From the Australian Army to AV specialists: Robyn Farrell and Andrew Grudnik, the founders of CVA give us insight into how they turned an idea into a thriving, successful business by working together, as a team.
It has now been 14 years since a gut instinct and a leap of faith resulted in the birth of CVA, and creators Andrew & Robyn reflect on the journey and look forward to what comes next.
“It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come.” says Robyn. “ Andrew first came to me with the idea ‘hey Robbie, how about we spend all our life savings on two super big TV’s?’ …or words to that effect! After picking myself up off the floor, I remember thinking this mad idea just might work”.
They met in the Defence Force, Andrew, a Physical Training & Development Officer, the youngest Warrant Officer Class II in the services at 29 years, and Robyn, a reservist member of 6 Field Ambulance and one of the first members of the newly formed Mobile Field Surgical Team. It was here, in the army that instilled the values of personal discipline along with teamwork as vital to the success of an organization. It is also the origin of Andrew’s favourite quote “The 7 p’s – ‘Prior Preparation and Planning Prevent P**s Poor Performance’” (well the army was not known for beating around the bush back then!).
When asked about his army days, Andrew says, “There was no sleep, just run. Run like an idiot”. And run like an idiot he did – holding the record for the 5km run at OCS Portsea for over a decade. Robyn recalls being physically put to the test “There was simply no option, but to face your fears, get over them and keep moving!” Maybe it was all that adrenalin in the air or the common love of adventure that brought them together, but they soon realized that they worked well together.
Years later, on Andrew’s retirement from the services as a Regimental Sergeant Major, they embarked on their next adventure as publicans at a venue in South Melbourne, famous for comedy. The venue was a training ground for many household names such as Jimeoin, Bob Franklin, Rove, Stephen Curry, Eric Bana, Dave O’Neil, Kitty Flanagan and many more.
It was at this point that the flat screen technology was about to hit Australian shores. Now one might say that it was their passion for adventure that enabled them to take the risk of starting a business from scratch, others the determination and resilience learnt in the Army – in any case it was in August of the year 2000 that the first plasma screens were hired out under the CVA banner.
From this small start as a cross-hire company committed to high-end, ground breaking technology, CVA developed its reputation for service excellence and the client base grew exponentially. With targeted staffing additions CVA then forged a strong path into the audio market, determined to maintain its highest quality ethos.
When asked about his success in business Andrew says “Teamwork is paramount to the success of every event, and the success of our business as a whole. From load in to load out, everyone needs to know their part.”
Robyn and Andrew both say about business “Be fearless but try to take calculated risks. Be flexible, give the clients what they want, not what you want to give them. Be balanced, take a breather every so often to recharge the batteries and give other team members the chance to shine.”
So what is next? “We are launching the new look CVA – Creative Vision & Audio – as a commitment to the future of the CVA brand and all that it represents. Creative event solutions based on Quality, Reliability and Service Excellence.”