Ross Targets 12G, IP and China Expansion

These last few years have seen tremendous expansion for Canada-based Ross Video, not only in terms of product offering, but also company acquisitions, and regional offices. In the Asia-Pacific, the last 12 months has seen the company establish facilities in both Singapore and Sydney

“We also expanded our office in London, England,” says Ross Video CEO, David Ross, “which I know is outside of your geographic area, but let me tell you – my CFO noticed that we opened three major offices in one year.”

What is the reasoning for that, as opposed to leaving it to dealer channels?

“Well, even with all the bids and tenders and everything else – the formalities that can go on in any region – in the end people are buying from people, people are developing trust, they want relationships. They want to be able to pick up the phone and know that somebody’s in their time zone, they want to be able to look somebody in the eye and say, ‘Will this work? Can you deliver this?’, and go directly to the manufacturer that’s ultimately supplying the gear.

“So, we’re not doing this to cut out, in any way, our business partners. They’re absolutely critical to help me do business in Asia, but it’s really showing that we’re here to make those relationships, to be able to look them in the eye and support them, and it’s also a really good sign of just how much business we’re now doing in Asia.
“It’s also giving us a place for our tech support people to work out of, it’s a place for us to keep some spare parts, and just a great place to meet up with our customers and our business partners. One thing that’s interesting about this is, you could argue whether we did it the right or the wrong way, we built these facilities because we had the business already to support it. We had so much business that it was a no-brainer actually to build these facilities.

So, you have Sydney and Singapore offices. I’m wondering about North Asia, China specifically.

“We have a number of employees in China now and we did listen to our CFO this time and we decided to make the China office next heading into our next financial year, which starts in November, so we’re already planning out the next facility, the bricks and mortar for China, which will be in Beijing.

Will there be similar functions to the other offices?

“It will be sales, tech support, demonstration area, spare parts, working with both our business partners as well as our customers. It’s a pretty good combination.”

And, mostly local staff?

“All local staff. We don’t parachute in a Canadian.”

Are there any particular challenges about that market that you’re anticipating?

“In some ways there’s unique challenges, in other ways there aren’t. I mean, there’s pressures for discount, there’s people that care more about what the discount is than the final price. That seems to happen a bit in China, and we’re still a one pricelist company. I know some people have gotten around that by coming up with the Asia pricelist and then just give you a 50% discount right off the bat. We don’t do that.

“From the point of view of technology, in China there is more local technology than there is anywhere else that you don’t see anywhere else, and suddenly you come up against a Chinese newsroom system or a Chinese character generator and it’s like, ‘Oh that’s interesting’, and they don’t follow marks, and they don’t follow some protocols. So, integrating with some of these devices and working
through with the new technical partnerships, that’s a little bit new because it is a little bit of a different world in China than it is everywhere else.”

At SMPTE17 in Sydney, you gave a presentation entitled, ‘12G or IP?’ What were you trying to encapsulate in that question?

“There’s a lot of confusion that’s going on in the industry, especially ‘Should I go IP?’, but if your concern is being future-proofed then well what are you being future-proofed from? Usually, it’s going 4K. So, if you’re really worried about 4K, then UHD, 12 gig will get you there and still be compatible with everything you do today, whether its 1080P or 1080I.

“One of the things I was trying to get to was, ‘where’s the breaking point where its economically or technically required to start considering IP versus ‘you’re crazy to do IP, it’s easier to do it in SDI.’

“I went through the technology background on that, but also started comparing something like [Ross’]Ultrix router, which can do 72-in and 72-out and also do a Multi-viewer – it’s a processing router and also doing audio. Then saying, ‘Well, if we’re trying to do that in [SMPTE] 2110, you need an outboard multi-viewing box, you need outboard audio processing, but you wouldn’t have to do the dis-embedding, re-embedding because IP sends them in separate streams. So, you get a savings over there but at the same time you have so many signals that are coming from originating devices that you don’t want to connect directly into the core switch or you’re going to be wasting a whole lot of bandwidth. So, you want to aggregate, which means that now you need top of racks. Well, how many top of racks are equivalent to an Ultrix?

“So, I went through that and showed that it turned out to five $20,000 top of racks going into a core switch before you even got to do any functionality – and then you have Ultrix and 2RU.

“I was able to show that for fly-packs and smaller installations you can do it for a fraction of the price in UHD in 12G SDI, but when you’ve got a multi-studio, large infrastructure, a major television facility, you just can’t get there with the UHD system and a traditional SDI router. It’s kind of interesting to show both and it’s also useful for customers to see that Ross is investing heavily in both, because you could argue that there’s lots of money in big facilities, but there’s also a lot of small fly-packs, lots of small churches, legislatures, you name it, and there’s a market for both areas and I think people have extremely different needs.”