In an interview with Live Design today, Groener noted that his departure from PRG is nothing but friendly, and that he looks forward to being able to do a little of everything in his new role at THD, including doing business with former employer PRG. “We’re going to work on projects and specify designs that PRG can work on with us, and we hope that PRG will choose us for jobs for which they can recommend a design firm,” he says.
In fact, the companies already have a history, including the recent large-scale LED façade for Harrah's new 56-story tower in Atlantic City, for which THD worked in partnership with PRG. “PRG is a great company, and I will miss my friends and colleagues who work there,” says Groener.
As for his new gig, Groener looks forward to a variety of responsibilities. While he will be involved in business development and finding new opportunities and clients, as well as managing parts of the business operation, personnel, and staff development, what he calls “all that seemed logical” based on his recent experience, he was surprised to have another opportunity. “Tim said, ‘I’ve worked with you on projects…and you’re a creative person, so that’s one of the things I want you to do,’” recalls Groener of his talks with Hunter.
Groener adds that, while he will be an integral part of the creative team, THD has plenty of talented folks on board and that his role will be more in helping clients identify design goals, concepts, and directions. “They needed to expand and develop and bring someone in to be essentially Tim’s partner and take on some bigger roles,” Groener says.
“It goes without saying that Bill is a leader in our industry,” says THD founder and CEO Hunter. “After more than 30 years of experience with some of the best companies around, he has acquired a breadth of knowledge and experience few can match. His outstanding people skills enable him to pursue, develop, and close challenging new business opportunities. Almost as important, his thoughtful, calm, and organized demeanor ensures that complex projects are completed successfully and cost-effectively.” Mike Hansen, senior vice president and general manager of THD added that “…Bill is one of the best communicators that I know.”
Early in his career, Groener worked primarily in design and production in both regional and academic theatre. After working as an assistant professor at Williams College, he joined the Walt Disney Company as a lighting designer for theme park projects.
Post Disney, he moved away from design and production and toward the manufacturing side of the industry, primarily with Strand Lighting where he eventually worked as executive vice president/general manager. In the mid ‘90s, he and his family moved to the Northeast where they remain today. Groener has also worked with Barbizon and later with PRG, where he became the vice president/general manager of the company’s Systems Integration Group.
Highlights of Groener’s career include prominent roles in several major installations, including the Morocco Pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot Center, NBC’s NYC Broadcast Center (Rockefeller Center), several Cirque Du Soleil production facilities, CNN NYC Broadcast Center, ABC Times Square Studios, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall), Radio City Music Hall, the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, and Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
“I have had a number of positions in this industry, but I am really looking at this one to be the last one!!” Groener jokes.
Throughout his career, he has been actively involved in the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), and the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA). For ESTA, he has served in a variety of roles on the Board of Directors, has chaired the Technical Standards Committee and currently serves as the president of the association. He also serves on the boards of both The ESTA Foundation and the Southern Connecticut Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.