June 19, 2018
Business Profile

Brand boost: North Haven A-V tech company completes renovation

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Legacy audio-visual company HB Communications recently completed a high-tech renovation of its North Haven headquarters.

It took three years of planning and construction. But technology company HB Communications has completed a renovation of its North Haven headquarters.

It's not just any renovation, but an audio-visual overhaul that serves as an example of how its business clients can use unified technology it offers in their own workspaces — just as its team now does.

The family-owned company supplies audio-visual solutions such as digital signage, video collaboration and cloud services to its clients. HB Communications offers the market a real-life look at what those workplace audio-visual communication tools can contribute in terms of productivity and efficiency — bringing a little bit of Silicon Valley right to North Haven.

"There are so many different products out there," said Dan Barron, director of brand strategy. "It helps to see it boiled down in solution format, to see it working live. It makes a big difference."

Innovation legacy

HB Communications' high-tech renovation is merely the latest chapter in its history of forward-thinking leadership in the audio-visual field.

The company was founded as HB Motion Picture Service by Mackey Barron, Dan's late grandfather, who worked in film curation before joining the military.

A U.S. Air Force prisoner of war in World War II, Mackey Barron was freed from a POW camp in 1945. He spent time as a film-projector salesman after the war.

Barron then started the company in 1946, with a loan from a relative, after returning home from military service, according to audio-visual industry news site rAVe.

HB Communications now has over 400 employees and additional locations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

Called the "Audiovisual Ecosystem," its recent renovation, then, is a powerful illustration of the company's brand and the communication solutions it offers.

"Because the business we are in is audio-visual design, we wanted people to be able to come out and really understand and see how we apply these technologies," Dan Barron said.

The 14,000-square-foot area has a large, open section with room for events, collaboration, and socializing. Called the Hub, the renovated area includes communications solutions from makers like Samsung, Cisco and Christie, said HB Communications. It contains a 32-panel LCD video wall, café, surround and overhead audio, and conferencing cameras, for example.

The other important aspect of the working space is that it is easily transformable depending on its needed use at any given time, said Barron.

Alongside the Hub, meanwhile, are new workspaces that are designed with specific purposes, depending on what the company is working on at the moment.

Smaller conference nooks, a brainstorming room, a universal conference room and a 98-inch interactive collaboration wall where multiple laptops can log onto the screen and show their content all at the same time offer work process options.

A state-of-the-art network operations center is part of the redesign as well, said Barron. It includes a 25-foot-wide digital video wall by global A-V company Christie Digital Systems that allows HB Communications to manage its clients in real time.

"We have clients in over 30 countries, and can monitor their systems," for things like connectivity issues, said Barron. He said that the video wall can be used to support a client problem, but is more commonly used for overall operations monitoring.

The renovated headquarters also features a conference room with lounge seating; an area allowing for ad-hoc meetings between remote offices; and a state-of-the-art content studio for marketing videos, company announcements and broadcasts.

Barron pointed out that business communication issues can be a detriment to companies' success.

"For an organization to operate at its highest level, communication needs to be a top priority," said Dana Barron, CEO of HB Communications, Dan's father, in a press release. "Communication is one of the most overlooked challenges at work, on teams, and in relationships." Depending on the situation, options such as video conferencing can be preferable to emails, where tone can be misconstrued, for example.

Though Dan Barron said that the Hub will modify its technology as needed, it won't be change for the sake of change — just as HB doesn't push upgrades on its customers.

"We'll have the most current versions," he said, "but won't change what we don't need to. We won't upgrade just because. You have to be sure that whatever solutions you're designing have a direct and identifiable purpose," such as communicating face-to-face with overseas colleagues or clients.

With the headquarters renovation complete, HB Communications welcomes clients and visitors to tour the new space.

"Come and look at how we use it," said Barron. "Come check it out. It's a key part of our story, of what technology in the workplace can look like."

A virtual tour of the space is available here.

Reach Susan Shalhoub at news@newhavenbiz.com

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