AVL Media Group is one of the leading distributors of professional audio, video, and lighting equipment in North America. Initially established in 1996 by Founder and CEO Stephen Kosters after seeing an opportunity to inject a sense of genuine passion into the distribution process, the company has grown to be the proud home of many of the key brands in the industry, including Midas, Tannoy, Lab Gruppen, Lake, Klark Teknik, Turbosound, Spotlight, Zero-Ohm Systems and more. For Kosters, AVL was the natural culmination of a life in the ‘rock n’ roll’ business driven by a love of music matched with a genuine desire to creatively explore all the elements that make live events possible.
Kosters initially got his start playing in club bands in Montreal in his late teens. Having a genuine affinity for the particulars of musical instruments and noticing his peers struggling to get the gear they needed to put on performances, he began renting equipment to friends in the local music scene at the age of 18. This naturally progressed into his first proper business venture when he opened Chateau Music/Kostar Sound in 1976 where he sold musical instruments, live sound equipment, and recording gear. Business was booming for several years, with the store serving many major artists.
The late 1970s and early 1980s were a fruitful period for live music in Canada, and as more bars and clubs opened the need arose for increasingly sophisticated live sound equipment. Seeing an opportunity to be a resource to both local and touring acts, Kosters shifted his business model to focus more heavily on live event production and forging trusted relationships with touring artists. It was during this period that Kosters also began putting into practice the philosophy that would define his career in the industry — moving beyond ‘selling the box’ and focusing on exploring creative solutions to common issues in live event production offered by new and innovative products. All of this done, of course, with the same attention to communication and service that he had learned from his early days of renting equipment to friends.
Throughout the 1980s, Kosters expanded his business again to meet the needs of touring acts that were increasingly getting in touch for equipment as his company’s reputation in the industry grew. This dovetailed with a growing interest in club and show lighting that led Kostar Sound & Lighting to be one of the first Pro A/V rental companies to stock and service touring-grade lighting equipment — a shift which was perfectly suited to the increasingly live productions that dominated the late 1980s and the burgeoning DJ and electronic dance music that would come to prominence in the 1990s. All the while, Kosters’s ongoing fascination with cutting-edge A/V technology kept him close to the changing tide of live event production and by extension, the needs of his customers.
Kosters founded Intellimix Corp, the parent company of AVL Media Group, in 1996 when it became clear to him that distribution would allow him to explore these concepts further while also bringing all of his interests and experience in professional sound, lighting, music, and live event production together under one roof. By offering an intelligent mix of products that would serve the various demographics of live event production and the fixed install market, he could continue to explore the creative problem solving that had driven him in the business from the start.
In the past 26 years, AVL has become a major force in professional audio, video, and lighting serving major clients in film and television production such as TSN and ABC, live event production powerhouses like Live Nation and SIR Hollywood, as well as thousands of working engineers and contractors across North America. Not content to rest on his laurels, however, Kosters is still excited by the day-to-day problem solving that has been built into his career from day one.
“I’ve had the privilege of having a front seat to this business for more than forty-five years, and the things that get me excited have always been the same — seeing how much the technology can change and how those changes influence the needs of our customers,” Kosters said. “I may still be a salesman at the end of the day, but the real satisfaction always comes from getting creative with our customers and finding the solutions that make us all excited.”