Ownership of Mountain View Group changes hands

Talk about a plot twist. Thomas Gonyeau started working for the Mountain View Group to fill in for a
Actor Kevin West, left, takes his place on the set while director of photography Taylor Morrison, right, begins adjusting his camera to prepare for filming a commercial produced by Mountain View Group in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Actor Kevin West, left, takes his place on the set while director of photography Taylor Morrison, right, begins adjusting his camera to prepare for filming a commercial produced by Mountain View Group in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday.

Talk about a plot twist.

Thomas Gonyeau started working for the Mountain View Group to fill in for a production manager who was on maternity leave. He ended up taking over the video production company.

While attending the College of Saint Rose in 1986, Gonyeau crammed into a van with a Mountain View film crew to document various dance and live performing arts events from Albany to Buffalo.

The documentary filming tour prepared the Rotterdam native for the traveling he would later do for Mountain View: around the globe and up the company’s ranks.

“That was just New York state. Not soon after that, I was working for IBM and traveling across the world,” said Gonyeau, who now lives in Atlanta.

For the first time in its 27-year history, ownership of Mountain View last month changed hands. Founder James Tusty sold the business to Gonyeau and Stephen Pruitt, a Rochester native who has served as a senior producer for the company over the last seven years.

Tusty’s sale of Mountain View puts Gonyeau and Pruitt at the head of a company that produces video programming for the General Electric Co., the Coca Cola Co., Home Depot Corp. and IBM and shot film on six continents.

Gonyeau’s favorite project took him to Moscow to make a Russian-language education video shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union.

The sale of Mountain View ensures the company, with about $3 million in annual revenues, will remain independent and in Schenectady. Tusty had been in sale negotiations with three companies — including a publicly traded company from New York.

Tusty founded the company in the basement of his Rotterdam home in 1981. For years, Mountain View was based at 5 Park Place, near Union College. Last fall, it relocated to a smaller office at 426 State St., near Proctors. In the early 1990s, Mountain View employed about 30, but its city work force has shrunk to five.

Mountain View in 2000 opened an office in Atlanta, following hundreds of Schenectady workers GE sent to Georgia two years earlier to create GE Energy Management Services. Mountain View’s move to Atlanta, where it employs seven, helped it attract other major clients there, including Coca Cola and Home Depot.

For GE, Mountain View produces bimonthly employee bulletins and employee profiles for the conglomerate’s Intranet.

“Maureen and I are going in a different direction with another kind of film,” Tusty said of his wife, Maureen Castle.

Tusty sold Mountain View just as a documentary film the couple spent the last four years making is starting to spread to theaters across the country. “The Singing Revolution” debuted in December at theaters in Los Angeles and New York. On March 21, it will be screened at the Spectrum 8 Theatres in Albany.

“The Singing Revolution” is about how Estonians in the early 1990s opposed Soviet occupation by holding mass singing protest rallies, which contributed to the collapse of the communist empire.

Over six months in 2004, the couple spent 40 days filming in the northern European nation, which is the homeland of Tusty’s father. They spent $1.2 million making the 96-minute film, which is scheduled to be showing in up to 30 cities within four months.

Even as Tusty and Castle pursue video projects with their newly incorporated Sky Films, they will continue providing consulting and freelance production services for Mountain View. Sky will also focus on producing educational video programs for schools.

On Tuesday, Castle was in Saratoga Springs producing for Mountain View a television commercial about a local financial institution. The Mossey Group, a Schenectady media promotion firm that also recently moved into 426 State St., contracted Mountain View to make three 30-second commercials.

“In some ways, it’s like everything has changed. And in some ways, nothing has changed,” said Castle, a Wyantskill native. She started doing freelance work for Mountain View in 1994 and married Tusty two years later.

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