A Chat with Todd Vrzal, Director, Systems Integration

Todd Vrzal, Riverview Systems Group’s long-time Systems Integration Director, still remembers one of his first jobs at Riverview – the then technical challenge of installing slide projectors. “If that does not date myself, I don’t know what does,” Todd jokes. Today the work continues to grow in complexity with the Systems Integration Division designing and installing innovative audio/visual systems for universities, museums, Fortune 500 tech firms, startups, churches and specialty venues with methods that are developed and refined over the course of countless installation and systems integration projects and with the pace of technological advances. When he’s not helping clients meet their audio/visual communications needs, Todd can often be found on stage in one of the two bands he currently plays guitar in (one featuring our own Mike Noble, who was profiled in this space recently as well, click here).   Q: When did you get your start at Riverview? Todd: I started in October 1990.   Q: Tell us about the scope of services that the Riverview Systems Group Integration division provides. At what point is the integration team called in on a project?  Todd: In a perfect world we would be called in at the beginning of the wish list phase, but that is not always the case. So it is important to remain flexible whether you are an early bird or an afterthought. There are pros and cons to each approach.   Q: Can you name a couple of your favorite system integration projects and why? Todd: I would have to say the Santa Clara University (SCU) Library is one of my favorites. While I really do love all the projects we do — big and small — this is one of the biggest projects that we completed and has allowed us to make improvements to the facility over time. We recently had the chance to help design the upgrade for most of the rooms in the SCU Library that we helped install back in 2008. It was rewarding for Riverview to be involved with using our own knowledge and experience to implement a campus standard for their AV technology. By standardizing the equipment that they use and the overall design of classrooms and conference rooms they now have the ability to buy a spare product and be more self-sufficient in supporting the upkeep of the integrated systems. Over the years, we have also designed custom exhibits for museums for a very impressive list of clients such as the Smithsonian, The Getty Museum and the NAMM Museum of Making Music; each has been challenging and enjoyable in their own way.   Q: What are the challenges you face day-to-day at Riverview? Todd: One of the biggest challenges we face has always been the variety of experience our clients bring to the table. Our work is extremely diverse – sometimes we’re working with the volunteers at a religious institution who have limited technical experience and are timid about any knob they don’t recognize; other times with pro engineers that have a deep technological grasp. Today’s equipment control systems have become more cost effective and intuitive over the years so that we are now able to custom tailor a touch panel to cater to the experience/confidence of the end user.   Q: Tell us about a typical day at RSG when a systems integration project is about to load in.  Todd: On a load in day, we rally the troupes, load up the vehicles and make sure not to forget the coffee. Generally, when a project is at the beginning stages, our crew will meet at the RSG offices to load the equipment they are installing and collect the tools and materials they’ll need for the project.   Q: What is one of the most misunderstood aspects of your job? Todd: The variety of what we do. One of the most exciting aspects of working in the Integration Division is that one day you may be servicing a small audio reinforcement system and then the next you will be building the infrastructure for a multiple room projection system   Q: We hear you play guitar in a band. Tell us about that. Todd: Yes, I play in two bands actually. “The Four Blind Mice” (with Mike Noble, Riverview’s Director of Service & Repairs) is a combination of original songs and classic rock covers; and “Mambo Wally,” which is more focused on standard danceable rock tunes.   Q: What do you do outside of RSG to relax? Todd: To relax, I play music, go on bike rides and vacation whenever possible.   Q: What is one tool or gadget you can’t live without? Todd: For me, the Google Calendar is indispensable. We use it to communicate amongst ourselves, and the crew can log on and prepare themselves for upcoming projects, and I can stay on top of site surveys and client meetings.   Q: Last book, movie, TV show or album you loved? Todd: John Sanford’s novel “Extreme Prey”, the recent comedy film “Bad Moms”, “SNL” and The Struts album “Everybody Wants.”

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