Happy Birthday Calzone Cases!

In 2015, as The Calzone Case Company celebrates 40 years in business, it’s a time of unabashed celebration around here, but also cause for a bit of reflection. Where did the time go? I’ve been selling 39 years, and have been selling cases for 35 years. When I was 18 years old my brother hired me to work at a wire and cable factory spooling wire. After about six months he bought me into the office and put me on the phones selling – and I have been selling ever since.

I started selling cases by accident. I met my first wife at my job selling wire and cable, as we worked together in the office.We got married and after about six months of driving to work, working all day, driving home, eating dinner, sleeping and eating breakfast and driving back to work with my wife I began to feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. So I found a job selling tools and hardware, and then my wife told me about this Rep firm who was looking for a sales person. They represented a company called Zero Corporation. I thought how much money can I make selling Zero? Well it turned out they were one of the largest, most successful case manufacturers in the world at the time, selling mostly to the military. And I have been selling cases ever since.

I met Vin Calzone first, as I worked for a case dealer that was the largest Anvil Case dealer in the country. Calzone was our largest competitor, and I remember telling customers that you really should buy the Anvil case. Then Calzone bought Anvil, and I figured I should change my sales pitch. One day the owner called me and said they were going to claim bankruptcy but wanted to make sure I would stay with the company. I said sure I will. I hung up the phone and thought … I have a house, two young children and a wife. So I picked up the phone and called Vin Calzone and never looked back. When I came to Calzone I bought with me the distributor mind set; if the customer does not want a fabricated case there is no need to walk away, lets give them what they need, so Calzone Products was born. We started selling sewn, plastic injection molded, roto-molded and vacuum formed cases, Aluminum cases and more.

I have been with the company for 14 years now, and initially covered NY and NJ with some special customers in Denver. I started working for Calzone in July 2001 – 2 months before 9/11 when the bottom fell out of the business world. There have been ups and downs ever since, we’ve seen the housing market melt down and so on. The one thing I admired most and still do about Joe Calzone is his ability to roll with the punches, and the uncanny knack to restructure as the business environment changes. A lot of companies fold or mismanage themselves out of business. Not Calzone – they bob and weave, and adapt. Getting back to the territories, I now cover the South, FL,GA, and TX with customers still in NY and NJ.

Our Distributed Products division fits into not only multiple markets, but multiple departments within the companies in those markets. Some of the markets that we offer great value to include Medical and consumer electronics. OEM business is always good business because you’re not building 1-5 of anything, you are manufacturing 100-5000, so it allows you for be more proficient in your manufacturing cabilities.

The most impressive fact about Calzone Cases turning 40 this year is that there is no secret technology. The fabricated case business has not changed remarkably in 40 years, and the cases are still built by hand as they were four decades ago. Sure, there is CNC and some equipment and advancements that allow you to produce a little faster, but the cases are still made by hand. What truly sets us apart from our competition is the passion that goes into the business. Joe and Vin, although so different in the way they operate, carry the same passion to make this business succeed. We do things better than any other company out there, How many major corporations out there do you know that you can pick up the phone and get the number 1 and 2 people in the organization on the phone? Try calling Bill Gates and let me know if you get him on the phone. This is a family business, and over the next forty years a new generation of Calzones will be charged with carrying that passion forward. It is an honor working for the best case company in the world. When you are in the everyday grind of the business world, its often a stretch to say you love your job, but I sure wouldn’t want to do anything else. I guess that passion must have rubbed off on me.

Frank ‘No-Neck’ Bravico
Manager Calzone Products

Notes From LDI 2014

This year’s 2014 LDI in Las Vegas was the best show I’ve been to in several years. The attendees at the show were serious and focused and the manufacturers had many new and innovative products that created a lot of interest. Many of my current customers were at the show. They kept me busy measuring products at the Clay Paky, Elation, Chauvet, Vari-Lite and High End booths.

I have 30+ years of experience measuring lighting and sound equipment. A show like LDI provides me the perfect opportunity to measure and document new equipment and to discuss future new products and case opportunities with the manufacturers. Regardless of how long I have been designing cases, you always learn something new, this IS the custom case business. Many of the new lighting fixtures, Clay Paky Mythos for example, have a telescoping lens. When designing a case for this fixture, the head must travel horizontally so the lens is held in the closed position during transit.

Talking with the manufacturers, I was told that it is important for case companies and customers to discuss the configuration of the moving light head in the case. Some moving light heads need to travel vertically with the lens facing down, while others must travel horizontally. The case must be designed to the manufacturer’s specs to avoid damage to the equipment and keep the warrantee in good standing.

A great case design indicator is to inspect how the fixture ships from the factory to the customer in its factory packaging. The factory packaging has been engineered and designed to properly protect the equipment during transit. No reason to reinvent the wheel, even though we sometimes like to. Following these guidelines will give us the best design for the shipping case.

That being said, we also take truck pack dimensions into consideration when designing our cases. The standard is still the ¼, 1/3, and ½ pack size cases. New, larger trucks allow for larger size cases. Again, this is a conversation we need to have with the customer to give them the size needed to maximize the load in the trucks. Also, it has been determined through testing that flat corners allow for a tighter truck pack. We design our cable trunks with flat corners, unless otherwise specified.

Many of our customers color code their cases to distinguish lighting cases from sound cases, video, rack mount, etc. We offer our customers many options in single case colors, multi case colors, silk-screening and descriptive stenciling. One of my customers recently purchased white speakers so these cases where manufactured in black with a white strip. Other popular case options are stacking caster cups, latch stays, recessed hardware and casters. Designing and building custom cases is a challenge we live up to every day.

by Vin Calzone

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Went Looking For Business And Found A Friend

Calzone and Anvil build the best case in the industry – there is no doubt about that. We stand behind our reputation, from being in business for 50 plus years and supplying cases to NASA for the space shuttle, to the guy with the dream of starting his own business, we have been there for both. Calzone has a very good customer in Florida who started their business in 1984; the first case they bought for their gear was from the Anvil Case Company. They now are one of the largest rental companies in the country, with facilities in Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Nevada. Every time I walk into their warehouse I look up at that top shelf where their first Anvil case still sits proud. The owner brags about it to this day; it was the first case they ever bought! It might not be the first dollar he made in his new business, but very well could have been the first dollar he spent in his new endeavor.

Thirty years later we are still supplying their road cases. I have developed friendships and good business relationships with the people who work for this customer. We may not always be the least expensive, but we have staying power. We will be shipping cases long after our competitors close their doors. I am happy to say I have several customers that I have developed personal relationships with; they are not my customers – they are my friends.

To my friends – thank you for all your past, present and future business.

Frankie No Neck.