Spike Tape? Here’s The Story

Tape From TheTapeworks.com

People in theatre, video and film know that spike tape is a valuable tool for making sure that performers, props and set pieces end up where they belong.

Spike tape is simply gaffers tape cut to a narrow, half inch width. Since it is available in 20 colors, it can be used to mark locations for different actors (you stand on the red mark while she stands on the blue) as they move through a scene.

Those who study theatrical history know of the legend where spike tape got its name.

In the days of Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, the actual floor of the stage was dirt. In order to lay out specific locations on that stage, the director would actually put spikes into the ground to show the actors where to stand.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
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Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Maybe The Customer Isn’t Always Right

I try to spend a few minutes each day reading up on ideas related to sound business practices. There is an unending source of good (and sometimes not so good) ideas for business management available.

One of the ideas that comes up over and over is the timeless concept that “the customer is always right”. After many years of selling specialty products online and through catalog sales, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

I field at least a couple of phone calls every day from a prospective customer who needs to be talked out of making a purchase from us. This is sometimes harder to do than one might think, but I would always prefer to lose a sale than to sell you the wrong item.

Over and over, a customer will try to talk me out of recommending that they not use a tape product for an outdoor application because it does not have UV protection and is not intended to stand up to exposure to sunlight.

Time after time, I have to convince a customer that using an extension cord of too small a gauge will create a fire hazard.

I wish I had a nickel for all the times I have tried (unsuccessfully) to convince a caller that the performance of a ProCell battery is identical to that of a Duracell CopperTop.

It has always been our hope that by creating web sites that were deep with information that we could lead customers to make the right choice-a purchasing choice that would provide a product that met their needs. The same theory is at work when we provide information that should help a prospective customer realize that they product they are considering is not the right item to meet their needs.

Sometimes we lose a sale by insisting that the customer is not always right, but, in the end, this is a lot more satisfying than trying to always make the sale.

Are you someone who believes that conventional business wisdom is not always the way to go? Share your thoughts with us!

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517les.

Does A Better Package Create A Better Product?

We’ve been selling a product called tie line for a long time. It is used by lots of theatrical and special events production companies for tasks like drapery hanging, bundling and cable management. It is also known by the name “trick line” because its matte black color means that you can’t see it on a darkened stage or against a black backdrop. Its handy for all sorts of special effects.

There’s not really a lot that can be done to improve this braided cotton cord. Or that’s what I thought until we received our first shipment from a new supplier for this product. For years, the tie line we sold had been wrapped on cardboard spools. I have used this product a lot myself over the years, and it seemed like before the tie line was gone that the spool had ripped, collapsed, or completely disintegrated through rough handling and packing into road cases and tool boxes.

tielinesmallerplasticspool.gif

This new tie line supplier had spooled their product on a heavy-duty plastic spool and it works much, much better. The spool can stand up to rough handling, sweaty palms and a little rain on an outdoor event site. The product is the same but it is now offered in a much better package.

This new vendor is also supplying us with new smaller 300 foot spools, so now you can buy a spool that will fit in your tool box or under the seat of your truck. No need to lug around a lifetime supply if you only need a small amount.

If you need tie line, but aren’t sure whether to buy the glazed or unglazed version, here’s a little info that might help. If you intend to tie and untie the knots over and over againg (say, for cable ties) use unglazed. It does not hold a knot as tightly. If your use is for something more permanent (e.g. tying a drape onto a truss or batten) use glazed. Knots tied with glazed time line remain tightly bound over a long period of time.

I never cease to be amazed at how a simple change in packaging can dramatically change the way I look at a product.

A Round Peg In A Square Hole

Recent responses to an older blog posting about using XLR connectors on speaker cables caught me by surprise. It  got me  thinking about how ongoing evolution in this connector system has allowed it to stay relevant through generation after generation of audio development.

The XLR connector was first developed by James Cannon at ITT and was introduced to the audio market in 1958.  Amazingly, through all the changes in connector standards and component wiring, the XLR is still the audio standard for microphone and patch cables.

One reason for its long life is that the basics of the design, much like good computer software design, have moved into the public domain.  Anyone who has a better idea can bring their own version of the XLR connector to market.

A simple innovation developed by the Switchcraft company is an example of this design concept.

Cannon’s design for the XLR was for a round connector-a good idea since it fit well to a round cable and allowed the cable to be dragged along the floor without catching and tangling.  Cannon’s concept called for both round body connectors on the cable and a round body “chassis mount” connector-the mating female connector found on the equipment or multicable box that the cable connector mated with.

A simple innovation by Switchcraft-changing the body shape of the panel mount connector from round to rectangular-meant that more connectors could be mounted side-by-side in a confined space since they could now fit edge to edge.  You can see the value of that design change today by comparing a contemporary audio mixer to one built in the 1960’s or ’70’s.

XLR_SQUARE
XLR_ROUND

Many minds contributing to the evolution of the XLR connector means that it will remain the audio industry standard for many years to come.

Pinouts App-Don’t Head To Work Without It!

Audio and video pros who have  all sorts of random “how to wire it” data rolling around in their heads and on countless scraps of paper can now turn the task over to their smart phone. No need to even pretend that you remember how to wire all the cables in their work boxes.

This free app (available both for iPhone and android devices) provides diagrams for all the popular audio and video connectors that you might expect to encounter during a day at work.

In addition to common connectors like XLR3 and Speakon, it also includes data connectors, Socapex multicables, HDMI and networking, all diagrammed in an easy to read format.

Just enter “pinouts” in your apps search field. It’s also available on the desktop. Just take a look at allpinouts.org.

How The FedEx/Amazon Split Might Impact Gaffers Tape Prices

We were surprised to find out that Fedex and Amazon were ending their relationship and that Fedex would no longer be delivering packages for the retail giant.

Fedex will still use UPS and USPS, but, more and more, they will depend on their own fleet of delivery vehicles for Amazon deliveries.

Since non-Amazon sellers of expendables like gaffers tape will have one fewer option for getting orders to their customers, UPS has less motivation to hold down prices in order to compete with for businesses who ship with UPS.

We know that what our customers really care about is the “delivered” price, and that price is bound to rise, since UPS knows that, in most cases, tape purchased from non-Amazon vendors will be less expensive even if UPS raises the shipping cost.

Your Local High School Just Might Be The Future Of The Arts

We enjoy working with our local schools and are particularly proud to be involved with the arts curriculum at Northwood High School, the school my children attended.  They are finishing up a series of special events this month and we applaud them for their hard work.

Periodically, I have pointed out the phenomenon I call the “graying” of the concert production industry.  Lots of hands-on techs who got their start in sound and lighting began their careers in the 1970’s and ’80’s and are now looking at retirement or career changes.  Unfortunately, there are not a lot of kids ready to take their places.

If you read the trade journals that cover the concert production industry,  you know that a very high percentage of the articles feature technicians in their 50’s or even 60’s.

My work at Northwood High confirms this trend.  Northwood has a newly renovated auditorium with state of the art sound and lighting systems.  Twenty years ago, there would have been students crawling all over each other to get a chance to learn to operate this equipment.

Not today. Northwood has hundreds of kids involved in band, dance and drama but almost no students who want to work backstage or in the production booth.  They simply don’t see it as a college or career track.

 

If you have technical skills and are making a career change, give some thought to sharing all you’ve learned with your local high school arts program.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

 

No Eye Contact Means No Promotion-At Least Around Here

Reading GlassesI get to work with a lot of young people, and it makes my days much more enjoyable.  Between my office andworking as a volunteer at the local high school and as an usher at  my church, I am exposed to lots of great kids.

However, one thing that I have noticed that is a real problem is the difficulty they all seem to have with eye contact.  If  there is any sort of a screen present (computer, tablet, smart phone, laptop, whatever) they almost always prefer to watch the screen rather than to look at me.

While I’m the first to admit that I’m not much to look at, I don’t think that these young people realize the potential cost of failing to look at the person who is speaking to them.  If I have a promotion or pay raise, a better assignment, or a little bit of useful knowledge to pass along,  they are much less likely to get their hands on it if they can’t look me in the eye.

Regardless of how much time they spend in some sort of virtual world, the young person who takes the time to  understand the power of looking at someone when they are speaking to them has a very useful skill and, potentially, a strong competitive advantage.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Across The Pond, It’s “Gaffa” Tape

Pro Gaffer Gaffers Tape From TheTapeworks.comGaffers tape is known and used world wide when hands on showbiz techs need a strong tape with an adhesive that comes up clean.  There is no substitute.

However, there does appear to be a substitute name.  The British (some Americans, too) call this product “gaffa’ tape.

Regardless of the actual spelling of the name, the root comes from a British slang term for grandfather.  The term came into use in the early days of film when the crew that handled heavy lighting and electrical equipment came to be known as gaffers .

Click here to learn the whole story.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

In ear monitors-TheTapeworks.comA friend in the pro audio business that I had not heard from in a while called last week.  He wanted to order batteries,  and we spent a few minutes talking about how things were going with his shop.  During  the conversation, he shared something with me that reminded me why I started working as a sound person over 30 years ago.

We were talking about in-ear-monitors, those little ear pieces that you see lots of performers wearing.  They have replaced the bulky and loud floor monitors that have been in use for many years to help musicians hear themselves and each other.  Floor monitors are seen less and less

My friend was ordering batteries for his company’s in ear monitoring systems (iem’s).  I told him that I was surprised that they owned any, since I had been under the impression that most musicians carried their own systems.

He shared with me that  performers still get their own custom molded ear pieces, but that fewer and fewer of them were carrying complete systems.  Instead, they were choosing to have the sound companies provide most of the hardware.

One of the reasons that pro audio has become such a big business is because musicians were simply never very good at dealing with the technical side of the performance.  They have a completely different set of skills.

I migrated from performing to being a sound person because I was the only one in the band who was interested in setting up speaker arrays, wiring stages and driving trucks. Being “first in and last out” is not  high on the list of most performers priorities.

This attitude seemed to have extended itself into the area of  personal in ear monitoring.  My friend shared with me how often musicians were showing up with broken monitoring equipment, mismatched components and systems that they did not understand how to operate.  It finally dawned on him that the only way to solve the problem was to invest on some systems himself and make them available to touring performers.

Problem solved and a new revenue stream created.

As long as concert performers require complicated technical systems to communicate with their audiences, the place of the pro audio company is safe.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517