HAMPTON, NJ-Twenty-five years ago Dr. Joseph Kramer, an Israeli man with a degree in Biochemistry and a passion for electronics, tinkered in his garage until he emerged with the first signal processor to bear his name. He began selling it to the Israeli, Dutch, and UK markets, remaining a small company for several years as he continued to develop products. As the Kramer name spread, Michael and Richard Hochstein, American brothers who had migrated back to Israel, approached Dr. Kramer. They offered to invest in Kramer Electronics and take it to the next level by expanding distribution beyond its primary markets. They began selling through catalog houses and opened office branches outside of Israel.
Kramer US's president Dave Bright
Since opening its American office nine years ago, Kramer has gone dealer direct and has about 15 offices worldwide in about 70 different markets. During the last 10 years the company has increased its sales 25 times over. Dave Bright, president of Kramer US explained, "When I joined the company nine years ago there were fewer than 100 products on the line, and now we're up to over 600. This is a very rapidly growing company."
Kramer's development of high-end gear can also be attributed to its acquisition of Sierra Video Systems. Bright said, "About three years ago we purchased Sierra, who had originally been a supplier to us for routers. After they had been supplying us for a year or two, it was such a great synergy that we decided to acquire them. It has worked out very well because with Sierra as a broadcast, high-end company, and the professional AV arm of Kramer we have a very nice push-pull effect in the market.
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Kramer Electronics attributes its success to close relationships with end users and attention to their feedback, allowing them to develop products that use contemporary technologies.
Such considerations and risks led to a recent development by Kramer that has literally created a new category of devices. Kramer's VP727, a dual output, seamless switcher scaler has capitalized on the feedback it had been receiving for years. Chris Kopin, VP of product development and training for Kramer US, spoke on the VP727. "Kramer's been very successful with a line of single output scalers, which have been around now for probably two and a half to three years, that do extremely well in the church and education market. And this was kind of the next step, to have a true seamless switcher that gives you the preview and program output designed to run the live event. It's kind of the box that's running the show."
Bright noted, "When we first developed scalers with picture-in-picture (PIP) capability we took them into the church market first and they standardized it. We've had tremendous penetration into that market. The education market is now picking it up and running with it because it's a high-featured and fairly well-priced product, so you don't have to take on a full blown system with different controls." The VP727 has been a huge percentage of Kramer's overall sales and growth for the last two and a half years.
While the VP727 has been thriving mostly in the church and education markets the feature set and affordability has begun to attract other businesses as well. Bright said, "One of the nice things about a box like this is that it's so multifunctional it tends to find other niche markets. We knew going in from the church and education markets that there was something there for the staging and rental business, so we put that into the VP727 and now it's been accepted."
Kramer has received much of its feedback by assisting in larger installations. The recent refurbishment of Casino Niagara in Ontario was attended by Kramer Associates. The casino installed hundreds of Kramer products and routers, which helped their engineers to develop new ideas on its twisted pair and Cat-5 products. They also visited an installation at a Florida horseracing track where some of its products are embedded. Bright expanded, "There's about eight to 10 racks of our products and we've been down there to see how they work with the other products that they're using. It really enhances our product development."
Kramer's VP-727 Switcher
Kramer's VP-727 In-CTRL is a seamless switcher with dual scalers built in. Switchers like this model offer preview and program output channels and can switch frame-to-frame between two sources. Each scaler in the VP-727 In-CTRL seamless switcher incorporates the latest incarnation of Kramer's K-Storm scaling technology for affordable image quality. With K-Storm scaling technology, both 3:2 and 2:2 pull down de-interlacing are available along with full up and down graphics scaling.
The In-CTRL seamless switcher automatically accepts and processes all variations of NTSC, PAL, and SECAM signals. Signals can be input to the VP-727 on any of eight universal inputs comprised of five BNC connectors per input. Each universal input can accept a composite video, S-Video (Y/C), component video, RGB, RGBS, or RGBHV input signal.