Back in 1976 the country celebrated its 200th anniversary, “Rocky” won the Oscar, Woodward and Bernstein’s “The Final Days” was a best seller and TV audiences laughed at “Laverne & Shirley.”
That year, young audio engineer Bill Holtane joined a small company he wasn’t enthusiastic about, but it was the best decision he ever made.
Soon thereafter he bought the business and turned it into Sound/Video Impressions of Des Plaines, celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Sales are a comfortable $2 million a year and employees, who number 18, have an average seniority of 14 years.
“When I started the company, making money wasn’t the object, but building a good solid team of people was,” said Holtane, the company president in charge of overall administration.
“I’ve learned that ours is a people and relationship business, and that means treating our staff well. We’re a people-oriented team. And when we connect with other companies like ours, it’s magical.”
Those companies include United Airlines, Kraft, Walgreen’s, Northrup/Grummand, TMK Video and scores of others that have been doing business with SVI as long as Holtane can remember.
Some are steady, repeat clients, others come in with occasional needs, and new clients?through recommendation?flow in with enviable steadiness, like the recent video job for a New Jersey educational institution.
A hard worker since his early teens, Holtane aspired to an audio career but was frustrated by the fact the small Harwood Heights audio company he worked for in 1976 was “more like a duplication house” with little opportunity for hands-on audio work.
Confiding his frustrations to his friend, the late basso-voiced actor Jack Callaghan, Callaghan said he ought to apply for the general manager’s job at a small studio in Des Plaines.
Hesitant for a number of reasons, Holtane nonetheless had several meetings with the owner. “He made me a low ball offer,” he chuckled in retrospect, “but I took the job anyway, simply because it was I wanted to do.”
Within months, he had bought the studio and renamed it Sound Impressions. When the company expanding into newly-emerging videotape in 1981, “Video” was added to the logo.