Gerald Abualy is the CEO and Managing Director of Captus Systems, a leading Commercial Audio-Visual Design and Integration firm located in New York, USA.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
In the 1990’s I was working for the third largest enterprise software company in the world. We had offices all over North America, and in more than 50 countries. One day, I was in the middle of a presentation to more than 40 people in the Conference Center and an additional 50+ folks on the “audio-bridge”. Nothing was working. My PowerPoint presentation was upside down and backwards on the rear-projection screen, and the integrated audio conferencing was not working either; so the “AV Guy” was called. He pointed the gooseneck podium microphone to the desk phone and put it on speaker. He then crawled through a hidden door into the rear-screen room and “fixed” my presentation. That’s when it clicked! If this world-renowned, leading software company can’t make their own collaboration technology work, then who can? Nine months later I resigned; much to my wife’s dismay. Hence, began my Audio-Visual Career.
Throughout, my focus has been to help enterprise, corporate, and higher end clients meet the expectations of the people in their organizations. We started with organizations based in the NYC metro area, which ultimately brought us to many clients across North America and then eventually, to Europe and Asia. It’s been an unbelievable journey!
2. What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
Keeping-up with the latest products and technology is always tough, especially for people who are new to the industry. It can be overwhelming. That being said, at Captus Systems, our job is to exceed expectations. If we can understand what’s in our clients’ minds – then exceed it – we’ve done our job. The technology will come to those who want to learn. It’s the understanding of what our clients want and need that takes focus.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
No two projects are exactly the same. There’s always a challenge that needs our attention. But most importantly, working on a team is truly a positive. It’s the most rewarding part of the industry! Everything we do takes a team. At Captus Systems, we are fortunate to have assembled a very strong team, built with passion, knowledge and integrity. Technology without people who care is a recipe for disaster (Think “2001 Space Odyssey” or “Terminator”).
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4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?
We’re not here to change the industry…. that’s like trying to change the weather. We are a Professional Service Organization, so we don’t actually manufacture anything. We Design. We Engineer. We Install. We Commission. We Support. We Consult. We Offer Solutions.
We leave the industry problems to others. But with all that being said, what the industry does need is more woman in AV and technology in general.
5. Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?
Our ideal client generally has used technology, and has had a less-than-favorable experience. They have a clear understanding of a problem but don’t know the solution. They know that it can be better (probably MUCH better). They need someone to show them how.
What our clients should know before hiring us is how PASSIONATE we are about solving problems. It’s what we do!
6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing! I’m the type of person who always looks forward. That attitude has served me well throughout my life and career. We work hard to impart that philosophy on the Captus Systems Team.
The AV industry is innately moving forward, so my forward-looking predisposition fits right in with our business model.
7. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
I devote a significant part of my day to cultivating new and maintaining old relationships and friendships: Keeping in touch with clients…What do they need? How did we do? How can we improve? Meeting with or speaking to industry leaders on all sides of the equation: vendors, partners, engineers, architects and manufacturers. I think of it as building trust. Trust is hard to build – it takes time. But when you have it you don’t want to lose it. I have found that investing in Trust-building activities pays the highest dividends for years to come.
Also, since as an industry we rely on the people who make up the Captus team to deliver solutions, finding and developing people so that they can reach their full potential is a large part of my day.
Other parts of my day include the focus/mantra for me and our team: Deliver Well! (I also make lists and read a lot.)
8. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
My software background has always been in the forefront of my mind. But until recently, I found that the types of systems I wanted cost much more than what we could afford. Luckily, the internet is there to help! We’ve invested heavily in Cloud-based technology systems which allow for our team members to always be connected – fostering better (and less expensive) communication. Also, these systems allow us to communicate with our clients, partners, and vendors in the most efficient way possible. Every day, we make improvements and add new features to our processes.
The team hears me say this all the time: “If we sell and deliver technology to make our clients’ lives more efficient, then we should be using technology to provide the same for the Captus Team”.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
Whether or not we’re relevant is not up to us – it’s up to our clients and partners. We have our best practices -which include training, industry publications, keeping-up with the latest technology, blogs, and social media platforms. Most importantly – we lead with our expert engineering team; that’s key. If our practices are working, then we’re relevant. If not, we change them.
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