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Calrec bucks trend, posts explosive growth

Despite a worldwide recession, digital broadcast console manufacturer Calrec Audio has had two outstanding quarters, growing by almost 50 percent, expanding into a second building and hiring new staff. Throughout the economic downturn that began in 2008, Calrec has remained profitable. According to managing director Roger Henderson, sales of large-scale consoles did fall off briefly but soon rebounded to prerecession levels. This is due to a number of factors, including pressure within the broadcast market to transition to digital consoles with 5.1 capabilities.

To ensure retention of its leadership position as sales rebound, Calrec recently embarked on a round of hiring. The R&D department, already large by industry standards, has added 15 software engineers and two project managers. With this bulked-up staff, Calrec has organized its engineers into five teams: software, GUIs, audio systems, new product development and product test. Because every Calrec console requires custom work, including metering options, panel layout and customized networking, the company also hired additional test personnel. One focus of the expanded R&D department is development and implementation of new features for Calrec’s flagship Apollo console system.

Besides the industry-wide interest in digital consoles, Calrec's resilience results from its strong position in the outside broadcast (OB) market. For example, more than 65 percent of HD trucks in North America carry Calrec consoles. Long-term customer relationships are another major focus at Calrec, which was founded in 1964 and has been building audio consoles since 1971.

For 20 years, Calrec has been headquartered in the Nutclough Mill, built in 1797 and home to the first worker-production textile cooperative in England. Calrec customers are accustomed to being able to track their console's progress through manufacturing at the mill and even to picking up new consoles there. The company has expanded by taking over the 8000sq-ft Pennine building only 200yd away. The additional space, now devoted to software development, should support expansion for at least another four years.