrong, but what separates the people who know what they are doing in this business from those who don’t is how they handle those situations. Live events don’t wait for the video company to fix their problems. The good news is we are experts in reacting to issues that arise and handling them quickly and effectively.
That said, the Presidential Inaugurations on the steps of the U.S. Capitol have probably been our biggest challenges. So many different entities are involved, not to mention the extraordinary security measures, it creates a lot of fairly unique logistical challenges.
GoVision completes a lot of projects in the field of entertainment. Does the recent acquisition by Learfield, which specializes in collegiate sports marketing, mean GoVision is to shift its focus to sports events mostly?
Chris Curtis: Absolutely not. If anything, we may open some entertainment doors to Learfield.
Some of our entertainment clients have asked the same question, and the fact is that Learfield resources are going to let us serve that market even better.
Sports and entertainment intersect so much already, and we can help clients on both sides. For instance, we handle the NCAA Final Four in-stadium stuff and then also do the screens and all the video production work for the music festival that the NCAA puts on with its sponsors and partner Turner Sports.
What is unique about US rental market?
Chris Curtis: It probably has some of the highest growth potentials in the world. Europe was already a massive outdoor festival market and the longer daylight created a need for our industry. Asia has saturations of gear. The U.S. just seems to be moving more and more visual and outdoor, which plays into our strengths.
Before acquiring GoVision, in 2015 Learfield took over the ANC Company, which is a provider of visual solutions including LED video technology. With the companies having similar expertise what is the role assigned for GoVision?
Chris Curtis: ANC is strictly a sales company, and we are mainly a rental company, so it works. We’re already finding many great ways to collaborate with them. That said, there is a ton of synergy and things we can do with and for each other.
Having expanded its range of services with the GoVision expertise, Learfield undoubtedly benefits from the acquisition. What are the advantages of merging for GoVision?
Chris Curtis: Resources, introductions to places we haven’t been before, some corporate help and expertise.
How will the transaction affect the LED rental landscape?
Chris Curtis: I expect it to help us continue to accelerate our leadership in the industry. I think it probably opens some people’s thought processes to where they need to align and find their partners.
Judging from years of experience, what would you recommend for young entrepreneurs who just embark on their own path?
- Find something you are passionate about.
- Make sure you have the right resources to get where you want.
- Have to be careful to make sure you are objective about your idea. I see lots of great ideas, but once you look at how you monetize those, for whatever reason they don’t work. If an entrepreneur is not willing to adapt their plan or abandon it, they will end up on a long road to nowhere.
- Learn all you can from those around you. I once was young and thought I knew everything. When you mature and realize how much you don’t know, that’s when the road opens to success.