AVCON Relies on D-Tools During Construction of the First new Catholic Cathedral in 100 years

AVCON, Inc., an industry leading integration firm in Raleigh, NC, recently aided in the completion of an extensive, two-year building project for the Catholic Church Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina. As a long time D-Tools user, AVCON put its faith in the System Integrator (SI) platform to complete the design and installation of audio, video, and control systems in the new Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral on time and to budget.

“The level of responsibilities that the AVCON Team was entrusted with made this project an incredible challenge. We’ve never engineered, designed and built systems for a cathedral before. No one has at this level alive today. It was new, exciting, scary, challenging, and amazing all at the same time,” says AVCON President Frank Yarborough.

Not only was this a historically and technologically significant project, but the challenges inherent in blending the traditional look of a cathedral with high-quality AV systems for music and spoken word required the expertise of an experienced and knowledgeable systems integration firm like AVCON. In addition, the AVCON team had to work with the other trades on an inflexible timeline.

“The project schedule was a challenge for all trades, but we were all working together towards a completion date that wasn’t going to move,” says Yarborough. “There was a lot of overtime, long days, and late nights. Everyone had to work together, and we did. It was great teamwork that led to great success for all.”

Yarborough also attributes a significant portion of AVCON’s success to the D-Tools platform. “There is no better system available that would have allowed AVCON to design, specify, negotiate, manage, order, and invoice with this level of accuracy and confidence,” he says. “AVCON may have been the first commercial integrator in the industry to embrace and commit to D-Tools at our level. This project is one of the greatest examples of why we chose D-Tools as our platform years ago, and why we will continue to build our company with D-Tools as a significant tool for our success.”

First Significant Cathedral in 100 Years

The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh, measuring 44,000 square feet with a seating capacity of 2,000, is the first new cathedral of this size and magnitude to be erected by the Catholic Church in 100 years. “The City of Raleigh views this as a significant statement that our area was chosen as the place for such an amazing and majestic structure,” says Yarborough.

Likewise, AVCON was honored to be selected to design and install the audio, video, and control system solutions. “After many years of serving the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, and after engineering, designing and building audiovisual solutions for many of the largest Catholic churches in our area, we developed a trust and partnership that established the basis for AVCON to be considered as the engineering and design/build partner for this historic project,” says Yarborough, calling it a blessing to be chosen.

D-Tools Helps Manage Costs and Relationships from Beginning to End

The cathedral project designs went through nine revisions in D-Tools over two years before system installation began. “D-Tools helped us manage our costs from beginning to end,” says Yarborough. “It aided in managing our vendor relationships, negotiating best pricing, and then ensuring that the pricing was updated and accurate for ordering.”

AVCON developed the bill of materials from the D-Tools report and managed invoicing in D-Tools throughout the two-year process. The D-Tools platform helped the integrator track the original project and all change orders accurately so that the client was invoiced properly for purchases and AVCON didn’t lose money on parts and labor that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks through multiple revisions.

“We were able to develop our bill of materials from our D-Tools report, as well as manage and maintain invoicing throughout the two-year process. This ensured that the original project and all change orders were tracked accurately so that no money dropped through the cracks for AVCON, and that the client was invoiced accurately for what they purchased.”

The integrator’s project management expertise, professionalism, and exceptional organizational skills throughout the project, enhanced by the use of D-Tools, impressed the Diocese of Raleigh. It also gave the client peace-of-mind that they had entrusted such an important project to the right company. “Early in the project, it was clear that Frank and his team of top-notch professionals were the ones I could trust with this incredible project,” says Billy Atwell, Director of Communications, Diocese of Raleigh. “It was the best decision I made in the three years I worked on the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral construction project.”

“This was an amazingly successful project for AVCON and the Diocese of Raleigh,” asserts Yarborough.

A Traditional Cathedral for Modern Days

Catholic churches are not typically known for having the most high-tech AV systems. As the first new Catholic cathedral to be built in a century, Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral is a noteworthy exception.

“This cathedral will be a building for this place and in this time,” said architect James O’Brien of O’Brien and Keane on the church’s blog. “So it will be a traditional cathedral for modern days…. We will take full advantage of the arsenal of today’s construction technology in virtually every discipline.”

Of course, this includes sophisticated AV and control systems. The cathedral boasts high-end commercial technologies, including Sennheiser 9000 series wireless systems and Neumann microphones, a Yamaha CL digital mixing console with multiple RI/O digital stage boxes, BSS digital signal processors, Lab Gruppen power amplifiers and loudspeakers from Meyer CAL series, Renkus Heinz IC/TRX series, Innovox MLA/ AE series, Yamaha MS series and Community D series ceiling loudspeakers. All loudspeakers were custom-painted to match the décor of the church and virtually disappear from view. All equipment is housed in Middle Atlantic Products MRK series racks with various PD series power distribution products.

To achieve a high level of audio excellence while maintaining the clean aesthetics required in a Catholic church, AVCON worked closely with the architectural team and acoustic specialists Stewart Acoustical Consultants of Raleigh, NC. “This ensured that all key elements of the project were evaluated, addressed, and developed in order to achieve the highest level of speech clarity and music performance for this incredible project,” says Yarborough.

“The sound received high marks from all I spoke with following the [first] Mass,” notes Rev. Msgr. David D. Brockman, Diocese of Raleigh.

The AVCON team gave equal care and attention to the church video systems. Currently a single Panasonic AW-HE40 series PTZ camera faces the pulpit and is connected to a monitor located next to the organ. The camera can be controlled via an iPad or the control system touchscreen located in the AV control room.

The AV room, designed as a remote production room for audio and video, is located on the Mezzanine level. It houses the equipment racks, along with the wireless receivers, mixing console, control system, and other components. Main audio control of the system is via an iPad and a remote wall-mounted Crestron touchscreen located in the Nave.

The church narthex features a kiosk that houses a Planar interactive touchscreen fed by a Spinetix digital signage system. This high-tech setup is, perhaps, a visitor’s first clue that this is not your average Catholic Church. The screen displays the names of those who donated to the building project or loved ones they chose to honor through a donation. The technology helps bring the congregation members closer together, as visitors can use the interactive screen to dive deeper and learn more about their fellow parishioners.

Technology Brings People Closer

The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral helps unite the Catholic community within Raleigh, permitting a large space for the congregation to worship together. Just as the crystal clear sound and state-of-the-art video help bring worshippers together inside the spacious church, D-Tools aided AVCON in achieving its goal of working with the other trades to solve problems efficiently and deliver seamless solutions to the clients.

“Things changed rapidly once the main building construction was underway. Systems and people had to work together to understand, communicate, and manage all parts that were required to equal a whole,” says Yarborough. “Ensuring open communications with the internal and external stakeholders was critical. D-Tools was essential to providing us a systematic way of tracking equipment included in the project and when items needed to be ordered to meet the project schedules from rough-in to finish phase, helping us manage our vendor requirements and project costs throughout.”

D-Tools: Helping AVCON Solve Problems for Years

Thinking back to his first experiences with D-Tools years ago, Yarborough said AVCON adopted the platform to replace a diverse set of programs that included Excel, Word, Visio, and CAD. “We had a desire to develop and implement systems that were scalable as AVCON grew.” Today, AVCON uses D-Tools to manage nearly every phase of the commercial integration firm’s business processes, from project design and development through engineering, BOM development, order processing and invoicing.

“D-Tools is efficient and effective from a time and money perspective,” says Yarborough. “Having a system that is comprehensive at a level that allows engineering, project management, accounting, sales, installation/integration, purchasing, and company leadership to review, validate, and confirm the information that is required helps reduce incorrect information from flowing through the project. Incorrect engineering and design, ordering, and invoicing all negatively impact the company financially and culturally. It can negatively impact the client as well. That is not acceptable. Our passion is excellence, not just for our clients, but also for the AVCON team.”

He adds, “Problems always exist. AVCON is a mature team that has learned, and continues to learn, to manage problems effectively. A primary goal within any project is to ensure that when problems exist relative to our responsibilities, the client is protected from being adversely impacted by the problem to the greatest extent possible.”

AVCON achieved this goal with the successful completion of Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. The client’s testimonial stands as evidence: “Despite hurdles and challenges, Frank’s team never skipped a beat or showed anything except enthusiasm and gratitude to be involved,” says the Diocese of Raleigh’s Billy Atwell. “AVCON led us through the decision process seamlessly and offered sound counsel, which was a major factor in our success. In the end, the sights and sounds inside Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral were exactly what we hoped, and prayers were answered on dedication day.”