Cotillion Banquet Center, Chicago

Persistence Pays Off For Small Integrator

Smaller system integrators don’t have to settle for just the small jobs. Chicago’s Savage Pro Audio recently completed a large audio installation in a banquet center, and the job was won through dogged persistence and personal equipment demonstrations.

The Cotillion, located in Palatine IL, has been in operation as a banquet center since 1985. A wide variety of events are hosted at The Cotillion including wedding receptions, auctions, political events and fashion shows. The facility has been remodeled and updated numerous times over the years, and offers three exquisitely decorated ballrooms that can be combined for large events. The most recent update was a renovated sound system in the ballrooms.

Savage Pro Audio, with a showroom in Carpentersville IL, specializes in sound installations in studios, churches, schools and concert venues. Owner Barry Savage is well versed in the hospitality industry as well, and was asked by the management of the Cotillion to consult with them on some speakers they had purchased. After looking at the facility and listening to the speakers, the problem was immediately apparent to Savage. “They had six little speakers in each room, each on a five watt tap. With only 35 watts per room, those little speakers weren’t working for them, so they purchased some other inexpensive speakers and installed a few of them,” said Savage. “Those didn’t sound good either. That’s when they called us. The people at the Cotillion were hoping to put a ‘band-aid’ on the system; someone had told them the speakers were fine and just needed more power. We went in with a 300 watt 70 volt amp and put it on the speakers that had been installed, but even with increased power the system still just didn’t sound good.”

Rather than walk away from the problem, Savage and his sales manager Bill Robinette saw this as an opportunity to help the client. The company had been selling SoundTube for about a year, and they wanted to show their client the difference between the speakers they had purchased and the speakers they should purchase.

Savage Pro Audio and SoundTube rep Tom Parnell of Next Generation Marketing set up a demonstration for The Cotillion using SoundTube CM600i, CM800i and CM800d speakers, powered by a Cloud amplifier. “Our demonstration was pitting a single SoundTube speaker, laid on its side on a table, against the entire room. He was showing us what the room did, while we were showing him what it could do. The 6 inch speaker sounded good, but when the client heard the 8 inch standard can and then the 8 inch with the deep can, he wanted the 8 inch deep can units for the facility,” said Savage.

Parnell reported that the client was “blown away” by the audio quality and Savage’s philosophy of “give them what they really need, not what they think they need” landed the company a large project. A total of 18 CM800d speakers were installed in the banquet facility, powered by Cloud amps. Six speakers were installed in each of the banquet rooms, along with two wired microphone inputs and a wireless mic with body pack per room. A separate wireless mic and body pack can be used as a “floater” for any room, and when all three rooms are combined, there are sufficient mic inputs to accommodate a live band. “An advantage of this system is that the wireless mics and body packs can be used to play anyone’s music via an iPod or smartphone,” said Savage, “and the speakers are robust enough to handle anything. We have edge-to-edge coverage. You can walk front to back, left to right, and you don’t ever lose any signal, anywhere.”

Robinette said the key to this sale was persistence. “Never take no from a customer,” he said. “If you can convince them that you know what they need better than what they think they need, you can sell them the best. In our case, we went in to a facility that really didn’t sound good, showed them ‘good, better and best’ speaker options, and came away with a terrific project that gave the client fantastic results. The client ended up spending more money than he was planning, but we worked out some creative financing with him and now his banquet center is one of the best in the area.”

Dimitri Fanellis, one of the Cotillion’s owners, said the expense paid off. “This is the best speaker system in Chicago, let alone for a facility of our caliber,” he said. “When you fill a room with 500 to 700 people and everyone’s talking, the sound has to come through. It has great distribution and the wireless is also a great option for us. You’ve got to spend the money but it’s well worth it in the long run; our guests are really happy.”