by Mitch Leathers
Late last December, we hosted our annual company retreat, and I have to say, there was a different feel to this one. Personally, I left the three-day retreat feeling as optimistic about the company as I’ve felt since I was hired. And that’s saying something for a company that’s grown consistently since its North American founding in 2009.
Our retreats are typically the kind of team-building, site-seeing, end-of-year recap events fairly common among healthy companies. This year, it was hosted at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a beautiful, all-eco-friendly spot nestled right next to the Brooklyn Bridge with awesome views of Manhattan’s skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
Many of our employees live semi-near our Times Square headquarters, but many others from all over the U.S., Mexico and South America flew in, too. We teamed up for fun tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, enjoyed amenities at the newly opened, city-meets-nature hotel, and experienced good meals together throughout the week.
It even had a feel-good, Brooklyn-inspired theme: “Building Bridges.” You might have expected that to relate to how well we can work together to make great things happen for our clients and ultimately our staff. And to some extent you’d be right, but the loud message was that we are currently constructing bridges to a big, bright future. The opportunity and optimism was off the charts.
Day 2 brought the obligatory day-long series of presentations, as all of the department heads anxiously delivered their 2018 recaps and 2019 visions. I suppose one precursor to the good vibes was when our president, Dennis Hickey, asked that managers spend the bulk of their presentation time on 2019 as opposed to the good year we’d had. After all, 2018 was the year we finished out projects like the head-shaped “As We Are” digital art piece, CHAMPS’ new digital exteriors in Times Square, the artsy interior displays at Google’s YouTube headquarters, and the massive, mega-spectacular screens at Circa Towers in Los Angeles among many others.
But for 2019, our management team noted already-record sales on the books. As director of marketing I know how exciting the last few years of growth has been for the company, so the report that this healthy trend was about to morph into a major upswing was stirring news. I know the company is very excited about the new clients we’ll be serving and the noted venues for which we’ll be manufacturing products. It’s going to be a great year at SNA Displays, and I can’t wait to share some of the good news with you on this medium. (A couple other changes we covered on Day 2 were a new marketing executive and my move to managing our communications efforts on full-time basis giving us much more opportunity in 2019 to tell the world what we’re up to.)
Another clear objective we laid out for our staff—especially our marketing and communications teams—is to effectively communicate SNA Displays’ ability to realize the creative visions of its clients. If you’re a follower of any of the company’s social media accounts, you know that we’ve begun to use the slogan Dreams Live Digitally™; this interesting little phrase encompasses one of the key sentiments of our leadership, that with the right design, technology, and know-how, some very magical things can happen with the help of a digital canvas.
In the golden age of digital video, this sentiment speaks to the heart of the LED display industry itself. And I think we have one of the best stories to tell. Think about the incomparable, trendsetting video wall at Salesforce’s headquarters in San Francisco. The immersive design coupled with the unbelievably talented content creators at Obscura Digital, Fusion CIS, and others allowed the folks at Salesforce to realize the fairly implausible dream of showing the world a life-like digital waterfall splashing around in its lobby. For the creators, the confirmation of their quality work came when concerned citizens began leaving messages about the water being wasted for a corporate nature scene.
While we couldn’t have been happier with the result – and about becoming a global manufacturer for Salesforce – the real story there was the content and ultimately Salesforce’s ability to recognize how digital signage could contribute to the experiences they wanted to offer to their employees and customers.
So when we say Dreams Live Digitally™, we hope it inspires a positive note, a vision, a business goal. Here’s our tribute to this theme:
WITH EVP JASON HELTON ON THE PATIO OF THE RIVER CAFE
This video, which we unveiled to our staff at the retreat, conveys the sense that all of us can relate to having dreams in our personal and business lives. It is my hope that throughout this year and beyond, we are able to convey to potential clients our capacity to help them realize their own messaging visions through our digital display solutions.
Presentation after presentation, it became clear that we were all part of some wonderful opportunities as employees for a rapidly growing company in an ever-changing, exciting industry. I wondered what the impressions were of our newest hires – of which we had more than ever – getting their first full picture of the company.
That night, all of the staff and their significant others were invited to a formal dinner night at the exquisite River Café, which sits in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a beautiful, albeit chilly night, and the views of the East River and Lower Manhattan were staggering, at least for us out-of-towners who don’t often get that perspective. (If you’re ever in New York, I highly recommend the River Café as one of your pitstops. Here’s a great feature in the New York Times on the restaurant back in 2017.)
All in all, it had to be the best company-wide event in my time at SNA. With current business solid, new business abound, and optimism in the air, looks like we now have our own vivid dreams to realize.
So, here’s to a Happy 2019 to all of you!
Mitch has worked in the LED display industry since 2005. He’s currently senior director of communications for SNA Displays and works out of the company’s Dallas office.