BE’s Roark Sees ‘Great Synergies’ in Partnership With Larcan
When a radio broadcast equipment maker and TV broadcast equipment manufacturer cross the aisle, shake hands and agree to work together, it’s not quite the same earth-shattering event as when Democratic and Republican senators do it — but it’s still enough to make you stop and look.
Radio World caught up with BE President and CEO Joseph Roark for more on the new partnership between his more than 50-year-old company, which makes radio broadcast products for AM, FM and HD, and Larcan, which concentrates on analog, digital and mobile television transmitters.
Why are these two companies a good fit?
We’ve done business together for many years on many projects, but it was ad-hoc. No formal structure. With the new ownership of Larcan (headed by CEO Steven Bell), we realized the strategic benefit of going against some companies like Harris, who offer both (television and radio) products.
What does the partnership allow you to do that you couldn’t do before?
Dealing with foreign governments, it’s advantageous to offer both radio and TV. The benefit we derive is that we have a good partner that is a leader in low-power television transmitter projects and they have an opportunity to evolve in distribution. We’re in over 130 countries over the world and Larcan is (in) less than 20% of that. [We’re] taking their product into a lot of markets where we’ve been.
And low-power television is very common throughout the world. Larcan, being what we believe to be the leader in that market, represents a significant opportunity to take that forward. The global market is definitely moving toward a TV model. One of the advantages [of TV] over radio is you see the difference.
How would you describe the broadcast transmission marketplace these days?
The market in general, speaking domestically first, has been a challenging market for all broadcasters … The challenge we’ve seen in radio is the broadcaster has been more involved in acquiring other assets than they have been in maintaining and upgrading systems and people. So they just cut, cut, cut and stop buying equipment.
What about internationally?
We’ve seen slow down in all of the Europe — the debt in Greece and Spain. In Middle East and African countries, all these people get their money from European banks. And so when the banking system in Europe has these challenges, these places are challenged as well.
In what sector(s) is your company seeing growth, if any?
All across Asia, as you can imagine. HD television is beginning to happen in places in Europe. Digital is going to continue around the world.
Do you consider radio and television to be in competition with one another?
From a manufacturer’s perspective, we don’t see them as competition at all. From a broadcaster’s perspective, although they’re competing for the same advertising dollars, the materials you use are well over 95% the same. There are great synergies and we’re working with Larcan in terms of sourcing materials, negotiating freight, shipping containers.
What else should radio engineers and managers know about the radio transmission business right now?
We’re not going to mislead anyone, and anyone who says otherwise is trying to mislead the market: The markets are down globally. However, that being said, we’re still very bullish in the category. There’s still demand; it’s just demand that can’t move forward for financial reasons.