Face Time

How many times do we all read those words “Face Time”, and automatically we think of a very popular handheld device that easily connects us in with the other person, also on a handheld device, who then talks to us on a little video screen.  That’s a real easy way to communicate, isn’t it? Well…

Recently I had a new client in the aerospace industry who was desperately needing advice on how to transport a military Government Issued antenna inside a Anvil Case across the world into foreign lands. The engineer and I went through our initial telephone qualifications together, but we reached a point where I had to actually see the product in order to accurately produce a estimate for a custom build. I asked the client if he could send me photos and drawings of the device.  His answer was that they could not show me any parts of this product electronically over e-mail,  then he asked ‘what about FaceTime on video’ ?

I offered a better Face Time solution; I scheduled a time to go see the client, measure the product, meet his engineering team, network with the procurement people and establish a real ‘Face Time’ relationship with people working in the U.S Government. Sometimes in sales we choose an effective, simple path for communicating with clients, but there’s really no replacement for actually going to see a client and have that real ‘Face Time’ connection.

Because of that two hour drive to see this very important customer, Anvil Cases now has a new facility for Dr. Anvil to service new engineering teams within the government who definitely require some ‘Face Time’! Please keep your letters and cards coming, I read them all. Be sure to follow my travels on my Twitter handle  @DoctorAnvil

doctor facetime

The Doctor Visits NAB

Seems like our salesmen are always on the road; this month is no exception and the occasion is the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) trade show in Las Vegas. The broadcast industry is of course a very popular market for Anvil and Calzone Cases. If you’re toting around a $75,000 broadcast Hi-Def camera, it’s a pretty sound idea to have it travel in one of our cases.

But there’s so much more than cameras here. Our Airflow Shock racks, workboxes, grip cases and more have turned into the silent heros of this industry. It’s no understatement to say that time is money, and often our custom designs not only transport, but facilitate getting the job done faster. I’ve said it before, but when you listen to your customer’s requirements for weight, size, time and a dozen other parameters, we come out the other side with a product that is rugged, beautiful and efficient.

NAB is a great show to see a cornucopia of new products, and probably some emerging technologies as well. It’s also a great opportunity to bump into old friends – familiar faces that are here annually, and make some new ones as well, which I look forward to over the next few days.  The majority of the exhibitors here make technological wonders that require the protection of our cases. I’ve only been here one day, and already the Doctor has found a nurse. Have mercy! We can all use a little help!

Doctor Anvil

Senior Case Designer

raulAnvil’s mild-mannered Senior Case Designer Raul Salazar is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but underneath that cool exterior lurks another character – one that came out unexpectedly at the recent NAMM show. Raul is one of Anvil’s true superstars; like everyone in our sales force, I rely on him extensively to produce the plans for my customer’s intricate case designs. He also oversees the production of all Ascot Superior Flight Cases. As a veteran of Anvil, his experience and knowledge is invaluable to me and my customers.

NAMM is a four day trade show, which means things can get a little crazy by the third or fourth day. Working the booth with Raul on Saturday, I noticed that his badge was reversed, and that ‘somebody’ had written ‘HULK’ with a permanent marker on the reversed side. Of course, Raul is a consummate professional and most mere mortals would never get to see his temper, and there was nothing but good vibes on our booth, but his alter ego persona gave us all a good laugh – just the mental image of Raul getting angry, his Ascot Cases polo ripping under the trade show lighting – was enough to lighten the pace of a long show.

Often in business, individuals tend to forget the importance of the human element in success. It’s almost always the people behind the scenes that are responsible for a company’s greatness. The best never stop listening and learning, and that absolutely impacts the bottom line. So the next time you think of Anvil Cases as some big corporate machine, remember we’re also a family – one that builds the best protection your money can buy. And yes, there are some of us that are a little ‘green’.

Doctor Anvil

I Walk The Line

doctor anvil driving

Outside sales? Yes, it’s still alive and yes, there are still real people out there waiting to get a handshake and get their gear evaluated. Sometimes all it takes is a song from a legend like Johnny Cash .. you can sing these words to get you going.

“I keep a close watch on this heart of mineI keep my eyes wide open all the timeI keep the ends out for the tie that bindsbecause you’re mine, I walk the line”

Recently I visited with a client in Hollywood with specific needs for a new OEM product they wanted to incorporate into our Anvil Cases. I met with the client, we reviewed the drawing and we decided to move forward; it was a simple well prepared sales call that had a good outcome.

When I was leaving their facility I noticed that Hollywood Blvd. and other surrounding streets had developed recently with walk­in rental and commercial Pro Camera and indie type businesses. I was curious to see what was going on, so rather than jump in my car and lose my great parking spot in front of one of the most famous clubs in Hollywood, I stocked up on my business cards and literature and started walking. I came across some very cool art and movie prop stores along with some high­end camera rental and resale shops. Most of these new modern businesses had counter service and a very knowledgeable, well­educated staff to assist in sharing their business models with me.

It was a classic “cold call” outside salesman day with very “warm” welcoming business owners who all have one thing in common, they all offer extremely valuable gear that offer solutions to the Pro Cinema and art industries. Anvil Cases definitely has a warm place in our hearts for these industries, it’s just that sometimes you have to go walk around to find them!

Speaking of walking, the Doctor is getting ready to cruise the motherlode of all music trade shows, NAMM baby! It’s a fantastic environment to visit with old friends and make new ones. Special thanks to Roland Corporation for providing gear to our booth. And in case you wonder how Doctor Anvil gets ready for a day at NAMM, paste this Youtube link into your browser:


Switching Gears

Case salesmen have to switch gears quite often. Last month we were in Las Vegas for the LDI 2014 tradeshow; a hotbed of lighting technology, industry movers and shakers, events and awards shows, LDI is the best place to see new gear and be among the production industry.

Next month we travel all the way to Anaheim, CA for the 2015 Winter NAMM Show, THE place to be if you’re in the music biz. The Doctor will be in the house, along with nearly a dozen of my contemporaries from Anvil, Calzone and Ascot Cases. Our job is to protect your investment with the most rugged and appropriate case possible. And I’ll be shifting gears from chain motors and LEDs to the smorgasbord of musical instruments that NAMM exhibitors and attendees are passionate about this year. We work extensively with major musical instrument manufacturers, and it’s always exciting to see the new toys they debut. And it’s thrilling to have the opportunity to speak with our end user customers about their unique needs.

Did you know a quality violin can set you back 40 or 50K? Or that if you play sousaphone that bad things can happen if your axe isn’t in an ATA case? Horns in particular are quite susceptible to travel damage. You carried your $250,000 1959 Les Paul Custom in a gig bag? Well bless your heart! We’re here to make sure that you don’t suffer irreplaceable loss ­ in a cookie cutter world, the advantages of our custom manufacturing make it possible to properly protect any piece of gear ­ most importantly, yours!

I would usually say the Doctor knows best, but one of the case gurus joining me at NAMM is Marge Murphy. As Anvil’s most tenured employee, Marge brings decades of experience and wisdom to the MI case game. She handles our most sophisticated designs, and has pretty much seen it all! We’re thrilled Marge will be at the show this year.

The holidays are now fully upon us, and most businesses are thinking about meeting year end deadlines and planning for trade show travels and booth layouts for their new 2015 product releases. The panic e­mails and phone calls from our customers are as predictable as the winter flu season; they all need protective Anvil Cases to move their gear around safely to the next BIG Gig on New Year’s Eve ­ or just simply planning for early 2015 trade shows. My strategy always stays the same, I listen to the client and become familiar with their realistic goals and ideas for the rush deadlines they need met. Sometimes these last minute sales calls with our clients are like therapy sessions for them; we meet and talk about what a disaster it would be if they cannot deliver there product to the client on time without an Anvil Case protecting it, Then we find the core of the challenge and move forward with our next proactive steps. My suggestions are always the same ­ if we work together effectively with all the accurate data needed, then we “both” will meet the deadline and now the year end panic becomes a success. I may or may not be a real doctor, but my prescription is this: let’s plan ahead so we can “really” enjoy the Holidays!

Doctor Anvil


Wrap up that Audio

AES showRecently during my weekend travels through downtown Los Angeles, calling on the locals in the stage and lighting industry, I came across the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was currently hosting the world famous AES show (Audio Engineering Society)  that had been absent from our town for a few years. The “new “hip Downtown L.A. area sure did dress up well for this one. I decided to drop in and check out some old friends and make some new ones as I walked and talked to super smart business people exhibiting high-end audio related products.

It sure was refreshing to witness and watch the product display experts demonstrate the products they developed and feel very passionate about. The overall Buzz in the room had the feel of the NAMM show on a Friday night, with so many exhibitors visiting each other and sharing with new dealers and end users.

Most Pro Audio OEM’s all have one thing in common; they all require professional transport packaging to brand their products with when traveling the world for display. Each time I would introduce myself as the L.A. Anvil / Calzone /ASCOT Case guy, it reminded the principals of these exhibitors that the product they are offering must be protected by the best in the industry. I heard what they were saying and guaranteed them that our brands would stand by them and we would evolve with their growth as well. What a great show to attend and learn from, I have to say I saw and heard the best pro audio gear in the world, along with the best tradeshow booth candy jars in the world!

One more thing – if you like music as much as I do, don’t forget to get your hearing professionally checked every year or two.

Doctor Anvil

RJ at show

Lose That Extra Weight For Summer

Weight … what can we say, it’s a personal thing and a professional challenge. With today’s business environment, especially in the case industry, weight is the all important variable. We’re quite used to manufacturing ABS and plywood for the heavyweight requirements of the staging and cinematography industries, but there are many other businesses that have large, lightweight items who require fabrication of custom cases at Anvil or Calzone. Often, the weight of the wood just kills the deal ­ if you have some medical equipment that’s three feet square but 1/3rd the weight of a stage light, you can’t put that in a traditional wood fabricated case  … but we have a solution with the XLT and XLT15 materials. XLT is our hard plastic polyethylene material that is 30% lighter than wood. Once we introduce XLT to the client, and they agree to move forward with a drawing and a weight estimate, about 80 to 90 percent of the time they take that alternative. It’s not the most aesthetically gorgeous material, but it comes in black, it does the job, and it can save the client massive shipping fees if they’re going to move this over and over again. The next big question is ‘can you customize the inside like your regular Anvil Cases? The answer is ‘yes’; we can customize that case with the same results.

Anvil and Calzone keep moving forward and discovering what we can do; we keep listening and they keep telling, and we keep providing a solution. As I’ve said before, the most important thing we can do as the industry leaders is to listen to the customer about their challenges, and weight is so important when it comes to moving their products around the country. The 1/4″ XLT and 3/8″ XLT­15 each have an exterior texture that’s different, but it is also manufactured to handle the rigors of the road. There are size limitations to both products, and we have to determine what those are by examining what will go inside the case. It’s so important to be hands on and engage in the process. It is time consuming, but the end result is a satisfied client.

We can also combine all three materials with one build, depending on the application. We can use the wood for the bottom of the case where the casters are mounted, the lid can be XLT to save on weight for this large item that individuals will have to lift off by themselves, and we can use the XLT 15 for the interior, foam lining it as partitions ­ that’s also a weight saver. Weight, weight, weight … it comes up in every conversation. ‘What does it weigh, what can I save, do I really need wood, what do you have?’ That’s when I open up my bag and show them everything. Medical and aerospace clients are constantly moving extremely valuable equipment around that is often lightweight ­ that’s why we provide a lightweight alternative.

Every Kinda People

I am often asked what I love most about my career in the protective road case industry. Most days I find the greatest pleasure in working with new customers to determine the designs, case styles and options that will best protect their equipment. Like the late Robert Palmer sang, ‘It takes every kinda people, to make the world go ’round.’ We come across new customers in all industries, from consumer products to the local markets to every facet of our professional lives. As experienced salespeople, we know our routine, we have our goals, but we must ground ourselves – in this business of protective road cases -that we’re all going to speak with a client about a case, and they usually have no idea what questions to ask or how to move forward, so often I become their coach in the process.

I still enjoy working with an absolute newcomer, whether they are a trade show manager, a scientist with an aerospace account, a trucking dispatcher or an A/V engineer. I still enjoy asking questions and qualifying – as if I was the customer. I typically need to go to their environment and see firsthand what they really want to do. I take their design down the road slowly and methodically. What’s your product, what’s going to be attached to it, what are your goals, and how and when are you leaving with it – so we can all plan together to meet those deadlines.

Anvil and Calzone recently went through two months of trade shows – the first being the NAMM musical exhibition in January and soon after an armed forces trade show, literally across the highway from the cacophony of the Anaheim Convention Center. While the dialogue, the clientele, and the programs were all completely different, each show had newcomers to educate. We met with musicians who had been putting guitars, amps, cymbals and other gear in cardboard boxes and plastic bags, and then into vans. As they still have much to learn about equipment protection, part of our job is to educate them on how to best secure their valuable axes. They don’t usually know how to to design one around their individual piece. Next, I’m speaking with a scientist who works for the naval armed forces. This gentleman could tell you how to get to the moon and back, but doesn’t know how to protect his $500,000 radio and get it to Afghanistan and back in one piece. Once again, I start off with those basic terms – what do you have, what are your goals, and what is the environment it will be traveling in – so we know how to accurately specify a solution. The military newcomer is a genius when it comes to plotters and printers, but he doesn’t know how each component of a case functions, so he’s showing me how to operate this plotter, and I’m showing him how the case will protect it.

It’s still exciting to design a product customers will find useful over and over again, and when we achieve success on that first case, it’s not only very gratifying, it’s a future referral for Anvil and Calzone Cases. Keep those cards and letters coming … until next time (measure twice, cut once).

Doctor Anvil