Tag Archives: Chats

A Chat With Gary Villegas, Account Manager & Technical Director

At Riverview Systems Group, our people and values are the souls of our business. It’s time again to pull back the curtain and spotlight a member of the #Team Blue family with professional and personal insights, stories from the road, and more.

This month we’re sitting down with Gary Villegas, our newest Account Manager and Technical Director, to learn about how he weaves courage and passion into his daily work. He joined our team late last year but still has the enthusiasm of a kid in the candy store, which he brings to the office every time he walks through the doors.

Gary discovered his passion for creating experiences while studying Theater and Art Studio at the University of California at Santa Barbara. After graduating, he spent time working in technical publications while pursuing acting on the side. He moved to Los Angeles shortly after and worked as a video engineer for Burbank-based rentals and production house. Gary then spent 12 years as Event Technology Director in the San Francisco Bay Area’s hospitality industry. He joined the Riverview family in September 2019. In his spare time, Gary enjoys playing guitar with his kids and fabricating wooden furniture and toys for them.

Q. How long have you been at Riverview, and tell us about your current role?

GV: I am a newer team member of the Riverview family and have been with the company for a little over a year. As an Account Manager & Technical Director, I enjoy taking clients through the discovery process and helping them craft memorable experiences using event technology, which has always been a passion of mine. I also love setting up my technical team members for operational success, ensuring they have all the information they need to execute a show for our clients flawlessly.


Q. What is the one thing you have seen at Riverview that stands out above the rest in the world of AV Production and Events?

GV: I believe what stands out above the rest is the exceptionally talented creative team, our technical support & repair team, and the extreme detail level that goes into every Riverview event. My background was hospitality event technology—I was used to a much faster and frenetic event cycle. It has been exciting to see what is possible when clients are given an elevated level of care and support that is characteristic of ALL Riverview events. The result is an award-winning company that has been in the business for over 30 years.


Q. How have you seen Riverview pivot during the pandemic?

GV: “Pivot” has become a popular word in our industry due to the pandemic — I hesitated using the term early on as I explored what pivoting truly meant. Where are we pivoting? We know what happens when pivoting fails — longtime business partners and friends shutter their doors and leave our beloved industry behind, either temporarily or permanently.

At Riverview, I am so proud to be part of such an innovative team. Seeing how our company has evolved during the pandemic, embracing the challenge, and quickly finding creative solutions has truly been inspiring. For example, our team transformed sections of our 70,000 square foot headquarters into a full broadcast and production studio facility. We also adopted new tools and workflows around virtual events. As such, I now use the word pivot with so much more confidence as we guide our clients through our new virtual world.


Q. Tell us something we might be surprised to know about you?

GV: I used to love acting, theatre, and singing in choruses. I once briefly was a certified tax preparer and real estate agent/loan officer way back.


Q. What is one of your favorite vacation memories?

GV: One of my favorite vacation memories is when I took my family to Ireland to visit a good friend. He was a former public relations specialist in Corporate America. He ditched it all and bought a farmhouse in County Cork with beautiful, breathtaking landscapes and hillsides with horses running around!

Watch for our next chat coming in December, highlighting another member of the Riverview family. You won’t want to miss it! Stay safe out there.   

A Chat With Valerie Henry, Accounts Payable Manager

Ask Accounts Payable Manager Valerie Henry, the Riverview veteran who’s been working at the company for a total of 16 years, in an array of roles, what the secret is to keeping track of nearly 50 RSG employees, plus the numerous union employees that work with the Riverview team at live events and the myriad of ancillary accounting items she’s responsible for and you get a simple answer: Organization, Communication, and Consistency.

Valerie took time to talk about her history as a Team Blue member and the evolution of her role.

Q. You have held various positions at Riverview in the financial realm. Tell us about your history at Riverview, and your current role as Accounts Payable Manager.

VH: I started working at Riverview part-time when I was in high school as the Accounts Payable Assistant. At first, the job required simple filing, but then I learned how to calculate hours, enter in invoices etc. I left Riverview for a while and returned in 2005 as Receptionist and Purchasing Agent. In this position, I helped out our AP Manager when needed drawing on earlier experience as an assistant.

I was offered my current position when it opened up in 2014. Since then I have implemented new procedures for employees to turn in hours and union workers to turn in forms to narrow the margin for error. I’ve received great feedback from our staff employee’s on these changes. I pride myself on being attentive and look over every invoice to ensure they are paid on time and take advantage of things like early pay discounts, which decreases Riverview’s overall spending.

Q. With nearly 50 full-time RSG employees and many union employees that work with the RSG team at live events, how do you keep track of items such as hours, expense reports and payments to vendors?

VH: Organization, communication and being consistent are key. These factors are important when entering expense report items so they are not submitted twice, organizing payments to our vendors and communicating with our hourly employees to make sure they’re hours are properly accounted for. I also work closely with Riverview department heads on creating systems to improve and streamline how hours are turned in, which benefits all our hourly employees and helps me stay organized.

Q. What are some of the changes you’ve seen over the years that have helped you support your Team Blue members? Have there been advancements in technology that have helped make your job easier? Similarly, what tool or technology could you not live without professionally?

VH: It’s an understatement but the Internet has changed everything in the accounts payable department and the way we handle payments to suppliers and other creditors. I cannot work without Google Drive now. Instead of receiving hours via fax (yes I was around when documents were faxed) or email, employee hours can be revised on a file in Google Drive and emailed to the department. With Google Sheets, any changes that need to be made happen in real time and hours can be inputted/updated in an instant. In some instances, I’ve needed to submit payroll an hour after receiving updates from the google sheet. I also cannot live without my 10-key keyboard.

Q. Describe what a typical day is like for you.

VH: My day-to-day work schedule revolves around the date when payroll needs to be submitted. If it’s payroll day then it’s like being a parent. There is no such thing as being on vacation, being sick or having an emergency. On those days, I don’t work on anything else until I hit that submit button. If I’m not working on the current payroll I’m actively preparing for the following one — entering in invoices, cutting checks or reconciling the credit card bill. About once or twice a year, when Riverview is involved in a large show, you’ll find me on a loading dock at 6:00 am or midnight assisting our Field Operations Director to marshal our gear to and from the show floor and collect union payroll forms. I enjoy being able to go out to show sites to see an event come to life.

Q. What would surprise people most about your job? What is your favorite part of the job?

VH: I think what would surprise people is that it takes an entire work day, sometimes longer, to reconcile the company credit card bill. But I do feel a sense of accomplishment once every single charge is entered into our system and the account is reconciled. The favorite part of my job is really the people that I work with. I’ve known so many of them since a young age and we are more like a family here and I love helping out whenever I can.

Q. Outside of Riverview we understand you are a fan of classic cars. Tell us more about that.

VH: Yes, I love classic cars. My mother had a 1970 Malibu back in the day. I always wanted a 1970 Chevelle SS and got one from my fiancé for my birthday. It’s a pet project — the car still needs an engine and bodywork — but we have the transmission for it. My daughter’s name is Chevelle and she loves classic muscle cars too. When she was just starting to talk and we were at the Good-Guys Car shows she would hear the engines rumbling and tires screeching from the autocross and say she wanted to see the “Vroom Vrooms”. Now she is six years old and says she wants to be an NHRA Drag Racer like Brittany and Courtney Force.

Q. Any recent movies you loved recently? TV shows you’re binge-watching? Favorite song or band at the moment?

VH: I watch a lot of Disney movies with my daughter, but once she is asleep I watch “The Real Housewives” religiously. On Netflix, I’m hooked on “El Chapo” and “Narcos.” After an episode, I’m always Googling the events that happened on the show because I’m usually in disbelief of some of the crazy things that happened in real life. I also love music. Music is always playing wherever I go. My playlist is diverse. I listen to everything from Tupac, Santana, Bob Marley, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sublime, The Temptations. Rap, R&B, Rock, Alternative, Spanish, I listen to it all.  It makes me laugh when my music is shuffling and it goes from Metallica to Vicente Fernández.


A Chat With John Hunter, Director Warehouse Operations

In 1995 Pixar’s first movie “Toy Story” opened in theaters, eBay went live, Christopher Reeve was paralyzed and the Grateful Dead played their last concert ever. It was also the same year a young John Hunter joined the then 8-year-old Riverview Systems Group’s video department. His tactical and organizational skills didn’t go unnoticed for long because in less than a year at Riverview he was promoted twice.

 “I’ve been the warehouse manager essentially for about 21 years and 3 months out of the 22 years working at Riverview,” John recalls. “The overall job has not changed over the years, really only gaining more responsibilities over time.”

 It’s true, managing Riverview’s immense warehouse that houses the company’s technological life-blood is not a job for the faint of heart. The Riverview warehouse is 70,000 square foot, housing an array of gear ranging from traditional theatrical lighting fixtures to modern LED luminaires, audio systems, projectors, graphic switchers, screens, flat panel displays, scenic design elements and more.  On call 24-7 unless he’s on vacation and/or out of state, Hunter’s responsibilities include facility maintenance, shipping and receiving, staffing local events, and coordinating logistics within the company’s various departments, including installation.

John took a few minutes out of his day to share with us the challenges his job presents, his well-honed ability to adapt quickly to the ever-changing schedule and his love of video games.


What were the early days like in the warehouse?

JH: At our first location there were no loading docks, which required forklifting all of our audio, video, lighting and staging equipment into the trucks then hand- lifted into place. The process was slow and hard and, of course, if it was Tuesday or Friday we had to work around the local bingo hall we shared the parking lot with. Sometimes the folks would show up as early as 2 pm to get their favorite spot close to the door, which often impacted our operations.

Riverview’s second location was more efficient because it had two docks, but we were only able to use one. The loading process was better, but still, with 8-9 trucks going out on any given day, the warehouse was a sea of boxes.  When we had super crazy busy days you would have to walk on top of the boxes because there was no space on the floor of the warehouse.

We moved to our current headquarters 5 and a half years ago and the warehouse now has 4 inbound docks and 4 out bound docks. This allows us to have equipment coming in while we load the outbound trucks. We also have double the amount of floor space.

Take us through a typical day for you?

 JH: By the end of the previous day I am already thinking about plan A, and a ‘what if’ plan B for the next day. I arrive at the office early to prep for our daily 8:00 am warehouse meeting where we go over safety issues or concerns of up coming shows and orders to be pulled. We’ll also talk about projects that need to start and give everyone a general idea what’s going on for the day and week ahead. After that, I usually do a lap around the office to ask the account managers questions about shows, or staffing or orders, and then check my email to see if anything needs immediate action. I also look over upcoming orders to make sure we have the right size trucks for the job or if I need to rent additional ones.

From there I visit each department inside the warehouse: Shipping/Receiving, Video, Audio, Lighting, Projection, and Scenic, to follow up on the order being pulled and track progress and update my show/delivery whiteboard outside my office. I’ll also meet with my drivers and go over daily deliveries and pickups and oversee loading or unloading trucks. On truck loading days it is crucial that we balance the weight of the equipment in the truck properly. If the truck is unbalanced or overweight, it might come back and need to be unloaded and reloaded. So it is important to get it right the first time.

As Warehouse Manager, keeping constant track of your inventory and the logistics involved with it sound daunting. What are some the challenges you face day-to-day? How do you deal with those challenges?

 JH: I spend a lot of time looking, watching and listening. At times I feel like the character Radar from the TV show “MASH” because having done this job for such a long time I’ve built up an intuition about potential issues. I’ve also developed the ability to adapt quickly to live event schedules that change frequently. I very rarely say “no that can’t happen.” I usually try to offer at least two solutions to work out any problematic situation.


Do you recall a particular project or event that was especially challenging?

JH: No particular project leaps to mind. Every day we’re shipping out as much 250,000 pounds of freight. Just making sure equipment gets into the right trucks so it can be delivered on the correct day and time is a challenge. We have a very detailed process for making sure we get it right involving color-coded labeling, staging lanes and order completion reports that I read closely, looking for gear that’s been mislabeled or misplaced. Maybe once every couple of years a piece gets on the wrong truck, but it’s never resulted in anything dramatic, usually, there is a workaround.


Is there a tool/gadget/software/app, etc. you must have to do your job?

JH: Not many in my world. I will tell you painted lines marking the size of the trucks we load — 16, 24,53 feet — on the warehouse outbound floor helps in making sure the orders will fit in the trucks. Also, shipping container scales are important for us to figure out how many trucks we need and help resolve the “too much gear and not enough truck” issue on the orders.

What is your favorite part of the job?

JH: I love that I never really know what the day will bring. I can anticipate and have a Plan A and Plan B, but based on my years of experience every day is a new challenge. Whether it is extra deliveries or extra pickups, shifting resources when people are sick or vehicles in repair, or a job site or installation that needs extra servicing. No day is ever the same and I love it.

Tell us something your co-workers might be surprised to know about you?  

JH: I just celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary. When I was 10 I lived in Holland for 2 years after my dad accepted a job there, so I got to travel all through Europe at a young age. I also love videogames – from my youth spent playing arcade games like Asteroids and Defender for hours on a single quarter, to Xbox games today like Battlefield. 


What do you for fun outside of work?

JH: Besides video games, I love visiting craft breweries with my son, as well as spending time with my wife and our 2-year-old Anatolian/border collie mix rescue dog.

What’s the last movie you loved, TV show you binged, last song you downloaded and/or last book you read?

JH: I love the TV show “Suits,” as well as the recent Star Wars reboots “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One.” I also recently finished reading Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation.”


A Chat With Jon Haworth, Senior Technical Director

Jon Haworth has seen it all at Riverview. Beginning his career in 1995 as a truck driver, and after just two months found himself quickly promoted to video tech, which led to his current role as Senior Technical Director overseeing show management, involving the delicate balancing act of properly allocating the company’s vast technical, creative staffing resources, as well as basic account management, making sure clients are happy with the final result. As Haworth notes, “The best part of working here is that there’s always something new to learn. Riverview is on the leading-edge in investing in new technology because it is important for our clients that we stay on the forefront so we can make the right recommendations. We’re also rich in our internal resources. I’m proud of the fact that a lot of those folks have been with us for a long time. That says a lot about CEO Evan Williams and the culture he’s created.” And like so many other Riverview team members, in his spare time Jon is a musician (a bass player to be exact) and when he’s not managing the plethora of client demands he can be found performing (one gig was at Williams’ daughter’s wedding in 2016), or mountain biking in the great outdoors of Northern California or whatever far-flung location his job takes him.   Q: Your business card says Senior Technical Director. What does that actually entail? JH: Well, in the industry a technical director is responsible for all aspects of production. I consider myself more of a resource manager making sure that all of the departments involved in a project have the equipment and personnel that they need, and clients get the deliverables that they have requested. My job is also inclusive of account management duties, and for larger Riverview productions can even take on more of an account exec role in concert with other account managers and technical directors. I’m often involved with the first client call, all the way through the delivery of the show cycle. We’ve always had a very personal approach to account management here at Riverview. We each have our own cadre of clients that expect to see our smiling faces on site and be on every phone call.   Q: You’ve been with Riverview since 1995. How has technology impacted your job? JH: It’s ironic because we’re a tech-heavy company but for me, personally my cell phone, which is an Android by choice because I do most of my work with Google apps, and my laptop are the technology I need most in order to do my job. There are always customers that are looking for what is the latest and greatest so I need to keep abreast of the latest live event technology advances so I can make the right recommendations to clients and have knowledge about how all the systems work together. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a team of talented people here at Riverview who have their brains firmly wrapped around the technology.   Q: Given that you’re often the first point of contact for clients who may not be familiar with the technology that goes into live event production. Is it a challenge for you to interpret what they’re looking for into actual deliverables?  JH: Oh yeah, that’s sort of the bread and butter of the job. The client may or may not have a strong technical background but they know what they want to see. Since there are very few ‘money is no object’ clients, my job boils down to translating their vision into a technology solution, whether it’s scenic lighting, audio, video, etc., and setting expectations within budget realities to deliver a fantastic result.   Q: So what is a typical day like for you? JH: There is no such thing here at Riverview as a typical day. On a day-to-day basis, I am either working a project, interacting with a client, managing a budget, working with our internal resources on staffing, hiring freelancers as necessary, and managing union labor, which can be complex depending on the location. Internally, I’m often collaborating with our creative services team to develop the technical requirements for a particular show. It’s crucial we allocate resources correctly, which can be a challenge because the creative services team isn’t necessarily focused on the bottom line. My role often is a continual right-sizing exercise between technology and budget.   Q: Was there a client or project recently that was particularly challenging for you? JH: ServiceNow is a good example of a challenge from an account management perspective. During the time we were working on this complex show, the client had a number of new decision makers coming aboard and throughout we would need to address their concerns and work through multiple designs and budget revisions. There were a number of last-minute changes that we needed to execute from all the way across the country in Orlando, Fl. To pull it off took a Herculean effort involving most of our staff, a freelance team working as well as the client’s own producers and staff. It was six months worth of challenges but the show ended up being wildly successful. The client called it their best sales kickoff ever.   Q: What are your clients looking for today? Are you seeing any trends? JH: I’m not sure if I’d call it a trend but more and more clients like eBay and Intuit have come to us to equip their own conference facilities and produce shows on their campus’ that combine our technology and theirs. Of course, we have many clients who always want us to push the edge to come up with a unique, never seen before production plan whether it is in how the stage is designed or using the latest LED or projection mapping technology. I would say if there’s any trend, it’s that event managers are smarter and more sophisticated about project execution, planning, and the latest technology, so, we always have to stay one step ahead.   Q: I understand you’re one of the many musicians at Riverview. What’s your musical background? JH: I am a bass player. Our band plays mostly covers and a handful of originals. We make some vain attempt to be danceable because we mostly play parties of one kind or another. One of our best gigs was playing at Evan’s daughter Abbie’s wedding. A little-known fact is that Evan grabbed the microphone and sang a song by Cheap Trick for his new son-in-law. He did a bang-up job.   Q: Outside of the office, any other hobbies besides music? JH: My passions are mountain biking, music, family — not necessarily in that order. Family comes first, but we have more than a full-time job at Riverview – for me, it’s more like a family at the job.   Q: Any new music, TV show, movie or book that you’re a fan of? JH: Outside of work, there is almost a constant soundtrack playing – the age of internet radio and my personal music library being available wherever I am (on whatever device), allows me to pursue my favorite thing in life: Variety. Currently in a high rotation is music by Hiromi Uehara, Mike Ness, Floater and Nathaniel Rateliffe.

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.”

A Chat With Rebecca Van De Vanter, Lighting Specialist

As a company that often prides itself for making its clients’ live event dreams come true, Rebecca Van De Vanter holds the unique position in making Riverview’s dreamers’ vision come true. In her own words, her role is largely to function as a go-between for our design services team and the physical end product that Team Riverview creates. “I take the team’s drawings and designs from paper and gather the gear and the power necessary to bring those ideas to life,” she says. Bringing ideas to life is something this UC Santa Cruz graduate has been doing for most of her adult life, although not on the production side, but rather backstage in traditional theatre. Before joining the Riverview family Rebecca worked around the Bay Area with a variety of companies as both a master electrician, similar to her current job, as well as on the creative side as a lighting designer. We spoke with Rebecca to find out more about the crucial role she plays in what we do at the “The View.” Q: Your background is in theatrical lighting. Tell us about that experience. Any interesting stories about particular shows or productions? Rebecca: My favorite experience is the four years I spent working with Shakespeare Santa Cruz getting to put on full- fledged theatrical productions in the middle of a forest. It was a joy to climb redwoods to hang lights and spend so much time outdoors. Occasionally we would have curious visitors from the forest come onto the stage or into our backstage area during shows, so I learned a lot about how to get a raccoon, deer or skunk safely away from everything. I also work with the Flying Karamazov Brothers when they tour, which allows me to run around the country and wrangle jugglers when I’m not running around the country and wrangling lights with Riverview. Q. What’s your day-to-day like here? Rebecca: Every day is a new adventure when we’re on site, so a “typical” day for me can involve many things. When we first start loading in a show I’m in charge of making sure that all the lights get hung where they’re supposed to and that the electrical system we’re putting together gets assembled correctly. Making our “rig” get up in the air and functioning is my primary job early on so that we can start programming, which is where the art comes in. At that point I’ll move away from the ladders and truss and more towards the lighting console. From there, the lighting designer and I will work together to bring the entire room to life with the angles, patterns and colors from our lights. Q. At what point in the planning process do you interface with the design services team? How do you work together? Rebecca: After the design team has put together their initial concept and intentions onto digital paper, I get the plans in order to start the process of determining what we need in terms of gear, electricity and support. This can sometimes become a more challenging process as we get updates and changes from the client or parameters within a particular venue. When we sit down together it’s really where the art meets the science. Q. What aspect of your job is the most fun? Rebecca: I love the variety. At any given time our design services team and our technical team are working on several different end products. Each of these projects comes with a new set of challenges to meet and play with, as well as a whole new realm of possibility out of which we get to truly transform a space. The end product of each show is never the same as the last one and we get to take inspiration from each environment we create to pass on to our next, and so forth. I also really enjoy getting to travel and meet new people. We get to work with a variety of individuals in each city we go to, and it’s lovely to be able to continue learning new things from these interactions. Q. What are the creative tools you can’t live without? Rebecca: From a practical standpoint, my computer is absolutely key. It has photos that I use for reference, as well as my music library and all the drawing tools I need. I always keep a sketchbook and/or notepad nearby in case I need to jot something down. However far technology comes, I think a lot of my best creative inspiration happens when I’m able to put pencil to paper. Q. Is there one Riverview project that stands out as the most challenging, but was ultimately the most rewarding? Rebecca: The projects I tend to love most, as a genre, are ones that have a lot of moving parts. Often our shows will have a lot of smaller presentations happening outside the general session, and it takes a lot of thought, work, people, and organization to keep them running. It’s challenging in how large scale it can be; while I’ve been working on how to be in several rooms at the same time I don’t have it quite mastered yet. Satisfaction for me comes from the successful transformation of a simple room into a continuation of the larger general session. Being able to have a small and unnoticeable hand in creating the environment for so many people to have an experience together is deeply rewarding. Q. What do you for fun outside of work? Rebecca: I tend to keep a pretty low-key lifestyle, overall. The fast-paced and ever changing environment that we work in leaves me ready for some quiet when I’m ‘off the clock.’ I’m a season ticket holder at the San Jose Giants and attend San Jose Sharks games when possible. The Bay Area has a wide range of local theaters that I enjoy attending, as well. Other than that, I love the time that I get to share chatting with friends and family. Q. What are you reading, watching or listening to? Rebecca: I tend to not watch a lot of TV or movies, but I recently finished the sci-fi novel “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson, and have big plans to start on something a little more nature-based soon in the form of some Edward Abbey. Musically my taste runs over the place. Yesterday it was Broadway musicals, but today it’s tending more towards Benga and dubstep. Maybe tomorrow will bring some hip-hop with it. Who knows?

A Chat With Mike Noble, Director, Service & Repairs

For many at Riverview, you see Director, Service & Repairs Mike Noble everyday as that fun guy, usually with a screwdriver in hand, expertly maintaining our technical arsenal. What you may not know is that back in the late 1980s Mike was a touring lighting technician for such artists as The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart, Boston and Cher. Although that was some time ago, Mike finds his musical past still influences his work at Riverview today. “There is a structure to a music piece the same way there is a structure to a schematic diagram or a lighting plot,” Mike says. “You can see what it is and what is does and what it can and/or can’t do. Almost like a flow-chart in determining what the problem can be in a piece of equipment, or even an entire system.” We spoke with Mike to find out more about how integral his technical support is to what we do at the Riverview. Q. Describe your role here at RSG? Mike: I’ve been providing in-house repairs at Riverview for more than 20 years. I handle audio snakes, lighting cables, lighting fixtures or rack builds, as well as a fair amount of system repairs either in-house or out in the field, I’ve also done a lot of first-hand builds for all our departments. Additionally, I have relationships with all our equipment vendors to have equipment repaired when necessary. Q. You started at Riverview nearly 30 years ago as one of the company’s first employees, has your role at the company changed or evolved? Mike: Yes, very much so. Back in the day, the repairs were mostly lighting fixtures, cables and a few of the older audio or lighting consoles, dimmer racks, audio amp racks, etc., even slide projectors. As the company grew, I took on more of the purchasing of the needed repair or replacement products needed to keep our inventory up and running. Today, I still do repairs, just not slide or overhead projectors. I’m also proud that Evan Williams, our CEO, handed me the reins to Google for any of their event space lighting installations or needs. I’ve been in charge of that for a few years now. I’m still asked to do the occasional production lighting guy thing once in awhile. Q. Riverview prides itself on offering an in-house inventory of state-of-the-art lighting, sound and projection systems. With technology constantly changing and Riverview gear serviced at events around the country (and world), often at the same time, how do you keep the gear well maintained? Mike: Most of the time I am relying on the heads and techs in each department to do their due diligence in keeping up with the easy maintenance jobs. I’m usually called in when things are a bit tougher to repair or even troubleshoot. If you know what the symptoms are, and you are familiar with a signal flow on a certain piece of equipment, troubleshooting and repairs are fast, provided we have the correct replacement part in-house. Q. Do you recall a recent project or internal situation that challenged you? Mike: We were working at a small event at a venue in Seattle where the stage was not exactly what we expected it to be. Rear lighting trees were not going to work. I laid out all the components and built a “goal post” to span the rear of the stage and hung the needed lighting for the event. It was not the most high tech solution, but it worked. This job requires you to think on your feet! Q. Many at Riverview may not be aware of your musical past. Tell us about your musical resume. Rumor around the water cooler is you’ve toured with some pretty famous musical acts. Mike: Guilty. I’ve been playing drums since age 11. As for the touring, I was a part of the lighting crew at ShowLites in LA back in ‘85 and worked on Boston’s reunion tour in 1987. From there, I moved to San Jose and worked for Morpheus Lights, where I toured with The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart and Cher. I also worked on a few music videos and movies. Q. Who are your musical heroes? Mike: If you’ve ever been in my office you’d know I’m huge fan of Rush drummer Neil Peart. I’m a product of the late 70’s early 80’s — RUSH, Cheap Trick, KISS, Van Halen, UFO, Judas Priest, AC/DC, you get my drift. Q. What is your favorite(s) go to work tool that you can’t live without? Mike: For my work, I need more than just one tool. I always have to have the following close at hand at all times: Set of screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, wire cutters/strippers, a good multi-meter, several flashlights, electrical tape and a hammer. Also, a laptop and good Wi-Fi is essential as well. Q. Outside of the office, what do you for fun? Mike: I love to jam with Todd Vrzal, our Installations Director, a couple of nights a week. I also work part-time (more like hang out) at a friend’s paintball shop here in San Jose. I also ride my motorcycle when I can and lounge around with my family.