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A SALES PROFESSIONAL'S RETROSPECTIVE

Author: Clyde Schultz, formerly Vice President Sales and Marketing, Switchcraft, Inc.

Mr. Schultz worked at Switchcraft from 1960 to 1978. After his successful start-up, Cablelink, was purchased by Belden, Mr. Schultz began the Mogami relationship with Marshall in Los Angeles. He has retired in Northern California wine country and recently celebrated his 83rd birthday.


Visualize the year 1945. Not born yet? Then sit back and visit with me the year that saw millions of soldiers returning form Europe and the Pacific. The military, soldiers, sailors and Marines used the latest electronic equipment in the war effort.

Combine this with thousands of men and women that learned to assemble and test the latest electronic technology while building airplanes, tanks, transmitters and warships.

Many of these WWII heroes worked on radar.  The first time in war the military technicians worked on radar-coverage indicators and distribution switchboards. Many of the new electronic advancements used the old Signal Corp phone plugs (with old Mil Nos. like PJ-309). The phone jacks and plugs came out of the telephone industry originally manufactured by Western Electronic. The new electronic equipment actually used the old RCA phono jacks and plugs.

In the late 1940's the sale of Utah Radio changed the entire interconnect industry. Utah was one of the largest connector and instrument manufacturers in America. It was sold to a group of investors who then sold off individual product lines. Many of the instrument product lines were sold to eastern companies. Long Island manufactures literally exploded in an array of test equipment. Most of their product lines were for servicing the booming television market.  Connector companies like Cannon grew as a result of this market

The plug and jack product lines were sold to Switchcraft and Trimm. Switchcraft purchased the commercial plugs and jacks as well as some of the Mil plugs. Trimm purchased Mil plugs, long frame jacks and patchcords.

The television test market continued to grow. At every street corner there seemed to be a TV service dealer usually using a B&K oscilloscope and tube tester. Every manufacturer of a black and white TV was an opportunity for test equipment, wire and connector sales. The best-known wire and cable manufactures at the time were Alpha and Belden. Their growth was due to their penetration into the electronic distributor market.

When did the electronic market slow down? Hold on to your hat, it was to grow for over next thirty years. While sales of black and white TVs continued to grow, wire recorders (a copy of a German model) found a niche market. But the reel-to-reel tape recorders, growing faster than FM radios and portable radios, put the wire recorders in the history book. Some of the leaders in the consumer market were Bell & Howell and Revere. Ampex and Magnavox were the leaders in professional and broadcast recorders. Police and detective programs on television used the Bell & Howell tape recorder. It was small and easy to use by the actors.

Virtually all manufacturers of wire, cable and interconnect components benefitted from the introduction and growth of these new products. Switchcraft redesigned and retooled phone jacks and plugs to meet the growing demand. More microphone manufacturers entered the market.

Electro-Voice and Turner joined Shure Bros. Cannon designed and tooled a new audio connector known as the XL line. The XL connector became the standard for microphones.

In the late 1950's, Admiral sued RCA regarding technologies and patents for a color TV.  Admiral won, and settled for color TV chassis instead of cash. Over-night Admiral became number one in the TV market for black and white and soon, color televisions, too.

While this was going on a new electronic baby started to grow. It was the component Hi Fi market. All of a sudden people demanded true high fidelity sound even down to 16cps. Large bass reflex speakers in 4-foot high cabinets.  This was used to increase the over-all radiation of the frequency spectrum of the speakers. Some put a large bag of sand in the bottom of the cabinet. This was to hold down the cabinet when the speakers reproduced 16cps.

Most Hi Fi manufacturers of amplifiers and tuners were based in Long Island, NY. Fisher was the best known and led the market in amplifiers, FM tuners, or combinations. The president was Avery Fisher. I am sure many people over 50 know of Avery, if not for his company but for his contributions to the Democratic Party or for the Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Other leaders during this time were H. H. Scott and Harmon Kardon. Garrard of England dominated the record changer market.

Shure became the leader in tone arms and designed and manufactured the first magnetic cartridge: a moving needle cartridge. Not just the tip moved but also the shaft moved within a coil.

The music market grew on many levels. Professional, amateur, schools, universities, market, and broadcast. I was at McCormick Place, the new trade show hall of Chicago in the late 1960's. I went there to assist, if needed, Purdue University as they were installing a new sound system for the 700-seat theater. When finished every seat in the auditorium could hear the announcers on the stage. That was the first new auditorium that had no "blind" spots.

During the tremendous growth of the sound market Cannon started firing their sales representatives and installing factory sales people. For companies like Switchcraft, the opportunity to penetrate the audio connector market was finally open. Switchcraft designed a complete audio connector line and called it QG for "quick ground." The design solved the grounding problem of the Cannon product. Three years later the Switchcraft QG line was number one.

I had to forecast sales by product line and what new products we needed to continue growth. Some of the products that we introduced were coax connectors, and miniaturize telephone jack panels. We became an authorized supplier on Western Electric telephone products.

We opened a plant in Paxton, IL to manufacture Western Electric products. Their manufacture engineering personnel assisted us at every step in the manufacturing process.

And how could anyone forget the three guys at Bell Telephone labs in Ohio who invented the transistor? It was a product that changed all the old products and eliminated many, while opening the door for a world of new products.

Switchcraft continued to design and tool specialty audio connectors, such as a special right angle unit for electronic cash registers. We also designed a special connector insert for Electro-Voice microphones. We always enjoyed driving up to Buchanan, Michigan.

Why? Well, there was a really great restaurant on the border of Indiana-Michigan. The VP of Engineering and VP of Sales would meet us there for a liquid lunch.  In addition, E-V was a great customer that was pushing Shure Bros. for the number one microphone manufacturer.

Another local customer was Bell & Howell for cable assemblies, connectors and switches. Other Chicagoland customers were Revere for cables and Beltone for molded cable assemblies and phone plugs and jacks. Of course, we cannot forget Shure Bros. for just about everything we manufactured in connectors and cable assemblies.

From Chicago we would travel a straight line to the Paxton Switchcraft plant, to Peavey and finally General Telephone. One of the sales calls I made to Peavey was long remembered at Switchcraft. During a visit I asked Peavey if there was another connector we could supply. I knew what it was and hoped Hartley Peavey would mention the part. He did!

I believe that we could save you money and back-up your inventory by stocking the part at our plant, I said.

Do you currently make this connector?, asked Peavey.

No, but we have most of the tooling to make it and of course we already have the correct insert, I replied.

How much will your connector cost? Even back then, Peavey was cost conscious.

Thanks to my rep I already knew what Peavey was paying. I simply quoted a price 10 cent less.

How long would your tooling take?

About two months, maybe a little longer. I will keep Peavey purchasing informed how the tooling is coming along. Once complete, we will send the first samples to you for approval, I responded.

Okay - it looks good. What about tooling cost?

Switchcraft will take care of that. All I need is a PO for 10,000 connectors to get started.

The PO was placed on the spot. With the order in hand we were on our way to make our final sales call. However, on the way to General Telephone in Meridan, Mississippi, we stopped in Jackson at the famous backgammon bar. It was tournament time. There is nothing better than a well planned sales trip! 

In closing, I wish everyone to have as much fun as I did.




April 2012




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