While he doesn’t recommend rushing jobs, this project showed integrator Casey Johnston what is possible with the best equipment, extensive planning and an experienced team.
Once you’ve installed complete control and audio/video solutions in seven nearly identical restaurants, it can start to seem like a cookie-cutter operation. For Union City, N.J.-based Serious Audio Video, however, the eighth ELAN control installation in a Buffalo Wild Wings location was anything but standard.
Due to the company’s corporate mandate to redesign and upgrade each restaurant every seven years, the high-revenue North Brunswick, N.J. location was scheduled to be overhauled in 2017. As any business owner knows, you don’t want to interrupt a profitable operation, which meant that closing the location for four or five weeks was out of the question. According to Casey Johnston, Owner of Serious Audio Video, the time constraints made this an extremely high-stress job that required going way above and beyond the normal working call of duty. Luckily, the job centered around the easy-to-install, easy-to-use ELAN control system, ensuring that installation and configuration would be completed quickly.
“This is the only job I’ve ever been on where we needed three shifts of three-worker crews, working 24 hours a day,” Johnston said. “Although the business isn’t prohibitively far from our office, we had nine employees staying in a hotel down the road because we only had two weeks to do four or five weeks’ worth of work. On top of that, it wasn’t just us installing new technology equipment, it was all the different contractors working on top of each other - carpenters, electricians, flooring installers, and painters — the list goes on. The building was stripped down to the studs and everything was replaced. It was exciting to see a big project move that fast, but it was a pretty crazy environment to work in.”
Such a rapidly moving and crowded construction site meant a lot of pre-planning was required, so Johnston worked for weeks ahead of time to ensure that every component was in hand, every drawing and design was correct, and every employee knew their role and responsibilities. And in this case, it was a major benefit that the team had installed several very similar ELAN systems for other Buffalo Wild Wings locations.
“I don’t know if we could have completed this job in the time frame required if it was a one-off project and we hadn’t already known exactly what the client wanted and needed,” Johnston added. “At this point we know pretty much everything that’s going to happen during the install, and we run a tight ship in regard to the order in which things are done, who does what, and everything we need down to the literal nuts and bolts. Also, we knew that using the ELAN system was crucial to the job’s success, because it’s so much easier to program and get up and running than some other control systems. Had we been using a competing product that’s more custom-code-based, it would have been a mad rush to get the thing actually working while the paint was drying next to us.”
Due to the new floorplan and interior design, the team had to relocate dozens of speakers and TVs as well as add 33 new Aquos display panels, mostly split between 60” and 80” models, plus four massive 90” models. Integrators know that uninstalling and reinstalling equipment is basically double the work. Six new Crown amplifiers replaced the existing equipment, and a Knoll projector paired with a 110” Dragonfly screen capped off the audio/video portion of the upgrade. For the control side, Serious Audio Video added a new ELAN gSC10 system controller, a S1616A Multi-Room Audio Controller, Xantech IR equipment, a Dell PC, an Apple iPort mount for an iPad with the ELAN app, and a 17” Planar touchscreen that provides an interface in the equipment rack.
“If this job had come from a new client, I might not have even bid on it,” Johnston confesses. “Fortunately we have a great relationship with this franchisor [BH1] [JP2] and have completed installations in several homes of family and friends in addition to every N.J. Buffalo Wild Wings. It will continue to be a good partnership for both our companies, even as other locations come up on their seven-year redesign milestones. While this kind of rushed installation isn’t recommended or fun, working with experienced team members and familiar components help to make it manageable. My crew really showed their stripes on this job, and we now know that with planning, dedication, and a simple, reliable backbone like the ELAN control system, anything is possible.”
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