The CEO of the OKC production firm opens up about how the AV integration arm of the business has grown and how he and his team plan to emerge stronger than ever after the pandemic
In 1953, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Joseph F. Cory started Cory’s Motion Picture Equipment to service 16mm and filmstrip projector rental businesses as well as the state’s schools. Nearly 70 years on, Cory’s Audio Visual maintains that family tie with Cory’s grandson, Brad Poarch, heading up the company that has evolved into a full-service production company that has as one of its many thriving arms, sales and integration services that focus on large and small-scale integration projects in Oklahoma City and throughout the state.
“It’s funny looking back and realizing our company saw most of its biggest moments of change during some of its hardest times,” Poarch says about taking on the role of CEO. “If you look at the “easy” years, we mostly were coasting, but the years that saw adversity were the ones where we really evolved. In 1995, after the [Oklahoma City] Bombing, the 2008 financial crash, the constant ups and downs of the oil and gas industry, COVID-19 … When we had to find a way to be lean, grow into new markets, or just flat out work our competition, that is when our team really shined.”
Today, Cory’s AV has 40 staff members and countless part-time employees, freelancers and contractors that are working some of the company’s largest projects to date, including a $1.6 million integration project in 2019. That job has led to more custom and large-scale projects in addition to the integration firm’s smaller projects — a mixed integration roster that has seen Cory’s AV’s average project margin grow from $10,000 to $150,000 since 2012. Most recently, the company’s integration team has been focusing on kitting out Oklahoma City’s high-end sports bars, restaurants, and its growing eSports market, with the team completing three new arenas in 2020 alone.
As the company cements itself as a leading AV integration company in Oklahoma, Poarch has his sights set on expanding Cory’s AV purview nationally and internationally. “With our association with the PSNI Global Alliance,” he says, “we have a unique global reach while based in Oklahoma!”
It’s an attainable goal if the accolades that Poarch and his firm have received in recent years are any indication. He has been named “Most Admired CEO” three times by The Journal Record, a local business journal — an award that he has won so many times that he will no longer receive it as a member of the journal’s “Circle of Distinction.”
Cory’s AV’s marketing team (of one) has also been named Oklahoma City’s PRSA’s (Public Relations Society of America) “Best Communication Team” (2019) and the company, as a whole, has been named “Best Places to Work in Oklahoma” three times.
“Obviously, our events business has completely gone away for the time being,” Poarch says, addressing the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on his business. “Although we see it coming back, that part of the business took a huge blow with the onset of the pandemic. We had to make some tough decisions, but we have moved almost all our focus onto the sales and integration side of the business for the time being. Luckily, we are a financially strong company with diversified revenue streams, and the integration business is running strong.”
That business model has Poarch hopeful that Cory’s AV will emerge more scalable than ever as he and his team focus on what he calls “a strong versatile core”, which includes growing the contractor pool in their market.
“Our events business was the hardest hit,” Poarch says. “Waiting to see what those events look like will be the biggest change.”