The History of Freeman Audio Visual

TELAV Audio Visual Services And I.S.T.S. – The Simultaneous Interpretation Specialists
A pioneer in the conference communications market, I.S.T.S.–The Simultaneous Interpretation Specialists–was founded in 1959 by Alex Thiel, and incorporated in Canada in 1964. The company expanded into the U.S. market in 1976, and they continued to expand their services through the acquisition of Multitone, in 1989. Today, I.S.T.S. has grown to become the largest supplier in North America of portable, semi-portable and permanent conference communications systems including simultaneous interpretation, multi-microphone discussion and name handling systems.

Up until 1982, I.S.T.S. had also been supplying basic audio visual equipment to many of its clients on a regular basis. As this segment of the company grew, they perceived the need to establish a separate entity to make its customers aware that they also specialized in the audio- visual segment of the meetings industry in Canada. This new company, called TELAV Audio Visual Services, was headed up by Alex Thiel’s sons; Robert Thiel was President and Harald Thiel was Executive Vice-President. TELAV started with a single branch office in Montreal, and subsequently opened additional branches in 1983 and in 1984, when they acquired Rutherford Audio Visuals in Halifax. Additional new branch offices opened through the next 15 years, and several acquisitions that included Northwest Media Centre in Vancouver and Victoria in 1989, and Adcom Presentation Group in 1999. By 2001, TELAV had 21 offices across Canada and two in the USA when they merged with U.S.-based AVW Audio Visual, Inc.

AVW Audio Visual, Inc.
Wynne Enterprises, a Texas-based family business, had operated as a production company, as well as an audio visual rental and sales company. Within a few years, the member of the Wynne family involved in the business decided to pursue the production of motion pictures, so six of the company’s employees decided to purchase the AV equipment inventory and rights to the Wynne name for limited number of years.

The company was officially incorporated on December 31, 1971, under the name Wynne Audio Visual, in Dallas, Texas. They had a total of 8 full time employees, two small vans, and a 4,000 sq. ft. warehouse. Their main customers included advertising agencies, with the largest events being exhibits at the State Fair of Texas. In an effort to minimize the former owners’ name several years later, the company was changed to Audio Visual Wynne, and then later, just the initials were used to create AVW Audio Visual. Two of the original company founders, Ed Goodman and Peter York, remained with the company for many years.

The company remained independent for several years, and in 1975, started expansion into other cities, first in San Antonio, followed by Houston. It was also during this time that an alliance was formed with an AV marketing company, AVW Meeting Services, headed by Mike Barns. Soon after, both entities were merged and became one of The Freeman Companies. These events marked the evolution of the company from a local provider of AV equipment rentals to a national company whose major clients included conventions and expositions across the U.S. They also continued to offer multi-media production services, and a division specializing in permanent design and installation.

With the resources of Freeman Decorating Co., the company continued to grow. In the early 1980s, they opened an office in New Orleans, followed by an Austin branch office. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw new offices in Chicago, Orlando, Nashville, and Atlanta. By 2001, the company employed over 600 full-time staff in 14 U.S. cities.

AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions
In 2001, two of the largest, most well-respected providers of audio visual equipment and technical support joined forces as AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions. Each company was founded by individuals who believed in providing clients with the best customer service and the most complete range of resources from a single source.

AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions offered a complete range of audio visual and presentation technology services throughout North America from their 32 locations. With over 1,300 full-time employees and $90 million in inventory, services included audio visual and computer equipment rental, event staging, simultaneous interpretation, audience response and multi-microphone discussion systems, exhibit and tradeshow solutions, webcasting, computer services, presentation management, press conferences and technical coordination for meetings, conventions, corporate events and trade shows.

AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions and Freeman’s U.S. Audio Visual Division
For more than 50 years, Freeman and AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions have worked together to produce world-class expositions and corporate events. With 28 offices and branches North America-wide, combined, we have 1250 employees, an equipment inventory valued at over $110 million, and an investment of $12 million in new equipment and technology annually.

In order to better serve the complete event needs of Freeman’s U.S. customers, AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions’ U.S. offices officially changed their name to Freeman January 1, 2008. The relationships with their customers didn’t change, but now U.S. customers have enhanced access to an unprecedented range of experiential marketing solutions, from a strategic partner with the creativity, insight and expertise to help them get the most out of their event.

As for AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions Canada
In Canada, AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions had been the country’s leading audio visual supplier for over 50 years. Canada is a different and distinct market place, and many of our Canadian customers have needs that are quite different from U.S. organizations.  For this reason, AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions Canada did not change in name or how we worked with our customers.

Located in 18 cities across the country, AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions Canada had equipment inventory valued at over $60 million and produced 90,000 events annually. AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions Canada offered a complete range of audio visual and presentation technology services coast to coast. These services included audio visual and computer equipment rental, event staging, simultaneous interpretation, presentation management, audience response and multi-microphone discussion systems, exhibit and tradeshow solutions, webcasting, press conferences and technical coordination for meetings, conventions, corporate events and trade shows of all sizes•

AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions Changes Name to Freeman Audio Visual
Effective January 10, 2014, AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions changed its name to Freeman Audio Visual.  Changing our name to Freeman Audio Visual gives Freeman significant brand visibility in Canada. Existing clients will see no change in their working relationships with their account teams; rather, the integration of the two brands will enable clients to explore the more tightly-integrated range of Freeman resources—from products and services, to the expertise of personnel, and the geographic reach of its locations.

Founded in 1927, Freeman is the leading global partner for integrated experiential marketing solutions for live engagements including expositions, conventions, corporate events and exhibits. Headquartered in Dallas, with over 70 offices in North America and the U.K., Freeman produces more than 4,300 expositions annually, including 135 of the 250 largest U.S. trade shows, and 11,000 other events worldwide. Customer-driven, Freeman offers a total package of solutions, with a scope of products and services unmatched by the competition.