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Meet Maris Ensing of Mad Systems in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maris Ensing.

Maris, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up and was educated in the Netherlands. I moved to the UK in my early twenties and worked at a company that did commercial research and development with projects that involved electronics and software as well as physics, chemistry, optics and a whole host of other disciplines. I ended up running my own aerospace team, working on scientific satellite subsystems. A few years in, I worked on a satellite doing a biological experiment that, in terms of computers and software, was not that fascinating, and when an opportunity came up to run a development department for a company working in the audio-visual business doing theme parks, museums, expos and all kinds of exhibitions, I decided to take the opportunity and had a great time developing all kinds of systems with a great team. The last one I started there was for park-wide systems for a very large theme park just outside of Paris, and we finished that in 1991. At that point, I started my own business developing specialist solutions in the same business and also developed a range of motion base (flight simulator) controllers and safety systems. In 1997 I decided to move to California, and I started Mad Systems in 1998. I met my wife in 1999, and she wanted me to move down to Orange County, so here we are – doing leading edge development, audio-visual and interactive exhibit integration work from the city of Orange.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Setting up and running a business is definitely not a ‘smooth road’ kind of thing. There are bumps, and twists, and potholes and all kinds of things that are in the way, and I really didn’t even intend to ‘run a company’ – I just wanted to do the kind of work that I enjoy doing, and not have to put up with the limitations or live with some of the choices that I had to live with when working for a larger company. I wanted to do things differently, set up a world class team, and do thing right, and that in itself does not lead to ‘smooth roads’. Having said that, I’ve also been lucky in that we have set up a great team, and I don’t have to worry about the normal ‘day to day’ things, so I do get time to find, create, and dream up the next crazy things we get to do. Challenges always remain – and the biggest one really is time: there’s never enough time to implement all the ideas, and develop all the new inventions that we come up with; however, the team is putting a huge amount of effort in, and the results are amazing.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Mad Systems – what should we know?
Mad Systems is essentially an advanced technology company that creates commercial grade Audio Visual and interactive experiences for museums, visitor centers, theme parks, and corporate clients. Most of the companies in our field are Audio Visual systems integration companies, but with Mad we have taken things a lot further. The fact that we have internal hardware, software and interactive development capabilities, an 8k capable edit suite, a 10′ dome and surround video ‘cave’ system, a complete metalwork shop, and what’s more important a team that can and will take on just about any reasonable challenge makes us a lot more than that. There’s not many AV companies that are capable of creating a copy of the Antikythera mechanism or a 40′ wingspan steam-powered airplane – and we’ve done both.

What’s more, we have launched a completely new Audio-Visual system called QuickSilver™ that has created opportunities for the AV industry that we relate to as AV++™ – something that is changing our industry, and the way that we do things. We have also developed a facial recognition system that can keep information 100% private (it doesn’t need to be connected to the internet) and can help to personalize content in museums and other venues, help provide better customer service, and do a host of other really cool things in our area of business (like help you not lose kids in theme park, be recognized when you get your next cup of coffee going through the drive-through, and more). Ultimately, what we’re most proud of is the team. A group of people who always figures out a way to get things done, and done well – a crew who invent things, and make them work, and a team who care about our clients and provide customer service that is hard to beat.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Consistency and persistence. Making sure that we do what we promise, on time and to budget. Coming up with creative ways to produce something that is unusual – creating experiences that people cannot have at home, which with the availability of affordable electronics is hard to do. Creating experiences and memories for families and groups of friends that turn a visit into a shared experience that they’ll still talk about a long time after. It’s interesting – we are learning how to deal with a new generation of visitors that swiped before they wiped and realizing just that is one of the elements that make us successful. Making sure that we’re always ahead of the curve is imperative.

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Mad Systems

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