As technology progresses so do we. We’re creating intuitive systems crafted to perform, working with cutting edge technology, and efficiently bringing new life to homes, and businesses, in innovative ways.
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Integrating Technology into the Montana Lifestyle
Big Sky Journal
Imagine you’re in Bali and your cell phone rings. Your neighbor back home in Montana has just gone into your house to feed the fish and check the mail, and she is calling to let you know that there is a large puddle of water on your kitchen floor — and it seems to be seeping out from under your dishwasher. Two words immediately leap to mind: vacation ruined.
Picture another scenario. You’re on Kuta Beach in Bali, drinking your favorite tropical beverage, and your cell phone gives a discreet beep. SAV Digital Environments has just sent you a text to let you know that a valve broke under your dishwasher — some sort of weak spot in the appliance’s infrastructure perhaps — and their remote water alert system immediately detected it and shut off the water. Totally different words spring to mind: So glad we installed that remote monitoring service.
Over the past 20 years, the concept of a “smart house” that knows when to turn your lights on and off, rolls window shades up and down at the sound of your voice, sends you a text if your front door is left open, and responds to remote commands from your phone, has become a relatively affordable reality — a far cry from portrayals in science-fiction and space-age cartoons. SAV Digital Environments (pronounced /es-ā-vē/), a home and business technology firm that originated in Bozeman, Montana, and now has more than 60 employees spread throughout Bozeman, Big Sky, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has evolved from the audio-visual installation company Studio AV founded by Cory Reistad in 2005, to a company that not only designs the best available audio and visual entertainment for homeowners, but also integrates those components into whole-house systems. SAV has created teams of experts in their fields who know how to capitalize on the potential of new technology, solve old problems, and anticipate new scenarios, helping to modernize home and business environments.
When the construction boom of the early 2000s was still at its height — particularly the explosion of higher-end construction in Montana’s resort areas — professional, high quality home audio and video systems were requisite in new construction, and increasingly were being retrofitted for use in remodeled homes. Reistad recognized that there was an opportunity for a company that embraced emerging higher-end technologies to design and install these systems, blending them with the home environment. Home theaters with surround sound and high-quality pictures were just the beginning. Automated whole-house sound and lighting systems were becoming increasingly common — a real business opportunity for a technology-savvy company.
In the little over a decade since SAV started, however, the technology available to homebuilders and business owners has exploded. In addition to audio, video, and theater systems, SAV provides water system monitoring, low-profile, surveillance-type security, lighting control, automated window coverings, computer networking, wireless systems, and more. After installation, home and business owners can count on the support they need, when they need it through ‘round the clock customer service. SAV recognizes how critical it is that technology be smoothly integrated into everyday life — and how frustrating it is when something doesn’t work properly. Eric Knez, SAV Director of Client Services, puts their customer service goals plainly:
“Our primary goal is to prevent inconvenience and frustration when devices stop working. If an issue does arise, we do whatever it takes to resolve the matter promptly.”
SAV also tries to create a working environment that reflects their commitment to their employees, their communities, and to their clients. A whole division of the company is dedicated to ensuring that client issues are resolved quickly and efficiently, whether remotely or through a home visit. It is easy to see how these systems give homeowners peace of mind while they are away, but their experiences are enhanced while at home as well. Throughout the West, where residents value time spent on hiking trails, ski slopes, and golf courses, it’s appealing to come home at the end of a day to a gently lit living room, with shades at just the right angle; or enjoy the long light of summer evenings on the deck while sipping wine and listening to music.
SAV supports its workforce, and the communities where it is based. For employees, this means their creativity is valued, and rewarded. In addition to a benefits package, SAV offers ski days and celebrations that range from impromptu pizza parties and happy hours, to an annual holiday party and summer picnic. Within the community, SAV supports groups like the Big Sky Community Organization, Big Sky Youth Empowerment, the Bozeman Cancer Center, and many other worthwhile causes. In 2017, SAV was voted the second Best New Business — new to Big Sky — in the Best of Big Sky Awards.
From low-profile smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, to inconspicuous surveillance systems that don’t interfere with the architectural details of a home, to discretely placed surround-sound speakers, and strategically placed TVs — hidden behind artwork or inside the ceiling or wall — SAV’s systems are designed for their clients’ enjoyment. Whatever the next new trend in property owner comfort, security, and convenience may be, the SAV team will aim to explore creative ways to integrate it.
Innovators & Innovations: Sifting Through Technologies
Western Home Journal
What changes can we anticipate in the future about how we will live? Some people have the ability to take a different look at important problems and to break beyond conventional wisdom to introduce new thinking and products that ultimately will affect how we will live. Meet three very different kinds of trailblazers and explore their ideas.
The biggest shifts in how we live come from technology, and frankly, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all that’s available and to make it work in a home. Cory Reistad, founder and owner of SAV Digital Environments, which has experience centers in Bozeman and Big Sky, takes on that challenge. “We create reliable and intelligent solutions to simplify lives. It’s our job at SAV to discern from all the technologies out there and narrow down what really works. Keep in mind that a large percentage of new technologies fail. By sorting through technologies, we protect our clients’ interests and their pockets.” With a background in the industry, Reistad founded Studio AV in 2005, and over time Studio AV evolved to SAV Digital Environments and it has grown to over 60 team members.
As the eyes and ears of so many in Montana, what are Reistad’s recommendations for technology that really can enhance people’s lives? This question acknowledges not only that SAV Digital Environments designs, manages, and installs systems, but also speaks to the range of its expertise in home automation: AV systems; home theaters and entertainment; lighting controls; automated shades and blinds; security and surveillance; life safety; networking and IT; climate control; energy management and more.
“We create reliable and intelligent solutions to simplify lives. It’s our job at SAV to discern from all the technologies out there and narrow down what really works.” –Cory Reistad, Founder/Owner, SAV Digital Environments
Reistad adds, “We assemble, manage, and make it useful. We manage technology so clients are not overwhelmed and find simplicity in the complexity. It requires anticipating someone’s lifestyle.” One of the first suggestions he offers to make peoples’ lives easier is based on the experience of his own busy family with three kids ranging in ages from 10 to 14. “I recommend an “all off” button. When I leave the house I have assurances that everything is off and the home temperature goes to the dormant setting. It gets you out the door fast.” Similar to this is a vacation setting. Reistad describes it as putting the home in a dormant status for energy savings with the shades down and the lights off. Programming can also mimic that the home is occupied by setting lights to go on or off or shades to go up or down at certain times.
Like many others, Reistad is concerned with using energy responsibly. “One of the ways we reduce energy without affecting lifestyle is to set the software throughout the home to dim the lights by 11 percent. It’s not noticeable and it saves energy.” Similarly, the controls on the heating and cooling systems can be programmed for energy savings and convenience. “When we are involved early, we can enhance the user interface, and as we become better known as designers, these collaborations are happening earlier.”
Voice and gesture control is also catching a lot of attention. Reistad predicts it will change how we live. In the example he gives, the platform for voice control is built into the automation system. With the “wake up” command, the system turns on the lights, adjusts the heat, activates the espresso machine, and CNN displays through the bathroom mirror display. “For the things you do day in and day out, technology can add efficiency and make life a little easier.”
Reistad finds that clients are increasingly sophisticated about technology. “They are used to looking at screens and they adapt quickly. It’s important that we make technology as intuitive and fast as possible.” However, as more people in a household use technology, the network is taxed like never before.
“We’re installing enterprise networks as part of all our jobs,” Reistad ads. “Networks are the backbone of everything. Systems are networked-based, and we depend upon the network to deliver content. With multiple devices streaming, a network can become overloaded. The enterprise network is business class and allows multiple users the ability to access content, and I feel it is necessary to give homes reliability and the power to handle all that’s required.”
“Networks are the backbone of everything. Systems are networked-based, and we depend upon the network to deliver content. With multiple devices streaming, a network can become overloaded. The enterprise network is business class and allows multiple users the ability to access content.” – Cory Reistad
Television displays are becoming increasingly large and dominant in a room, and they are often positioned in a focal point such as over the fireplace, which further draws attention. Reistad has found an interesting solution. “When the television is not in use, instead of a black dark screen, we can display an art piece, or even a slideshow of family photos. While not quite one-of-a-kind, the art has a limited license, and there are sufficient selections to find something that really works with the room’s décor. And, unlike a painting, it doesn’t take a lot to change it out. It can be displayed sufficiently large enough for an 85-inch screen. There are many developing options for this, like a new wallpaper TV by LG, and Samsung even has a TV with a frame around the screen display to present the art appropriately. Turn the TV on, and it ceases to be art and functions fully as a television.”
With such a large and growing firm, Reistad is determined to stay connected with clients and to remain in front of technology. “I’m the chief strategist at SAV Digital Environments, and I insist on working directly with all my clients. Technology is booming, but we’re also becoming more robust in our skills and up for any challenge.”
Custom Speakers & Support Differentiate James Loudspeaker & its Dealers
Robert Archer (CE Pro)
SAV Digital Environments is able to meet a range of customer demands through the custom speakers and support provided by James Loudspeaker.
A few years ago the naysayers had the vultures circling the consumer audio category. According to these so-called experts, the glory days of audio had passed, and in their place were new pastimes such as gaming, which represent the present and future of home entertainment.
What the so-called experts didn’t know was that streaming media was about to revolutionize how the public consumed content. Fueling a new era of stereo music and home theater, the current home audio market is driven by streaming music services and object-based surround sound.
Today’s modern era of home entertainment is flourishing and now electronics professionals have more product choices then ever before. Rising above this competitive marketplace, the California-based manufacturer James Loudspeaker is helping a new generation of integrators that includes SAV Digital Environments to thrive in a world dominated by digital media unique customer demands.
James Loudspeaker’s Custom Speaker Options Meet Specific Requirements
Derek Flikkema, sales and design consultant at SAV, says we chose James Loudspeaker as a vendor because of the manufacturer’s willingness to do whatever was necessary to meet the objectives set forth by the client.
“We believe it is very critical to have a partner that can help set us apart from typical audio/video installation [companies]. James Loudspeaker is willing and even excited to help us create custom entertainment products for our clients, enabling SAV Digital Environments to provide outstanding solutions for challenging, unique installations.” – Derek Flikkema
One aspect of SAV's relationship with James Loudspeaker that is easy to overlook is how the speaker company is able to apply its experience to find the right solution for a client, which in some cases means not adding the cost of a custom speaker design to the job. From a dealer perspective beyond the cost and application of a custom product, Flikkema points out that custom speakers can also be time consuming to develop, and not every manufacturer is interested in the commitment it takes to make a custom speaker.
He says that James Loudspeaker however, will recommend a custom product only when it is appropriate, and when it does, it enters into a custom project fully commited to the design of the product.
“In many cases the easy way of out of a difficult design challenge is to eliminate features versus finding a custom or one-off solution. Customizations can be time consuming and frustrating because you need to locate and approach a manufacturer, determine who can help and then in most cases try and convince them to design a custom product,” he explains.
“It can be frustrating because many vendors treat custom solutions as a burden, something they will invest a ton of time into and then never reuse again. So there isn’t much return on their investment of design and manufacturing. James Loudspeaker approaches these situations in a different way. When requesting a custom solution from them, the process is easy and exciting. You are connected to someone right away who will help brainstorm new ideas or show you some custom options created in the past from their database. Once an idea is established, it is usually only a few days before you have a drawing from the engineers in hand … not weeks or months. The entire experience is rewarding because a partnership with James Loudspeaker allows SAV to provide solutions that are not typically available from other AV dealers that aren’t familiar with the benefits a partnership like this offers.”
Once a project is completed Flikkema emphasizes that customers are usually thrilled with the results his company provides through James’ custom engineering capabilities.
“A typical response from the client would be, ‘wow, everything just fits perfectly,’” meaning that all of the room’s décor, furniture and electronic components complement one another,” he notes.
The result of James Loudspeaker’s ability to discreetly integrate its products into a range of home environments means that his company can complement the interior designs of the most challenging homes.
James Loudspeaker Provides More Than Custom Speakers
Elaborating on the support that James provides beyond its custom speaker engineering, Flikkema says the California speaker company helps his installation business differentiate its services from the competition.
Through the support services and custom speaker products Flikkema stresses that SAV Digital Environments is able to work with disciplines such as homebuilders, architects and team managers on a level that other installation companies can’t.
“Clients that select this team know they are getting something that is just for them, and not something mass produced,” emphasizes Flikkema. It’s personal and unique to their project. Working with James Loudspeaker allows SAV to provide custom solutions that sets a standard with its own identity.”
In addition meeting customer demands through unique custom products, James is also helping SAV Digital Environments stay in tune with the latest market trends. Flikkema says that some of the trends SAV is addressing through James Loudspeaker’s standard product line include the ability to break down traditional barriers to deliver a range of entertainment experiences.
“Live/live-out spaces have increased in popularity and there is demand for audio systems that can adapt just as your living space adapts,” comments Flikkema.
James Loudspeaker provides a wide assortment of products that allow for example, the expansion of a media room out to a patio. When the patio doors are closed the media room can operate in a typical 7.1 surround sound format. When the client opens the doors the room expands out to the patio and adjusts to a Dolby Atmos configured surround sound format. For this application we can use an assortment of under eave wedge speakers for the height channels and Omni planter-based decor speakers for the side and surround channels. James Loudspeaker uses materials and finishes that are engineered to last even in harsh environments.”
– Derek Flikkema, SAV Digital Environments
Western Home Journal Shop Talk
SAV Digital Environments is dedicated to finding and vetting not only the smartest and the best technologies, but technologies that almost seem invisible. Many technologies can seem intimidating, unwieldy, and brazen; Cory seeks products that are subtle, intuitive, and behind-the-scenes. SAV’s expert team designs and installs digital systems that co-exist and complement people’s day-to-day existence. After all, even in this digital world, we still want a human touch.
“Our discerning clients and partners are looking for two things in their digital environment: simplicity and elegance.” – Cory Reistad, Owner, SAV Digital Environments
What services do you offer?
SAV is a comprehensive, process-driven firm that offers design and installation services for audio/video systems, home cinema, lighting and shade control, network and IT connectivity, security and surveillance, energy monitoring solutions and more.
What geographic areas do you service?
Our main regions are Bozeman and Big Sky, MT, as well as Jackson, WY. However, we have been known to serve various other locations, most within a 100–200 mile perimeter to our main regions.
What do you offer that is unique?
We offer unyielding commitment to client service. Very early in the business, I learned that establishing a commitment to our clients’ needs is our most important job. That is why SAV has dedicated an entire division of the company to focus on our clients’ systems after they have been installed.
What project are you most excited about right now?
Though we get excited about all of the work we do, right now our commercial security division is our most exciting. We are seeing increased demand for asset protection. Advancements in facial recognition and artificial intelligence related to human behavior are absolutely astonishing.
Describe your process and how you work with clients.
Our work with our clients generally starts early in the design phase of the project. Because the end goal is to incorporate technology into the home in such a way that it blends into the architectural environment, it’s necessary to incorporate those details and collaborate with the owner in order to succeed. Once the design is complete, we work closely with the general contractor, interior designer, and other trades to deliver a seamless system.
What are some of the tricks of the trade?
In the wake of ever-changing technology, I’d advise to be patient with innovative products and make sure they are properly vetted before placing them in clients’ homes. With our commitment to simplicity and usability, it is vital that we do not use our clients’ homes as technology test beds.
Dwelling Closer to Nature
Western Home Journal
Setting the Scene with Electronics. As we move outside, it makes sense we’ll want music, entertainment, and convenience to be part of the experience of living outdoors. “When designing systems, I like to ask: Where do people like to spend time? Then I populate the area with immersive audio and/or video,” explains Cory Reistad, founder/president of SAV Digital Environments in Bozeman, Big Sky, and Jackson.
He continues, “We all have such busy lives, and it’s hard to find a time and place to sit down and really enjoy ourselves. However, most of us make a point of relaxing when we are outside. Outdoor living first became prominent in coastal areas, and its acceptance in the mountains was slower, but at last it has arrived.”
New products are making what was once unheard of outside now possible. Reistad reports that SAV carries thermally insulated televisions for cold climates. “Also, music is a big part of life,” he muses, “and should be part of outdoor dining, sitting by the fireplace, and backyard sports.”
“For audio, we used to be limited to positioning speakers under eaves and close to the house for connections, but now, I prefer to design systems with speakers that surround the perimeter. More sound comes back to you, and it doesn’t project out to the neighbors. The outdoor speakers are durable and have a ten-year warranty.”
“We pride ourselves in solutions made easy. Our design goal is immersive audio using performance-based technology where the equipment is not an obstruction. Rather, we weave it into the environment.” – Cory Reistad, Founder/President, SAV Digital Environments
The idea of watching movies in the backyard with friends, family, and refreshments sounds hilariously fun. Reistad says that developments in electronics make it completely possible. “We secure drop screens to eaves on the deck, provide a mobile projector, and make use of the perimeter speaker system for great theater sound.”
SAV has been in business since 2005. A staff of 62 provides service, and according to Reistad, “This allows us to be specialized in all facets of electronics and low voltage controls: networks, IT, acoustics, lighting, home theater design, window treatments, and home security & surveillance, and more. We offer design and engineering, project management, and, of course, product sales. However, I think our client services truly distinguishes us and provides our clients complete confidence in us.”
SAV’s concept for serving clients is immediate concierge service, meaning they are on call 24 hours a day, and 365 days per year to assist and make service calls. SAV’s technicians can also run remote diagnostics and program new equipment without having to come to the home.
“We pride ourselves in solutions made easy,” says Reistad. “Our design goal is immersive audio using performance-based technology where the equipment is not an obstruction. Rather, we weave it into the environment.”
He also explains that while technology can be very complex, the goal of system engineering and design is to control operations through a user-friendly device with the convenience and ease of end users in mind.
SAV’s headquarters are in Bozeman, where they’re excited to show anybody and everybody what’s possible. However, in order to enhance customer service and to reach out to clients with even more convenience, SAV is opening their “Living Design Center” this summer in Big Sky. “It’ll be a very modern, cutting edge one-room snapshot of all SAV does—everything. It’ll be staffed by designers who can show the best in lighting, shades, board room automation, audio, and more,” says Reistad, who extends an invitation to stop by.
Outdoor spaces are so much more than they were in the past, but also our lives are so much busier. They are the perfect place to unwind, relax, and appreciate the natural world.
Western Home Journal
A quaint guest escape with rustic character and modern details. The fusion of glass, metal and timber in this mountain guest cabin evokes a rustic elegance with a modern twist. A true blend of past and present with views that bring the outdoors into this intimate space.
“As architects and builders we are storytellers, like artists. The storyline of Camp Run-a-muck is based on the concept of an old buried and dilapidated Forest Service cabin, a remnant of something that pre-existed on the property. Then we took that shell and mixed a little history with modernity. The result was a hybrid of a simple stone structure with an infill of hewn timber and glass. By infusing the old and new, we created a contemporary expression of a classic Montana cabin.” – Greg Matthews, Pearson Design Group
Innovative process, material, and technology. SAV designed and installed the technology including the lighting controls, sound system, video displays, and window shades.
“Architects like Pearson and builders like Highline are looking for two things: simplicity and elegance. We work together so the digital environment blends so well with the home that is it not immediately detectable. The automation is highly sophisticated but almost invisible.” – Cory Reistad, SAV Digital Environments
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