By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Staff Writer
BOZEMAN – Studio AV, a high-end home technology company based in
Bozeman, just took its boutique business to the national stage. VIA
International on Aug. 27 announced the finalization of a merger 20 months in
the making, partnering Studio AV with five other companies to create the
largest residential technology business in North America.
The deal pools the talent and resources of regional companies Cyber Sound,
Engineered Environments, DSI Entertainment, Paragon Technology, S3
Aurant and Studio AV into a conglomerate serving a large portion of the
western U.S. Their typical clients are high net-worth individuals often with
multiple homes, according to Randy Stearns, VIA CEO and founding member.
“We can [now] serve our collective client base with a greater pool of talent
and resources,” Stearns said. “Clients want consistency in how their systems
work. Now they can work with a single service provider and [have] common
user experience across their multiple homes.”
Those systems include private theater design and installations, lighting
control systems, and security and information technologies. “We’ll be rolling
out a cloud-based software platform by the end of the year to monitor every
aspect of technology in a home,” Stearns said.
“We’ll know if a wireless access point has dropped off line or the temperature
in a wine cellar is creeping up. Not only that, in most cases VIA will be able to
diagnose and resolve the issue remotely, enabling us to serve our clients
without sending out a technician.”
The idea of merging Studio AV into a larger company has been on the mind
of owner Cory Reistad since he opened its doors in Bozeman in 2004.
“The idea [was that] the company could spider out to improve the level of
service, talent and collaboration,” said Reistad, who opened Studio AV offices
in the Jackson and Missoula in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
A Bozeman native, Reistad opened a commercial satellite business called
Montana Teletech in 1999. He worked under a commercial contract at the
Yellowstone Club distributing all the video on-site, and formed a company
with the club’s audio contractor, Poindexter’s AV, in 2000. In 2004, Reistad
left to create Studio AV.
“This is a dream come true for me,” he said. “It compounds my aspiration of
taking a regional company into a national conglomerate, and to bring
together six business owners with different philosophies so seamlessly feels
like quite a feat.”
VIA has market share in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana,
Texas, Utah and Wyoming, but its sights are on a bigger piece of the pie.
Within a year, the company plans to begin to fill gaps in the west, in markets
like Seattle and Vancouver, and then into eastern markets like New York,
Miami, Chicago and Boston.
The six companies’ combined revenue in 2012 was $66 million, and Stearns
says VIA is aiming to hit $200 million by 2016. VIA has a clearly defined
expansion plan and acquisition strategy for growth in those new markets, he