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Die Story über Ampex (8) von 12

Ampex wird weltweit aktiv

Alexander M. Poniatoff was born in Russia and received his technical education in Germany. During the first world war, he escaped to England. After the Bolsheviks won control of Russia, he crossed the border into Manchuria and then into China. From China, he came to the United States. Poniatoff came to the U.S. with a broad view of the world, so it was completely natural that when he formed his company it should look outside the U.S. for sales.

 

Ampex found a ready market for its products in international markets. Radio stations were expand­ing rapidly after the second world war, and they turned to Ampex recorders for help in their work. The first Ampex audio recorders were put to use in Japan, France, England and Vatican City in 1948. When the videotape television recorder came along in 1956, international executives were on hand to witness early demonstrations and were in the early line-up of customers for the first videotape recorders. Somewhat to the consternation of Ampex patent attorneys, the French word for tape recorder became L'Ampex and the infinitive verb to tape was Ampexer.

 

Like most electronics companies, Ampex began its international ventures through an export firm. Rocke International in New York had a well-developed network of sales agents throughout the world by 1947 and it was through this company that Ampex first began to sell abroad. Overseas sales in these early years of tape recording never exceeded $200 thousand per year, but to the young Ampex, this represented good business.

 

By 1954 Ampex took its first major step outside the U.S. Kevin Mallen, a member of Ayala Associates, and then a member of the Board of Directors of Ampex, spent twelve months in Europe, "finding out the peculiarities of the various countries" as a memo of the period put it. Mallen's early investigation of the Ampex future overseas resulted in the decision to establish a European sales office in London. Even in the first ventures into the international marketplaces, Ampex realized that to participate fully in these markets, it would have to manufacture products abroad. Duties, tariffs and the lower costs of manu­facturing would eventually push U.S.-made Ampex products out of economic competition abroad.

Ampex of Canada and expansion worldwide

In May 1955, a first attempt was made to organize for international business. Significantly, in the small group that laid the groundwork for Ampex pene­tration of international markets were Jack Porter, Lee Cross and Ralph Endersby, who are still in management positions with the company. It was at this time that the Ampex Canadian office was established in Toronto, with one employee. Today, more than 130 people are employed by Ampex of Canada, Ltd.

 

This study, like Caesar's first look at Gaul, di­vided the world into three parts. Europe, Canada and Latin America. There was a footnote with a category of "other" which included the Far East, Africa, and the Middle East. It was determined that "other" would continue to be handled by Rocke while Ampex began to establish direct relationship in the three "main" parts of the world. The Toronto office had been opened in May 1955, by Ralph Endersby, a young English engi­neer, who had been a salesman for our Canadian distributor, CGE. Endersby went on to play a key role in the formation of Ampex International, as Marketing Manager and later as Manager of West­ern Hemisphere operations.

 

In Redwood City, during May and June 1955, the International Division was established, along with Ampex American Corporation, a Western Hemi­sphere trading corporation. This first International Division would last one year then be dissolved in 1956. With this move the London office was closed. Ampex American Corporation continued, however, until 1965, having been replaced earlier by the present Ampex Pan American Company.

 

Jack Porter, manager of International Adminis­tration, went back to the Audio Division in 1956, and had a second International career from 1962 to 1967 as Finance Manager of the second Inter­national Division. Today, Porter is Vice President, General Manager of the Magnetic Tape Division. The responsibility for selling products outside the United States from 1956 to 1959 reverted to the individual product divisions. This was a period of expansion for intelligence gathering networks in Europe, of the construction of the Woomera rocket range in Australia, and of the beginning of a hoped-for European space program. Russ Mc-Bride, Export Sales Manager of the Instrumenta­tion Division and his colleagues worked closely with the ministries of defense in major countries and were able to secure orders for FR-100, FR-1100, FR-200, and AR-10 instrumentation record­ers throughout the world. Many of those first in­strumentation units sold abroad are still operating in tracking stations in Germany, France, Scandi­navia, England, and in Canadian, Italian and Japa­nese aircraft.

 

Ralph Endersby, after heading the Canadian of­fice for one year, was brought to Redwood City to become Export Sales Manager for the Professional Products Division. Jim Detlor was named to replace Endersby in Canada. Detlor still heads the Canadian company, having seen it grow from a few hundred thousand dollars in annual sales to well over ten million dol­lars forecast today.

 

Endersby's first assistant in the Professional Products Division was a young man from Berkeley, named Lee Cross who had an AB in political sci­ence and a mind full of electronics terminology imposed by the U.S. Air Force. Cross joined Am­pex in 1955, went to Europe in 1959 to set up an operation in Fribourg, Switzerland, and then to the Far East to set up Ampex Australia and Ampex International - Hong Kong. Today, Cross is Area Manager of the Far East.

 

Ampex Fame Spreads

During this period, Ampex video and instrumen­tation recorders became well established in world markets. Broadcasters outside the U.S. were as ecstatic at having a method of recording pictures on tape as those in America. The Japanese were the first to receive an Ampex video recorder, since their system was a 525 line, 60 field standard iden­tical to the American system. The Canadians and English placed orders at NAB, as did the Germans, but Ampex had further development work to do before it could deliver the 405 and 625 line versions of the video recorder. The first modifications of the VR-1000 for international use were performed in the field by an engineer attached to the Export Manager's staff. Later standards modification was taken on by Siemens and Halske in Germany and Rank Cintel in the United Kingdom; the Ampex video sales agents for these countries.

 

Today, almost every television studio in the world contains at least one Ampex video tape recorder. All three Olympics held since 1960 have utilized Ampex video recorders for worldwide distribution of the coverage of the games.

 

By 1958, Ampex video recorder sales abroad were several million dollars per year and were be­ginning to represent a sizeable portion of Ampex business prompting management to devote greater attention to the development of this market which held such great potential. While the video recorder was forcing Ampex attention to the total world market, the company was also experiencing a steady growth in audio and instrumentation product sales overseas; par­ticularly in Europe. Video recorder orders came in, not only from Cuba, but also from Finland, Singa­pore, Manila, Spain, Nigeria, Peru, Yugoslavia, Thailand and a host of other countries where Am­pex had been previously unknown. The broad scale demand for Ampex products together with the obvious continuing opportunity for further sales abroad led Ampex to consider ways in which it could better serve its worldwide customers.

New Organization in 1958

In September 1958, Ralph Endersby made a presentation to Ampex top management proposing a new International Division. The presentation was held in the home of Joseph McMicking, then a member of the Board of Directors and a large stockholder in Ampex. Joseph McMicking is an authority on international business through his extensive interests in the Philippines and his busi­ness travels throughout the world. Alter reviewing Endersby's proposal, Ampex management agreed that further investigation was necessary to take full advantage of the demon­strated opportunities outside the U.S.

 

As the first step, Ralph Endersby and George Long, then President of Ampex Corporation, de­parted on a round-the-world fact gathering trip to Europe and then to the Far East. (Endersby re­members that trip from Copenhagen to Anchorage and on to Tokyo took 27 hours in a DC-6.) They talked to major customers such as the BBC, Radio Televisione Francaise, the Royal Radar Establish­ment, the German Institut fur Rundfunktechnick, Italy's Olivetti, Holland's Philips, Japan's Nippon Hoso Kyokai and others. They also talked to our overseas agents: Sakata Shokai in Japan, Rank Cintel - United Kingdom, and Siemens and Halske - Germany. At the end of the trip, Long turned to his seat companion and said, "Ralph, I've written to the Board of Directors and told them that there is a great deal of business outside the United States and we should exploit our opportunities. You can't run a railroad from ten thousand miles away."

 

In December 1958, the decision was made to reopen the English office and charter it to investi­gate the possibility of local manufacturing when this would enhance the Ampex profitability abroad in addition to handling the sale of U.S.-manufactured products.

In a kitchen in Moscow

It was in the kitchen exhibit that the famous debate between the two politicians took place. Unknown to Krush­chev, the Ampex crew recorded the exchange on videotape. When Nixon and Krushchev reached the color studio on their tour, Krushchev was in­vited to push the start button on the video recorder which activated a replay of the now famous "Kitch­en" debate. Krushchev was enchanted with the video playback. "We have nothing like this in Rus­sia," he said later. It was subsequently agreed that the tape could be shown to the world, and Gundy, without allow­ing time for a change of mind, spirited the tape out of Moscow buried in the soiled shirts in his suitcase.

 

In New York, Gundy took the tape to NBC, CBS and ABC. All three networks broadcast it in its entirety and kinescope duplicates were made for distribution throughout the free world. Following Krushchev's introduction to the video recorder, Russian television people paid closer attention to Ampex, but no sale. The U.S. govern­ment forbid the sale of video recorders to any of the Iron Curtain countries. Even today, video tape recorders are a licensed commodity and every order is carefully scrutinized by Ampex and fed­eral government departments before a recorder can be shipped. Long after the trade fair was over, however, Russian delegations made attempts to buy large quantities of television recorders. Some­times the attempts were through third parties, sometimes direct. During the Moscow Trade Fair the recording heads used on the Ampex video re­corder were stored each night in the American Embassy in Moscow and released only to Ampex personnel for remounting on the machine the next day.

 

During its first 12 months of operation as a sep­arate division, from May 1, 1959 to April 30, 1960, the International Division achieved $9 million in sales. Ten years later, annual projections are nearly eight times that figure (excluding Mandrel). The early International Division was strongly centralized. In order to launch the new organiza­tion, a group of international specialists went out from Redwood City to work with distributors and customers and to train the now-forming overseas staffs.

 

The first field salesmen were added in early 1960. Tom Daizell of Ampex Canada went to Eng­land to become marketing manager for Redwood City Engineering, Ltd. (which was later to be called Ampex Great Britain, Ltd.) in the summer of that year. Daizell had emigrated from England to Can­ada two years earlier and new found himself back in his home country, working for an American company.

 

Ampex created a fairly sophisticated corporate structure overseas and established headquarters for activities in Fribourg, Switzerland. Fribourg is a small, somewhat drowzy town half­way between Bern and Lausanne. It was exactly on the border of the German and French speaking sections of Switzerland. (As you approach Fri­bourg, the service stations advertise Shell Mit TCP, and as you leave, it is Shel Avec TCP.)

 

At this time back home in Redwood City, the International staff continued to grow as new talents were added. In October 1960, Phil Gundy moved to Senior V\ce President, responsible for the In­ternational, Audio, Video and Computer divisions and Biff Gale replaced him as Manager of Interna­tional. Gale, came from Business International, a newspaper and marketing intelligence service. He left for Studebaker International one year later in October 1961 and was replaced by B. A. "Bill" Olerich, who had joined Ampex in September 1960, as Finance Manager for International and has since guided the growth of Ampex International opera­tions as its President and an Ampex Group Vice President.

 

An ardent mid-70s golfer and father of six, Bill Olerich was born in the small town of Rolfe, Iowa. He graduated from Drake University, served with General Electric and then joined Abbott, a leading manufacturer of pharmaceuticals. At Abbott Inter­national, he rose to the position of Vice President and Finance Manager. He became an Ampex Vice President in October 1961, and a Group Vice Presi­dent in 1967.

 

The new Ampex President, William E. Roberts, had arrived at Ampex in August 1961, and indi­cated a great deal of interest in the international portion of Ampex business. Roberts had been di­rectly responsible for the international operations of his previous company and he knew the world market potential well. His dynamic support of international operations became effective on the date of his arrival.

 

By 1962, the centralized marketing group in Red­wood City was no longer pertinent to the develop­ment of the international organization. It was de­cided then to transfer many of the direct product functions international had maintained to the prod­uct divisions or overseas. At the same time, prime responsibility for marketing was assigned to each of three management "areas."

 

Ralph Endersby was named to head the Western Hemisphere Area, Dr. Peter Axon was named Man­ager of the EAME (Europe, Africa, Middle East) Area and Lee Cross was appointed manager of the Far East Area. Western Hemisphere was made up of Canada, and Latin America. Having estab­lished three major international areas, these were then broken down into regions. This, of course, re­sulted in a proliferation of strange names as na­tional companies were formed: Ampex de Mexico, Ampex GMBH in Frankfurt, Ampex SARL in Paris - some two dozen in all (excluding Mandrel).

 

In the Far East, Lee Cross had been building a network of sales agents throughout the Orient. Am­pex Australia was established as an entity and is presently managed by Henry Baderle, a native Czech and former Tokyo resident. Cross set up headquarters on the island of Hong Kong, and later moved to the present headquarters overlooking the Star Ferry on the Kowioon side. The three areas concentrated on sales of the complete Ampex product line in their markets. Throughout this build-up of marketing organiza­tion it became increasingly evident that to be truly competitive in international markets Ampex would have to manufacture in the markets it served.

Manufacturing Abroad

In August 1959, the first products to be manu­factured outside the United States were produced at the plant at Reading, England. Production began with instrumentation recorders. A gradual build-up of capability at the British plant continued until, today, audio, computer, instrumentation and broad­cast video products are manufactured at Reading. The early prediction that Ampex would force itself out of international competition if it continued to rely solely on U.S.-manufactured products for over­seas markets soon proved to be fact.

 

At this time Ampex was beginning to feel the first pressure in overseas markets from competitor companies who had the benefit of European and Far Eastern manufacturing operations. The first Ampex parts and service center was opened in 1962 at Boeblingen, Germany, to serve customers in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Later, the Boeblingen facility was modernized and expanded to include a customer training work­shop in closed circuit television products and serv­ice techniques.

 

Mandrel Broadens Scope

When Mandrel Industries Inc. was merged into Ampex in 1963, its products and services brought with them much broader penetration in interna­tional markets and increased Ampex revenues from sales abroad. Mandrel, a major geophysical con­tractor and manufacturer of geophysical equip­ment and electro-mechanical color sorting ma­chinery, had a well-etsablished position in world markets. More on this Ampex subsidiary in a fu­ture chapter.

 

In 1963, Ampex announced that it would begin construction on an addition to the Reading plant which would more than double the capacity of the British manufacturing facility. At the same time, plans were announced for another European plant in Nivelles, Belgium, to manufacture instrumenta­tion and computer equipment to serve the Common Market. The Nivelles plant was officially opened in 1965 and in 1967 it was expanded to allow for production of audio and video products. Video products such as the VR-2000 are assembled from kits provided by the Redwood City manufac­turing activity.

 

Japan had long represented lucrative opportuni­ties for sales of video and computer equipment. But this country also offered some special obsta­cles. Between 1956 and 1960 some 40 video tape recorders had been delivered to Japanese tele­vision stations. At this time, the country's Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) placed an embargo on the import of video equipment. This embargo was not lifted until two important points could be re­solved. First, in September 1964, a joint venture agreement with Toshiba (Tokyc-Shibaura Electric Company) was validated by the Japanese Govern­ment.

 

Toshiba is to Japan as General Electric is to the U.S. This new company was to produce video and computer products. And, second, Ampex granted license rights to its patents covering video tape recording techniques to several Japanese companies. The result of the joint manufacturing agreement is Toamco (Toshiba-Ampex K.K.). Toamco shared a portion of a Toshiba building in Kawasaki, Japan. In 1968, Toamco purchased four acres of land near Yokohama to construct and oc­cupy a facility of its own to house its employees and activities. By that time, Toamco employment had grown to more than 200.

 

In 1961, a core memory stack production plant in Hong Kong called Ferrotec Ltd., was estab­lished to augment the production of the Computer Products Division in Culver City, California, as an overseas arm of that plant. Expanding demand for cores and arrays led to an expansion of the Hong Kong plant in May 1965, which more than doubled manufacturing capacity to meet the growing needs for core products.

Manufacturing in Canada

The first manufacturing in Canada began in 1967 with three lines of audio recorders for home use. The decision to manufacture in Canada was prompted by the high import tariffs on recording products. By 1968, Ampex of Canada had added closed circuit video recorders to its manufacturing capability. Shortly thereafter, the Canadian government dropped its import duties on recording products almost one-half, making its economically unrealistic to continue Canadian manufacturing when these products could be supplied easily from the U.S. It was decided to discontinue the Cana­dian manufacture of recording products in March 1968. Fortunately, Ampex had identified the grow­ing market for pre-recorded music in Canada and quickly substituted a Canadian Ampex Stereo Tapes duplication center allowing Ampex to main­tain the key employees who had been involved in the initial manufacturing venture. Presently, some 50 people are involved in the CAST activity and the duplication center has plans for continued ex­pansion as the pre-recorded tape market in Can­ada increases.

 

Ampex of Canada also maintains a highly effec­tive special products group within its organization to handle product modifications and the design and construction of complete television studios and mobile vans. Recent projects of the special products group have been a $1,300,000 complete mobile television production facility and special mobile units to house the HS-100 variable speed disc recorder.

 

This international manufacturing expansion was conducted under the direction of Olerich, Andy Andersen, and James Walsh. Andersen went to Nivelles. Belgium, in 1963 to oversee the construc­tion and start-up of the plant there and was pro­moted to Manufacturing Director of the EAME area in 1965 with responsibility for all manufacturing operations in this area. In 1966, Andersen returned to the United States as Manufacturing Operations Manager for the Computer Products Division head­quartered in Culver City. California.

 

On Andersen's return to the U.S., James Walsh, formerly Manu­facturing Manager on Olerich's headquarters staff, was named Manufacturing Director for EAME. Rob­ert Weismann, Ampex Vice President and formerly Manager of the Instrumentation Division, replaced Walsh on the International headquarters staff. Following Dr. Axon's resignation in 1968, Walsh was named EAME Area Manager. In August 1969, Walsh resigned the post, and Andersen returned to England as Area Manager of EAME.

 

In March of 1969, construction and occupancy of a 40,000-square-foot plant in Tao-Yuan, Taiwan, was complete. The Taiwan plant will initially man­ufacture sub-assemblies for tape memory systems for the Computer Products Division and sub-as­semblies for consumer video products. Also in 1969, the Magnetic Tape Division an­nounced plans for the construction of an 80,000-square-foot facility in Battice, Belgium, which will furnish international markets with Ampex record­ing tape.

 

Because of economics, many of the parts and materials used to construct products abroad are purchased from sources within the country in which the plant is located. However, the overseas plants continue to rely on domestic plants for engineering designs and some of the more sophisticated parts and sub-assemblies.

International Employment Grows

Today, Ampex has more than 3,000 people (ex­cluding Mandrel personnel) employed outside of the United States and less than one percent of these employees are American. The company pre­fers, wherever possible, to hire and train nationals to conduct the company's business abroad. International Division sales have grown at a faster rate than the domestic operations of the company and when combined with Mandrel revenue abroad represented 28 percent of the total Ampex income in Fiscal Year 1969. The rapid expansion has been attributed to the increased concentration on sales, service and manufacturing within the international markets themselves.

 

The latest arms of the Inter­national Division are Electronica Ampex Argentina, S.P., and a company in South Africa. For the International Division, history is yester­day. There is no pause in the growth and develop­ment of the Ampex organization which serves the countries of the United States, and no logical point where a neat knot can be tied and one can say, this is Ampex International. Under Bill Olerich, the Ampex International organization has remained malleable and ready to meet the changing needs of the customers and the corporation in Ampex markets abroad.

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