History

In 2011, deep in the middle of the Great Recession, it was easy to see the impact the economic unrest had on the meetings and events industry. There were fewer meetings, less travel, budget cuts, and a seismic shift in the way organizations sourced their meeting spend. Planners got smart – really fast – and it was clear that they would never fully return to their old ways. Our founders, Mike Ruocco and Simo Sadik, believed that the industry needed a new and disruptive service that focused on customer centricity and lowered cost by embracing the new shared economy. They began planning for innoVia.

innoVia Productions opened its doors in February 2012 with two employees, one customer, a sound business plan, and a ton of passion.

Today, we’re recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the industry with more than a dozen full-time employees and 200+ trusted partners traveling the world to produce hundreds of meetings every year.

 Mike and Simo, founders of innoVia

Mike and Simo, founders of innoVia

Philosophy

Meetings and events are critical to any organization. They convey messages, build brands, better company cultures, motivate customers, reward members, and so much more. Our employees take our values to heart: be innovativeconsistentcustomer centric, empathetic, and knowledgeable. We understand how important these events are to the planners we work with every day.

Empathy is a particularly treasured superpower at innoVia. We believe in long-lasting and authentic relationships, rooted in genuinely understanding our clients, their attendees, and their event goals.

We aim to make our clients proud of the meetings and events we help develop and strive to continue raising the bar for live production.

Green and Glocal Innovation

The client is center stage in our globally local - "glocal" - approach. We secure our audiovisual equipment and labor from strategically-partnered vendors all over the world, eliminating inventory and personnel overhead costs. We offer global reach via local resources.

We build solutions based on your event’s true needs, not on what ageing equipment needs to be moved from a warehouse shelf. Sourcing from multiple vendors gets you new and local gear that fits your show best.

Our technology is consistently priced between different cities, states, and even countries. The projector you get for your New York event is the same price as the projector you get for your Tokyo event.

We're doing our part to make the world a greener place. We don't ship, freight, or move gear from show to show. 

The Founders

 
  Mike Ruocco  CEO, President

Mike Ruocco CEO, President

 
  Simo Sadik  Vice President, Technical Director

Simo Sadik Vice President, Technical Director

 
When I’m losing sleep over a tough decision, I think back to a baseball game I played as a kid. I unfortunately found myself at bat in the last inning, down by a run, two outs, and bases loaded. After two balls, my team was praying for a walk. The third pitch was high and outside. I could have gone for another ball but it was my favorite pitch to swing at. I swung as my coach yelled, “NO!” My bat made contact and crushed the ball through a gap in right field. My team cheered as I rounded the bases for the win and I learned a lesson I still practice today - always swing at your pitch.

Mike Ruocco is a twenty-two year event and hospitality industry pioneer recently earning MPI’s coveted CMM designation. Mike’s past leadership roles at PSAV and Marriott International focused on redesigning sales and management structures to develop a culture of customer centricity thus growing market share, brand loyalty, and employee satisfaction. The programs he implemented were targeted specifically for customer organizations desiring the benefits of a strategic meetings management program (SMMP).

Mike’s most recent endeavor has been the start-up of innoVia, a customer-first event technology design and fulfillment company. Mike is an active member of MPI, PCMA and CEMA.

I’m very fortunate to do what I like with a talented team that cares. It truly makes the journey of serving our customers easy and enjoyable. We also have some amazing customers that make working with them feel like a walk in the park.

Simo Sadik earned a BA in Electronics and Computer Engineering shortly after moving to South Florida from Morocco in 1998. Simo’s passion for technology drew him into the live event and production industry where he has been successfully ensuring exceptional customer experiences for over twelve years.

In addition to his extensive experience as a video engineer, Simo has experience with today’s most sophisticated lighting and audio technologies. Simo also has a unique ability to keep a technical crew on schedule while making high-profile presenters, foreign dignitaries, and corporate executives feel at ease. Simo has traveled the world servicing the most demanding clients in the pharmaceutical, technology, and financial services industries.

He speaks three languages fluently (English, French, Arabic) and as an experienced world traveler, he easily adapts to any cultural situation at home or abroad.

Associates and Staff

  Brian Stewart  Vice President of Sales

Brian Stewart Vice President of Sales

I look to build trust and loyalty with each of my clients, allowing them to focus on their goals and business objectives.

Brian Stewart is a fifteen-year veteran of the audiovisual and hospitality industry. Brian’s past leadership roles focused on developing long-term client relationships, placing customer satisfaction as his top priority. His focus on the customer and understanding their goals from an event and business perspective provides him the ability to deliver high-quality results.

Most recently, Brian served as a Director of Sales for PSAV Global Accounts. Brian led a sales team focused on servicing the top pharmaceutical and financial companies across the globe. He was directly responsible for driving customer results and creating a team environment empowering each of his staff to reach their fullest potential.

  Stephanie Necel  Strategic Account Manager

Stephanie Necel Strategic Account Manager

  Emily Scott  Strategic Account Manager

Emily Scott Strategic Account Manager

Nothing makes me happier than happy clients. Each client is different - some are very technical, some not at all. I love getting to know the client and co-creating solutions that enhance their message and drive growth.

After graduating magna cum laude with a degree in Audio Engineering from the University of Hartford, Stephanie Necel started her 10+ years in the AV and production industry as a technician with PSAV.  Shortly after, she was promoted to the position of Research and Development Technician in Chicago, IL. As the R’n’D tech, she played a vital role in the new product process, from the initial need through testing and ultimately executing on show site. 

Stephanie’s ambitions led her New York City, where she freelanced as a Technical Director and worked with clients from Fortune 500 companies to make their event’s vision come to life.  She met Mike and Simo on the road, and joined the innoVia team in 2015 to continue enhancing her customer’s experience on show sites.  In 2017, Stephanie became a Strategic Account Manager. With her business intuition and overall excitement, it was a natural fit.  Stephanie drives mutual growth by helping clients deliver for their clients. She has a keen ability to make her client’s dreams come true, from simple, straight forward programs to highly technical, multisite shows. Outside of work, Stephanie is living the dream, one karaoke song at a time.

I am an advocate for my clients. I understand all sides of production and what is required to ensure a successful program. As an account manager, I promote honest and open communication to further enhance my customer’s experience.

Emily Scott began her career as an event planner for a large-scale event production company in Chicago. There, she learned her passion for converting creative ideas into reality. She transitioned into the hospitality world in 2012 when she joined PSAV as part of the sales team. She thrived in the ability to connect and relate with her clients as well as her hotel counterparts. She then advanced into Account Management and focused on building and strengthening relationships with key corporate accounts. Emily has a natural way of connecting and empathizing with her clients, which allows her to fully align herself with their goals.

Emily lives in downtown Chicago where she enjoys trying new restaurants and hibernating through the winter months.

  Rob Haney  Strategic Account Manager

Rob Haney Strategic Account Manager

  Leahe Knott  Production Manager

Leahe Knott Production Manager

  Zach Hopkins  Production Coordinator

Zach Hopkins Production Coordinator

I build meaningful and lasting relationships with clients by combining my technical experience and creative skills to meet their objectives. I am always looking for ways to improve by taking a fresh approach to challenges. I believe the best live events are the work of talented teams that have established trust and respect among all.

Rob Haney graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in communications with a focus in studio production work. During his time in college, he successfully launched and attracted investment for a music magazine that would eventually gain distribution across the country. After graduating, Rob pursued opportunities in music and theater production, working on and around stages of all sizes.

Rob transitioned to working with corporate clients as a technician first, then worked as technical director, project manager, and stage manager before moving into account management. He joined PSAV and leveraged his technical experience and creative approach to work successfully with clients ranging from regional to Fortune 500. Rob joined the innoVia team in 2018 and is currently based in San Diego where he spends his free time surfing, travelling, or exploring the many mountain ranges and deserts in Southern California.

I love the collaborative challenge of managing events. Our team has a tremendous sense of community and this translates to show sites. Being productive while having fun at the same time is one of the reasons I love what I do.

Leahe Knott is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma’s School of Drama with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Lighting Design. Prior to graduation, Leahe participated in the esteemed Kennedy Arts Center Theatre Festival’s design competition where she placed second nationally for her lighting design. Through her excellent work in the competition, she was awarded an electrical fellowship with the nationally recognized Williamstown Theatre Festival. Her work continued to draw recognition leading to two prominent and highly sought after internships with the prestigious Cirque du Soliel production team and Trinity Shakespeare Festival.

In addition to her lighting design expertise, she continues to broaden her skill base by becoming certified as a Master Electrician, Programmer, and Drafting Expert.  In recent years, her focus has been primarily in the live events field, producing meeting and events in Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. She is a brilliant industry professional with over a decade of valuable experience her field.

Coming together with clients and coworkers to make an event happen is why I do the job. The trials, tribulations, successes, and accomplishments of any event are only stepping stones to achieving greater things, and I step hard!

Zach Hopkins graduated from MediaTech Institute in Irving with a degree in Recording Arts. He has been in the audiovisual industry for the past five years, working on shows and setting up live events in hotels throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He has earned Hyatt’s Purple Key twice, an award that represents recognition from a client for putting on an outstanding show. Zach’s “on the ground” experience has been a great benefit in his current Production Coordinator role, supporting innoVia’s on-site technical directors and account managers.

In his free time, Zach enjoys working on and riding his motorcycle around town with no destination in mind. He is also an avid professional wrestling enthusiast who never fails to catch a live event when it is in town and hopes one day to see events all around the world.

 
 
  Ron Smith  Technical Director

Ron Smith Technical Director

  Patrick Johnson  Technical Director

Patrick Johnson Technical Director

  Terri Furgeson  Operations Manager

Terri Furgeson Operations Manager

Focus on the customer and the relationship. Everything else will take care of itself.

Ron Smith is a 30-year veteran in the audiovisual production business. As a Producer and Technical Director, Ron has executed programs for clients such as Coca Cola, IBM, UPS, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In October 2001, Ron joined PSAV as Hotel Director at the historic Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. While there, he captured and managed programs for the US Army, Hooters Restaurants, NAACP, and Diamond Comics. After 19 very successful months on Miami Beach Ron joined the Global Operations Team.

Ron Attended the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Majoring in English Education, Ron lives in Canton, Georgia with his wife Barbara, and their daughters Katie and Taylor. In his spare time, Ron is very active in his church community. He enjoys music, movies and fine wines.

Delivering an impactful message is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Building the relationship and working with the individuals to create that message is why I love what I do.

Patrick Johnson's decade in the audiovisual world covers a wide breadth of experience. He has served as Lead Video Engineer and Training Instructor with Cosmopolitan Las Vegas' in-house AV team, toured with concert and entertainment production crews throughout the U.S. and Canada, and now travels globally as a Technical Director for innoVia. Patrick is a great fit internationally; his cultural awareness, easygoing nature, and stamina on long flights make him innoVia's usual pick for shows throughout Europe, Asia, and beyond.

Outside of work, Patrick is committed to several personal projects, including writing screenplays for local festivals and developing board games. He also loves spending time with his dog Levon.

I get to interact with all aspects of innoVia from behind the scenes. It doesn’t matter if you are a client, a vendor, or a freelancer, I enjoy working to ensure the things you don’t see are taken care of. You may not know who I am, but I know you.

With over 23 years of experience in sales and marketing, Terri Furgeson believes that the key to success is customer service. Her focus is to listen and act on the voice of the customer, ensuring that the company provides the best supoort possible. Terri received the President's Value Excellence Award at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for her dedication to the customer. 

Throughout her career, Terri proactively sought to develop her strengths in building customer enthusiasm through marketing material, trade shows, customer engagement events, and workshops. While at PSAV, a global AV provider, Terri gained knowledge of the latest technology used to enhance events and engage audiences. Terri thrives in the fast-paced event marketing environment and looks forward to the exciting challenges ahead.

 
  Susan Picone  Marketing & Communication Associate

Susan Picone Marketing & Communication Associate

Clear communication successfully navigates between the intended message and the audience’s interpretation of that message. It’s a rewarding challenge to find the right word and medium for the right situation.

Susan Picone began her career in an academic research institute, putting her Communication Science degree from the University of Connecticut to use by conducting health, communication, and marketing research at her alma mater. She then spent six years creating and managing production of employee training presentations on a learning and development team. She has comprehensive knowledge of adult learning theory and how to make a presentation interactive and engaging. 

Susan loves to travel and volunteer. Over the years she’s helped out a number of initiatives such as mentorship programs, park cleanups, summer camps, and she also enjoyed four years as a board member for a community arts organization.

  Fernando Trueba  Multimedia Specialist

Fernando Trueba Multimedia Specialist

Creativity is not tied to artistic skills solely. Someone can be creative in other facets of life like managing relationships, innovation, business and problem solving. Creativity is a skill we all possess, we just need to know in what ways we’re creative.

With 6 years of experience in the entertainment industry, Fernando Trueba has garnered a plethora of skills in both the technical and creative field. He has extensive knowledge in video production, audio engineering, video editing, and photography. Before joining innoVia, Fernando produced and filmed commercials and worked as a camera operator for world-renowned artists. He worked as an AV specialist at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where he gained all the necessary skills to successfully run a show. He recently graduated with distinction from Kingston University London with a Master’s degree in Advertising and the Creative Economy, which has aided him in enhancing his strategies and empathetic approach to customer centricity.

Fernando is a musician, an avid traveler, and is passionate about learning new languages and about cultures around the world.

 

Making an Impact

We value making a positive contribution to the communities we serve! We're also particularly committed to the success of the event planning industry; we're always available to brainstorm a program idea or answer an audiovisual question, client or otherwise.

Our goal is to foster these behaviors in our company and employees:

Be a good neighbor.

We help out charitable organizations and community projects every month and encourage our employees to volunteer. 

 Helping out at a nearby SPCA animal shelter.

Helping out at a nearby SPCA animal shelter.

Support good things.

We sponsor and produce shows for a number of non-profit organizations, from local groups to event industry associations.

Be a good colleague.

We're active members of many event and AV associations. We love attending chapter meetings and local get-togethers.

 Having a great time at a PCMA Mix & Bowl.

Having a great time at a PCMA Mix & Bowl.

 Sponsoring the annual SPIN conference.

Sponsoring the annual SPIN conference.

 

Connect with us

Check out some of our recent Instagram photos below and follow us on social media to see what we're up to every day!