A Global Tech Company With Local Ambitions

By Beacon Staff

The technology company Avail-TVN bills itself as the “largest independent digital media services company in North America” and is constantly growing, yet it has managed to fly under the radar in Kalispell, where one of its main national offices is located.

Company officials are hoping to increase Avail-TVN’s exposure in the Flathead with an open house for the local business community and a job fair in late April. The events will also showcase the company’s new location off of U.S. Highway 93 next to MacKenzie River Pizza Co.

“A lot of people don’t know what we do and that we’re here,” Mike Kazmier, Avail-TVN’s chief technology officer, said last week.

Avail-TVN provides a long list of digital media services for an even longer list of clients, including “every major studio and television network,” such as ESPN and Turner Broadcasting System. Among its services are video on-demand, pay-per-view programming, linear solutions, technical support and marketing solutions.

“Using our proven technology platform,” the company’s website states, “we format, manage and distribute content to over 50 million television and broadband households across North America each and every day.”

Kazmier moved the Flathead in the late 1990s, believing it to be a place where he could enjoy “quality of life” while pursuing his entrepreneurial ambitions. Within a few years, he founded a tech company called Auroras, which later merged with two other companies to form Avail Media.

In 2009, Avail Media merged with TVN Entertainment to create Avail-TVN, with headquarters in Reston, Va., and offices in Kalispell, Burbank, Calif. and Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Avail-TVN has 195 employees nationwide and 25 in Kalispell, Kazmier said. This year, Kazmier said the company is making a big push overseas into South America and Europe, while increasing its focus on Internet-based distribution.

“That’s PC, Mac, iPad, Android, you name it,” he said. “We’re dealing with products that are leveraging the Internet more and more.”

The company worked with Centurylink and the city of Kalispell to run a fiber optic line under U.S. Highway 93. The faster connections should enable Avail-TVN to do more business out of the Flathead and hire more employees here.

The career fair on April 28, Kazmier said, is geared toward local high school and college students interested in technology careers, such as software development.

“We tend to have a lot of openings all of the time,” Kazmier said. “We’re constantly growing, which is a great problem to have.”

Of the 25 employees working out of Kalispell, Kazmier said about half have Montana roots, including a number of University of Montana and Montana State University graduates. The out-of-state hires are generally outdoorsy people with families who are drawn to the area’s quality of life, Kazmier said.

Kazmier acknowledged there are disadvantages to running a national organization from an area of relative isolation. Despite technology’s ability to “bridge the gap,” he said extensive travel is necessary and costly. Raising money presents difficulties as well.

“It would be naïve to say there aren’t tradeoffs,” he said.

But he pointed to his company, Semitool and Nomad Global Communications Systems as examples of entrepreneurial enterprises that have found success in the Flathead Valley. It can be done here, and Kazmier hopes it will be done a lot more.

Kazmier has been working with local business and economic development groups in an effort to “raise awareness that this is a good place to do business, especially technology business.”

“My interest is to open this up for other people – it’s kind of a personal vendetta to break that ice,” Kazmier said. “This is something we can do instead of manufacturing. We’re a very clean industry and we pay good wages.”

For more information on Avail-TVN, visit www.avail-tvn.com. To learn about the open house and job fair, call (406) 751-0000.

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