15 Minutes With ... Ryan Gustafson, Screen Innovations President and Co-Founder Part 1
CustomRetailer: How did you get into the business?
Ryan Gustafson: That’s a long story, but the (relatively) short version is this: My grandfather, Munford Parker, was a creator and inventor. I grew up watching and helping him invent solutions that improved the ways things worked. Good enough was never enough; he was always striving for the ideal, and for that, I not only idolized him, but also wanted to follow his example.
My first job was at Circuit City, and I gave it everything I had. As a new salesperson hitting the sales floor just a month before the Super Bowl, I was soon outselling the other sales reps two-to-one in big screens. I’d found my calling—it was game-on!
Two years later, I left and joined forces with A&B TV, a small Austin-based home theater store. At the time, residential two-piece projection was still very primitive and expensive. We were selling the Sony VPH-G90U and other expensive projectors, but that was it until the Sony VPLVW10HT LCD projector came out. It was stunning, light and affordable—a total game-changer for the category.
I ordered one sight-unseen for myself, and when it arrived, I was floored. Yet, as good as it was, I quickly discovered that it needed a different kind of screen to optimize the projector’s capabilities. Not finding what I needed, I went to my garage and built my own screen, then another, and another. I created a package for A&B TV called “The Reel Deal,” which included a Sony receiver and Cineza projector, paired with Paradigm speakers and the screen I had designed. The package started at $4,999 for an entire home theater system, which was unheard of at the time. A&B TV went from two to three projection systems a month to 15 to 20 systems!