Changing of the Guard at AVBend


((L-R) James Cowan and Tony Sprando | Photo courtesy of Audio Visual)

Long-Standing Audio-Visual Provider Brings In New Manager

Audio Visual Bend (AVBend), a leading local source for commercial audio and visual needs, was founded back in 1999 in Portland by husband-and-wife duo Tony and Chistine Sprando. The idea came from Tony’s passion for audio tech; he remarked that he was an “audio geek” growing up.

“It all started from just a hobby,” Tony said. “I was told I should probably apply for a job which would let me use this hobby.”

Following his interest in audio tech, young Tony got a job doing audio, video and lighting for the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Rancho Mirage, California. Desiring to branch out and work for himself, he and his wife founded Audio Visual Presentations in 1999 in Portland, Oregon, which they rebranded to AVBend after making their move from their hometown of Portland, Oregon.

The motivation for the move was a national tragedy. 9/11 had just happened, and Tony recalls feeling Portland and much of the country had essentially shut down with a lack of travel. Seeing Portland slow down, the couple wanted to leave but weren’t sure where to go. Having done business with a church in Bend before the move, Tony reached out and found support.

“I called them up and they said they’d help me through the process of moving myself and my business to town,” Tony said. “Tons of little pieces came together after Christine and I prayed about it.”

AVBend specializes in commercial audio and visual services and maintains the certifications and licensing to do this type of work that few in the state have. They also have a small events rental department for when you just need gear for your event. Some of their projects include the new Greg’s Grill upgrades, the recently renovated RE/MAX facility Downtown, Sunriver Resort, The Riverhouse and a multi-state project for the Oregon Department of Forestry. AVBend has created solutions in several city and chamber conference rooms and plenty of training facilities and convention centers. Operating across Oregon, AVBend now offers services to Idaho and Washington as well.

The management of AVBend has recently shifted. After years of professional audio and visual service, Tony has retired and brought in James Cowan to continue their legacy of excellent service and high-quality audio work. Christine, the owner of Audio Visual Bend, oversees the financials and operation of the company.

“I was looking for someone special to hire to take my place,” Tony said. “We reached out to our community and all the connections we’ve made here, and they brought James to me. He has a deep set of skills, he has ambitions and he proved to me he wanted to run the company.”

Tony and Christine were not willing to hand the business over to just anyone. James came to the company with an extensive background in the industry. With 18 years of experience, James has experience working on massive sound systems in Las Vegas, and hosting industry-wide events and conferences. He intentionally leaned towards understanding video and lighting work, in particular, and touts these as his specialties.

James’ skill set provides unique opportunities to grow AVBend. “As the company has grounded itself in video conferencing and building in-room audio, two areas we want to expand in are acoustical treatments, as well as lighting for both accent and main lighting,” James explained. With extensive experience in those areas, James is pushing for that change.

On the first of November this year, James officially took over in a ceremony where Tony handed him the metaphorical reins (and a literal sword) to the company. “Tony understood the business should not retire with him,” James said. “Tony did an amazing job of recognizing the skill sets required to keep the business running and help it survive in the future. He was very open to flexible changes within the business, and always sought to find better ways to work with more modern tech.” The cooperation between James and Tony is what made for a successful management transition. Both individuals worked in collaboration to ensure no drop-in service or quality to the clients.

Optimistic about the future of AVBend, James proposes to maintain AVBend as the go-to source for commercial audio-visual services. Looking to solve problems before they begin, James plans on working with local architects and builders to ensure proper audio-visual capabilities are included in modern design. “We want to jump in and work with architects to make sure buildings are being designed with modern tech, and taking lighting/acoustics into account,” James said, adding that they are already working with multiple architecture firms across town.

With the handing of a sword, Tony wanted to reference the “changing of the guard” and show the community this shift in management is ethical, intentional, and best for both the company and its clients. Tony said, “Our business, our quality, our service… We’re not going anywhere. It was just time to pass it along to the right people.” • 20585 NE Brinson Blvd., Bend


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