Making a presentation room more presentable

When you’re a large engineering firm servicing projects around the world, how you present yourself is as important as what you’re presenting. So when it came time to update the training and boardroom at the New Orleans office of Waldemar S. Nelson and Company (or Nelson), IT Director Robert Denman turned to Magnolia to convert a ho-hum space into one that would be as interesting as the information the firm shares with their clients. In the end, they got two amazing rooms, one easy-to-control system and a whole lot of wow.

It needed to be as bulletproof as possible. Now Robert and the IT department are freed up to do other things ...

Impressing the client

Robert explained to us that Nelson does all disciplines of engineering, as well as project management, architecture and environmental permitting for clients of all kinds in locations all over the world. Within these responsibilities, Nelson often has webinars, training sessions and committee meetings where professionals from around the globe come to their New Orleans office. Robert added, “We have vendors come in and present on different topics or different devices. We do “state of the company” meetings, lunch-and-learns, things like that. But up until this change, we had these rooms, but we’d just bring out a little projector and crank out the information—we needed a better solution, we needed to spruce things up.”

“The idea was to wow their clients,” Magnolia System Designer David Milligan explained, and for Nelson to wow its clients, Magnolia came up with a solution that wowed the leadership at Nelson.

Starting in the training room, Magnolia installed a 140" Screen Innovations Slate Zero Edge Flex screen with back lighting. Magnolia System Designer Jonathan West told us, “We chose this screen because it allowed them to have lights on in the room during presentations and still get a really good image. We also chose the JVC projector because it can throw a 16:10 native picture through HDMI—so they can get the perfect image ratio from PC to projector.”

The room also contains two wireless microphones, Sonance speakers for sound, and a simple-to-use Savant control system whose app is installed on two iPad minis.

The boardroom, or what Nelson calls its Seminar Room, is used for smaller meetings as well as for an overflow room for big training sessions. To link the two rooms, Magnolia installed an Atlona switcher which seamlessly cascades the information being presented in the training room into the Seminar Room. The microphones are also linked to both rooms, and with independent volume control, each room can be adjusted as needed.

In the table of the Seminar Room, Magnolia installed two AMX HydraPort® connection modules. These allow for a clean look when closed, but when opened give those in a meeting access to USB ports for charging phones, video inputs, HDMI, VGA and two CAT 6 terminations so they can hardwire in for network reliability if they have a big PowerPoint presentation. It also houses a number of outlets so everyone can power their laptops without cords running all over the room.

Making it work for everyone

At Magnolia, whether it’s in a home or in a commercial setting, it’s never enough to set up a system and then walk out the door. None of this cool stuff means a thing if you don’t know how to use it. For the Nelson company, this means that as many as 75 employees need to know how to use this system. This made it essential for Magnolia to not only make the system as easy to use as possible, but to also properly train these employees on how to use it.

To make control as user-friendly as possible, Magnolia installed the Savant operating system. A system used in both homes and corporate facilities, it provides a layer of simplicity this project required. Magnolia Project Manager Jeremy Bass explained, “It needed to be as bulletproof as possible. We needed to prevent users from coming into this space and having to make a panicked call to Robert and the IT department that they needed help.”

Magnolia also set up a 90-minute training session for anyone who might touch the system. Christian Rizzo, Magnolia Lead Installer told us, “What was cool about the class was how we saw people who were at first scared to death of this system change the second we demonstrated it. We had several people say, ‘this is easier than my remote at home.’”

“Now Robert and the IT department are freed up to do other things,” Jeremy added. “Before, whenever there was a presentation someone from IT would have to come down to make sure everything was running smoothly. With this setup, they simply hit the button on the iPad and the room is ready to go.”

Change ready

With any company, when you make a major investment like this one, you don’t do it every two or even five years. Longevity and reliability are key. Magnolia anticipated this and provided a future-proof framework that could adjust to any necessary changes or updates. To achieve this, they added two spare wires for every one they put in, and installed extra CAT cable behind the rack that runs to numerous locations, all for future use. “Now, if they ever want to add or expand—they can do it from one centralized area, and not have to run any new wire; it’s already there,” Jeremy explained.

In the end, Magnolia gave Nelson Engineering a system they can use today, tomorrow and well into the future, growing and changing as the company grows and changes, inspiring their clients in rooms that are equally as inspiring.

The Magnolia crew that helped bring beauty and simplicity to the project Left to right:
Lead Installer: Christian Rizzo
System Designers: David Milligan and Jonathan West
Project Manager: Jeremy Bass
Lead Installer: Kevin Foudriat (not pictured)

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