HME, Clear-Com look to the future

One year after the merger communications giants HME and Clear-Com, the chief executives of the two companies took time to look back upon their first year together. Mitzi Dominguez of HME and Matt Danilowicz of Clear-Com have moved swiftly from ideas to action, merging such factors as technologies, core competencies and corporate cultures while retaining the independent band imprints of the two firms.

“We knew this would be a good fit,” said HME’s Dominguez. “We work in a lot of the same spaces, but in different ways. Clear-Com was much stronger in cabled intercom systems, and we at HME could bring great wireless technology to the table. But what is really important is that there are a lot of shared values and culture between us. That’s why it was such a great marriage.”

“There are some other interesting synergies as well,” Danilowicz said. “Clear-Com has always put an emphasis on pushing the boundaries of innovation, while HME had developed tremendously strong manufacturing processes. So, you’ve got a creatively minded engineering group coming together with another group focused on quality of manufacture. The integration of those viewpoints has the potential to deliver the best of both worlds to the marketplace. We’re all already beginning to see the fruits of that in the first products we’re putting out together as a business.”

New products announced at the NAB Show are being marketed under the Clear-Com brand.

“The Clear-Com brand has worldwide recognition in the pro audio space,” Dominguez said, “so we’re keeping the Clear-Com brand. That’s not going to be changing.”

This can be seen in the first new product at the show, Clear-Com’s HME DX210, a two-channel wireless intercom that is robust, easy to use and can be seamlessly connected into any Clear-Com party-line system. This new version is enhanced with auto-nulling, echo cancellation and other features, providing a simple upgrade path for those adding wireless to existing systems.

Also new is Clear-Com’s Tempest 900 digital wireless intercom, a 900MHz variation of the company’s Tempest 2400 system. This product was developed to offer an alternative to the increasingly crowded 2.4GHz unlicensed spectrum. The system operates license-free for U.S. broadcasters and offers a wide range of functionality suitable for both broadcasters and live performance situations.

Clear-Com also announced Version 2.6 of its Concert AoIP solution, which integrates with the Associated Press ENPS production system through its Concert for Newsroom function. Concert for Newsroom enables field reporters to speak directly to other production team members, including conferencing ability, with the click of a mouse. The Concert for Newsroom solution frees reporters from the reliance on cellular networks, is fully encrypted and is virtually free of latency.

“These are all great examples of what can happen when we work together,” Danilowicz said. “That’s true in product development, but also in manufacturing and distribution. We have over 400 products, and a lot of them are enablers, problem solvers that don’t sell in huge volumes. We’re particularly looking forward to working with HME in that regard.”

In fact, Clear-Com’s manufacturing, which had previously been a mix of in house and outsourced, is being transitioned to the HME facility in Poway, CA.

“We transitioned all our manufacturing in house about 15 years ago,” Dominguez said. “That really gives us much better control of our quality and delivery times. We’re able to get products out quicker and make them more reliable.”

In terms of distribution, the merging of HME and Clear-Com caused relatively little conflict, with nearly 70 percent of distributors already carrying the two brands at the onset. The company is also moving into new markets, diversifying its offerings into new applications.

“When we talk to broadcasters about their business, we want them to know that delivering mission-critical audio is in our mission statement,” Danilowicz said. “We are the de facto standard for intercoms in several military projects, including the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. We’re in the command center for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re here to provide a solid infrastructure to our customers, to provide the tools they need and can rely on. That is the shared vision of Clear-Com and HME.”