New Blood

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On behalf of all of us at Calzone / Anvil / Ascot Cases, welcome to our April newsletter. One of the elements of this E-newsletter that I enjoy most is the diversity displayed through our staff’s expertise and the wide range of case product applications shown. Each month we give you a glimpse into a few of the exciting markets we service, and hopefully our passion for this business is reflected throughout. 2015 is a very special year, as The Calzone Case Company celebrates 40 years in business. More on that in the months to come …

This month marks the return of some familiar faces, notably Frankie ‘No-Neck’ Bravico in Steel Ball Corner. As one of our most seasoned sales veterans, Frank brings a unique perspective on our last four decades in business. Calzone Pro Tour Manager Linda Tilson is also back with another ‘Rolling Backstage’ installment of rock n’ roll news.

We’re thrilled to include a new column by Anvil Cases’ legendary designer / sales person Marge Murphy, now in her fifth decade of service at Anvil. In Ms. Murphy’s Law, Marge will lead us through the evolution of her long career at Anvil, and hopefully pass on some good stories along the way.

Richard Johnson (AKA Doctor Anvil) and my brother Vin are at the NAB show this week in Las Vegas, meeting with the movers and shakers of the broadcast industry on their protection requirements. Unlike most of the rest of the pack, we recognize the importance of meeting with our customers firsthand, at trade shows and at their businesses, to address their needs. The tools of the broadcast industry are stellar examples of equipment that requires our level of protection, and often a high degree of individual customization.

Anvil Cases’ Carlos Chavez introduces a new column for our readers, appropriately titled ‘Behind The Lens’. Though adept in many areas, Carlos brings particular experience and skill in servicing the photography and film markets. In subsequent installments, Carlos will explain the intricacies of protecting sensitive camera equipment, and show you a few tricks on how to streamline your workflow through proper case design.

Finally, Anvil Cases’ Roger Lopez and Natalie Garcia report on their activities at the recent SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. It’s no secret that emerging as well as established bands need their equipment safe and secure, and Anvil’s been doing that since 1952.

With all this new (and old) blood injected in our newsletter, hopefully you see that we’ll never be a company that rests on our laurels. And while our illustrious past is fascinating, I am more focused on our future, and how our passion can interface with your current and future needs for protection.

Joe Calzone
President

Winter NAMM 2015

NAMM 2015 was one for the record books. We obtained an unprecedented number of good leads with many more OEM opportunities as well. The Calzone / Anvil / Ascot booth was busy all the time. The tempo of the show was quick, and we were bombarded with a lot of meaningful and well thought out questions, indicating a true need for our products.

We introduced our Mini workbox to the music market as well as our Royal Wardrobe Case. Some of you may recall the last time we made this case was for King Hassan II of Morocco. That was back in 1978, so I thought it might finally be time to offer it to the masses.

Our celebrity artists included Bernard Purdie, who unveiled his long awaited biography ‘Let the Drums Speak’.  Carmine Appice was also in attendance and as usual drew huge crowds to the booth.   Check out these photos of Bernard, Carmine and me, and of Bernard and Marky Hudson, music producer of the highest order, holding their Anvil iPhone Cases.

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And for the first time ever we were thrilled to have Patrick Moraz playing keyboards at the booth.

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For those of you unfamiliar with Patrick I highly recommend you check him out on Google. He played keyboards with Yes and the Moody Blues. Patrick was also key in introducing the first Kurzweil keyboard to the world back in 1985; he worked alongside Ray Kurzweil to develop and demonstrate this revolutionary product.

Patrick, Ray and I were comparing notes on artificial intelligence after Patrick’s performance at the Kurzweil 30th anniversary party Friday night when it dawned on me that I brought a knife to a gunfight, so I excused myself and got a drink.

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We also had Mick Jagger, Bono, David Bowie and Elton John playing at the booth  Saturday afternoon drawing a huge crowd. Well of course not the real guys, these fellows were all winners in the World’s Best Tribute Band Competition held at the Roxy in Hollywood.   Theu sure looked and sang the part.

After each performance I spoke to the crowd to make sure they knew why we were at the show – most stuck around to learn more about our cases and capabilities. It was good vibrations all around.

The biggest surprise guest to grace the booth was the world renowned Marge Murphy, Anvil’s Senior designer and historian. Marge coordinated the design team in their task of collecting specs and lit on new equipment.

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We also introduced the new Anvil IPhone 6 & 6+ mobile device cases to rave reviews and sold quite a few of them during the show.

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I also want to thank those who contributed to the success of the weekend;

Natalie Garcia           Lead Management,  Social Media & Production Assistant
Roger Lopez              Booth Set-Up/Tear Down/Sales and Grip/Photography
Raul Salazar              Design and Data Collection
Frank Vasquez          Design and Data Collection
Carlos Vazquez         Design and Data Collection
Linda Tilson               Customer Development and Interaction
Richard Johnson       New, Old and Current Customer Development
Marge Murphy          Senior Designer and Data Retrieval Coordinator
Deborah Visokay      Booth Manager and Staff Coordinator
Bruce Jordahl            Booth Design/Videographer/Performance Coordinator

Special thanks to Sonia Ynzunza, who could not attend the show in person this year, for all of her pre-show coordination and assistance. Also, a shout out to Rene Elizondo and Jose Beltran for pulling together the Anvil IPhone Case display.  These products helped bring a lot more attention to our booth. Thanks to Matthew Miller and our production team here at Anvil for building the booth and cases necessary to display our products in the best light. Extra special thanks to Javier Rodriquez, Jose Lara and Victor Villa for their help in setting up and tearing down the booth.

Joe

NAMM Show 2015

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Two­Thousand­Fifteen, WOW! Isn’t that the year that Marty McFly traveled to in ‘Back to the Future’? It seemed so far off then. Well here we are in 2015 and I don’t feel much different than 30 years ago, but wait! It was 40 years ago that the first Calzone Case was built in Norwalk, CT. I guess that means we are celebrating our RUBY Anniversary. FORTY YEARS, yes 40 years. How is that possible? Well I guess you put one foot in front of the other and just keep going. Vin and I want to express our sincere gratitude to those who supported, encouraged and had the faith in us during the early years.

I wonder how many NAMM Shows have we attended during those years. Including the Summer Chicago NAMM Shows, the Winter NAMM Shows and the current summer NAMM Shows, let’s leave it at a lot. The very first show we attended was in Anaheim at the Disney Convention Center. We shared a booth with BKL which was the distribution arm for Kramer Guitars. I could write pages upon pages recounting memories from that show alone, let alone all of the others. But that was then and this in now.

We are proud to be exhibiting once again at NAMM this week. Many of the exhibitors are the same as back in 1975, but many more are new and some are missing entirely. Some of the other companies besides Calzone that have stood the test of time include Anvil Cases (1952), Drum Workshop (1972), Fender Guitars (1950), Gibson Guitars (1902), Peavey Electronics (1965), and Zildjian (1623). Those are some serious household names in the music industry.

When you stop by the Calzone Anvil Case booth (#4849) you will be treated to not only a variety of the finest cases in the world, videos tributes from many well known users and celebrities galore, but also musical performances and clinics by some very cool folks. Musical icons such as Carmine Appice, Bernard Purdie, Patrick Moraz and AJ McLean will be in attendance and I am sure some music, stories and interaction will be common throughout the weekend.

After many years of preparation, Bernard Purdie will hold a book signing as he introduces his long awaited tome ‘Let the Drums Speak’. Carmine will be signing his Drummer’s Bible to the ultimate guide for syncopation and independent coordination “Realistic Rock”. Patrick Moraz will be playing the infamous Kurzweil keyboard which he helped Ray Kurzweil bring to the market back in 1985. Speaking of birthdays, Kurzweil is celebrating 30 years since their first keyboard was developed. Maybe we will be lucky and have a Ray sighting. AJ McLean, who continues to write new music and tour with his super star band The Backstreet Boys will be unveiling some new products he has been working on. With a cast of characters like this, you know there will be many others stopping by to say hello and check out what Calzone and Anvil have new for this year’s show. I hear that there may also be a Mick, Freddie, David and Elton sighting on Saturday.

If for no other reason, when you find yourself in Hall C please stop by Booth #4849 so we can personally thank you for the support and business we have been so fortunate to receive from you during our first 40 years. See you in sunny and warm (I hope) Anaheim!

Joe Calzone

NOTES FROM THE BOSS

Just the other day, my Mom mentioned to me that we still have a PAY PHONE in the break room at our Bridgeport location. Imagine that … a pay phone. When was the last time you used one?   She said maybe we should take it down and put it in a more prominent place, perhaps on display as part of our ever growing museum. I guess it can be put alongside my old Radio Shack brick mobile phone, the black and white 13” TV, the stacks of 8 tracks, the CB radio (I could never locate any of my friends on that thing ‘what’s your 20?’), reel to reel tape recorder (the first song I recorded on it was a new release entitled ‘Good Vibrations’) and last but not least, my silver sparkle platform shoes I had to wear when I was in the show band back in the early 1970’s. That was part of the reason why I started to build cases, so I would not have to wear those things anymore. Tough playing drums with those on.

Anyway, back to Mom. She still works three days a week helping the company CFO with various accounting tasks and checking account reconciliations. She is in her early 80’s (a spring chicken) and still has what it takes to keep the bank on their toes with our accounts. My Dad also still putters around the shop when he is not playing golf. Most recently, he rebuilt one of our loading docks in need of a new lift and some concrete work. Dad is in his mid 80’s.

I share this with you because to my dismay, 2015 will mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Calzone Case Company which I was able to start with the support of my parents and their willingness to co-sign a note with the bank for me. Forty years … FORTY YEARS!  Even crazier is that Anvil will be celebrating 63 years in business having been founded in 1952 by Chuck Vallas and his sons Larry and Steve.

We have had the good fortune during our time in business to witness firsthand the advancement of technologies in many industries. The most astounding is the evolution of computers which today touch just about everything we do or use. Our core markets of music, sound, lighting, film, display presentations and video have all benefited immensely from the tiny little chips that now control most everything on land, sea and in the air.

consoleIBM System 38 used by Anvil Cases up until the 1996 acquisition by Calzone Cases.

Although the products we protect have changed, our standards have remained true to our mission of offering the highest level of protection at a fair price with on time delivery. Embracing variations in materials and production techniques are also part of our success and growth. Our case design processes utilizing CAD/CAM systems and CNC equipment allow us to maintain the consistency and tolerances required to offer the protection needed for the very delicate equipment of the 21st Century.

Our quality, history and integrity has not gone unnoticed, as this past year we were featured in a National Geographic television series named ‘Showdown of the Unbeatables’.  I am sure many of you have heard or read about this already, but it is worth one more mention as we close out 2014 and look to 2015 with eager anticipation as we do every New Year.  Our able bodied marketing guru Bruce Jordahl has included a link to the show so you can enjoy the condensed episode for yourself.

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Let’s just say that the bad guys dropped us, smashed us with moving vehicles, tried to impale us and finally, in a very mean spirited way, tried to CRUSH us. Their attempts all failed miserably. UNBEATABLE!

Now we look to new and more efficient methods by which we can continue to deliver our cases to you without compromising our mission and promise to you. We strive for continuous improvements in our methods, material utilization and sourcing to assure our valued clients that the right choice has been made when you purchase a Calzone, Anvil or Ascot Case.

At this time we would like to wish all of our friends and acquaintances around the world a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very successful and healthy New Year.

Joe Calzone

Step Into The Light

Once upon a time, before there was such a thing as a mass produced moving light, there was Bob See. Bob is best known to this industry as the founder of See Factor (www.seefactor.com) in Long Island City, NY.  Prior to opening See Factor, Bob worked alongside legendary promoter Bill Graham at the Fillmore East from 1968 to 1971. Bob and I go way back, probably having first met in the early 1980s.  I had heard of Bob by reputation as he was THE concert lighting guy in the NY Metro area.  Bob was a living legend even then, due to his ground breaking work with Neil Diamond, The James Gang, Billy Joel, David Bowie and many others.

I first met Bob at a NAB Show.  I saw this big guy standing at the edge of our booth, just staring me down.  Not knowing who Bob was, I walked over to where he was standing, looked him in the eye and asked in my most polite New York style, ‘what are you looking at?’  He said, ‘I’m Bob See and I hear you make a pretty good case, kid’.  I knew then that he was the real deal. Bob invited me to visit his facility when we got back from the show and I jumped at the chance.

As I pulled into the See Factor parking lot, my first impression was one of amazement as to how much ‘STUFF’ there was all over the place; there were storage trailers piled two and three high in the small lot.  Little did I know that upon entering, I would be in for an even bigger surprise … the underbelly of the rock and roll touring business.  Bob promptly schooled me on the way he wanted his cases built and why.  I received quite an education that day and for many years to come, as Bob and I worked together from that point forward.  Bob showed me the many Anvil cases he had purchased through Dave Pastore, the legendary Anvil rep based out of New Jersey.  As it turned out, David later came to work with us as we learned our trade and grew into a force to be reckoned with in the case business.

My next lighting case schooling came from a company inNew Jersey by the name of Production Arts Lighting and a guy by the name of Steve Terry.  Steve called me one day in a bit of a panic regarding some new “lights/projectors” they had just received from Austria, known as Pani projectors.  Steve had one of these contraptions brought up to our location in Bridgeport, CT (which, by the way, was our third location in five years).  That was certainly a very interesting challenge as we had not seen a piece of equipment like this before. The 1.2K head, scroller assembly, base, lenses, cables and other parts were required to fit into the case, assembled and ready for action once out of the case. Production Arts had been buying their cases from a company way out in California by the name of Excalibur Cases. They were made using a brown fiberglass exterior laminate which we had to match … we did.  The choice to switch their case work to Calzone was obvious, not only due to the logistical benefits, but also in no small part to our great “in your face” service, delivery and more importantly, QUALITY!

Yeah, the good old days.  We were fortunate to have started at a time when the technology and growth of rock and roll and the touring business was really starting to flourish. Technological advances in the equipment continued to develop in no small part due to the likes of a Bob See and Steve Terry and their visionary guidance. In addition, futurists such as Richard Belliveau of High End Systems continue to give designers previously unimaginable tools.  The industry continues to advance at breakneck speed; on November 21st-23rd we will be witnesses to an amazing display of light and motion at the 2014 LDI Show in Las Vegas.  Calzone, Anvil and Ascot’s designs, materials and production procedures have evolved along with the equipment we are entrusted to protect.  We will be displaying cases for some of the newest equipment to hit the market this year at Booth # 1729. Come see for yourself and try to stump us with a project you have in mind for cases.  If we do not provide you with a solution worthy of consideration, you may just be given a limited edition piece of swag to remember us by – and perhaps give us another opportunity.  As I do not see that happening, just print this newsletter out and bring it along – we will be most happy to award you with a commemorative custom T-shirt representing our brands.

As a side note, we acquired both Excalibur and Anvil Cases in 1990 and 1996 respectively.

Showdown

Not many companies have the opportunity to brag about their product as well as risk their reputation on national TV, but I am proud to say that the Calzone & Anvil Case Company was given that chance. We received a call from G.R.B. Inc. back in July of 2013 advising us that we were being considered for a spot on a new Nat Geo program called ‘Showdown of the Unbeatables’. I am probably not alone in saying that calls such as this are not uncommon, but usually come with a catch such as a large fee for an infomercial type of program. However, we soon discovered that this was indeed for real. After providing detailed company background, history, elite clientele examples, product description and manufacturing processes, we were chosen to be featured on an episode. Now the real fun and agony began.

We were shown a few of the pilot episodes in order to get the feel of the program. The premise was one of cool American made products being tested far beyond their normal performance metrics to prove their worth. This was called the “Proving Ground”. Then a totally different type of product which was also featured during the same episode is pitted against your product in a final “Showdown” to determine which product was “UnbeatableTM.

We started the filming at our Bridgeport, CT HQ on November 20th warm so the outside scenes were rather comfortable. Fortunately, the day was unseasonably weather wise. After the three camera film crew plus the director and PA spent time inside the factory shooting various processes and conducting interviews, we moved outside. One of the first sequences we shot was with my good friend and drum sensei Carmine Appice beating the heck out of a stack of cases using ax handles and bats. No damage to the cases. Unfortunately, this high value demo did not make the cut to the final show. I now know why actors often cry about their best work being left on the cutting room floor or more accurately in the digital age somewhere in the ether. But more on that later.

We also learned that even with a program such as this with inexperienced actors the crew accepts nothing less than excellence in our performance. Don Sessions and I held down the main acting and demo segments with a support cast of all of the Calzone personnel as well as my Dad popping in and out of scenes and having fun with the whole deal.

Let it be known that even with all the confidence in the world I have in our products, there was still that thought in the back of my mind as to whether the cases could withstand the challenges we were putting them through and also protect the contents, which included fine crystal and the most delicate of objects, raw (organic) eggs. We were assisted in the segment where we were throwing the cases off of the back of a truck and then smashing into them with a snow plow by Vin Calzone and his son, Production Manager Tim Calzone. They were camera shy and left the ‘in front of the camera stuff’ to us. In addition to the tests which did make the final cut, we also beat the cases up in many other ways including a battle with the natural born enemy of the road case “THE FORK LIFT”.

We started at 7 AM and did not finish until well after dark at about 8:00 PM. A long day but an exciting and enjoyable experience. In the next issue I’ll share the finals scenes and “Showdown” which put us against the Sidewinder trash compacter, filmed at a secret location in southern California. Until then, enjoy the warm weather and have a great summer!

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