As Suzette Kelly spouts off the latest must-haves in audiovisual equipment, it’s clear she’s a fan of the industry. But even more, Kelly, president of Divine Visual and System Corp. (www.divine visual.com), has dug her heels into a hot, male-dominated trade and staked her ground firmly. “Many people were expecting me to fail,” says the 33-year-old Kelly. “But that just motivates me.”
Kelly, a resident of Miami, is in the business of making audiovisual dreams come true, from extravagant home theaters to state-of-the-art video conferencing systems for corporate boardrooms. Divine Visual resells production equipment, video cameras, wide-range projectors, and media storage. On the higher end, the company sells and installs top-of-the-line LCD and plasma TVs, gigantic viewing screens and systems such as AMX, a touch-panel-controlled system capable of automating any home or business.
In 2004, Divine Visual generated more than $360,000 in revenues. Kelly projects the company’s revenues will hit the $1 million mark for 2005. There’s no doubt she is in a profitable field. Industry experts expect a 10% growth per year in AV products and services, as consumers remain hungry for more audio and visual communication solutions. It enhances work production on the business side and adds enjoyment and security to the lives of homeowners.
Media room design and installation, with all its required accoutrements — sound and image technology and accessories — are a sweet spot for electronics consultants, home contractors, and audiovisual retailers, who are staying busy turning family rooms into entertainment havens and business conference rooms into office communication hubs.
Additionally, the demand for AV products and services remains high across state and local governments, according to InfoComm International, a trade association for AV professionals (www.infocomm.org). The group’s 2005 AV Trends and Opportunities Study: State and Local Government reports that spending by state and local governments in the U.S. for AV systems is $1.2 billion annually.
The study predicts state and local government spending on AV products and services will rise as much as 12% each year for the next three years as demand grows for flat-panel displays, projectors, videoconferencing products, AV recording devices for education, public safety, emergency services, homeland security, and IT initiatives.
“The focus has gone from the school market to one that has 15 vertical markets,” says Randal A. Lemke, executive director of InfoComm International. The largest markets powering the $20 billion AV industry are the corporate sector, higher education, the military and healthcare facilities, he adds. “For the young entrepreneur, there are a lot of opportunities to create a business that can sell to any one of these vertical markets.”
From where she sits, Kelly says the best business opportunities are on the dealer side. Her early “bread and butter” clients were local schools — University of Miami, Broward Community College and Florida International University.
“She’s been able to match or come under competitor pricing,” says Sara Lee, a procurement specialist at Broward, who began placing orders for digital cameras, printers, and more from Kelly in 2003. Kelly impressed Lee as an ambitious woman unafraid to go up against larger