South County Section: South County Sound and Video
At a critical turn in his career, Mark Gagnon, owner and manager of South County Sound and Video, moved from stage managing and setting up the sound systems for rock bands like “The Schemers” to running the audio-visual systems for Providence College.
“Tell you what,” says Mark, “It was a switch going from the loud, raucous rock scene to a quiet campus.” He laughs. “I mean, think about it. I go from an Ozzy Osbourne world where a vampire could feel at home, next thing you know, every room I go in has a crucifix.”
It was a good move. Mark emerged from frenetic, amped-up nights to the calmer, far less hectic confines of a college campus run by Dominican priests.
“I enjoyed twelve good years at PC,” he says. “They kept me hustling from this set-up to that fix-up for everything from satellite systems to fire alarms. It was fun and I worked for a great boss, Jim Cunningham. But when Jim left I took a good job in telecommunications at URI. After a couple of years, though, I decided to be my own boss.”
So Mark started off the new century working out of his home, building a clientele and a solid reputation.
In a remark typical of his affable, good-humored nature, Mark says, “You might say I established a sound reputation. So when a good, highly-visible spot opened up in the Quo Vadis Shopping Center, I decided it was time to hang out my shingle. Business has been pretty good, even during the past few years.”
Mark’s affability does not equate with chattiness. At least not around the office. Amid the deadlines and demands of the business, Mark says not much beyond what needs to be said. However, he is not reticent talking about the skills he brings to his work. “People learn pretty quickly that I know what I’m talking about. Word gets around. This business involves quick changes and I stay right on the cutting edge of advances in technology.”
Mark also emphasizes what he believes is the most critical part of his business. “Real estate people say ‘location, location, location.’ I say service, service, service. You need me, I’ll get there or one of my technicians will get there, as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s a simple fix. For example, I think maybe the question I get most often is, ‘Why isn’t my picture better?’ My answer most of the time? Well, you bought a High Definition TV, let me show you again how to get those HD channels.”
Working a routine 60 hours a week, Mark has expanded his business to include three technicians, an office manager and a bookkeeper. One technician and a van are on Block Island all the time and Mark gets over to the island at least once a week. “Sometimes the ferry schedule can cause a glitch, especially in the winter. I look forward to the trip. I like the island and I definitely like the people.”
Most of his time is spent on installing and maintaining commercial and residential sound and video systems, but he also installs surveillance systems.
After a job at The Mews restaurant in Wakefield, where he’d just finished installing four new TVs and moving six more, he offered a demonstration of surveillance that would have made Orwell’s Big Brother proud. With a few key strokes on his iPhone, Mark dialed into a system 50 miles distant and we watched folks stalked by several cameras.
One camera watched someone who turned out to be a college student “borrow” a fishbowl. The student was identified, police knocked on the door of his dorm room, entered, recognized the fishbowl, if not the fish, and hauled both receptacle and clueless scholar to the station.
Of course, none of his surveillance systems are on Block Island… as far as we know. 540 Kingstown Road, Wakefield; www.scsv.net; (401) 789-1700.