So many stories… So little time…
If I had a relative who was wanted by the police and if I had a hand in the relative’s capture, I might have written a story about it. However, our recent lunch buddy, Steve Friess, actually lived that experience and wrote about it in such riveting detail that his tale is (in my opinion) a must-read personal story. You can find his story at VegasHappensHere.com and published as the cover story in this week’s Las Vegas Weekly. If I read Friess’s story correctly, much of the action happened just one day before my husband and I had lunch with Friess and his partner Miles Smith. Friess mentioned nothing about his Saturday activities during our Sunday lunch.
Thinking Outside the Box…Oops
I was amused to see that one of M Resort’s attempts to think outside the box has failed. Right next to the IMagine Reward Center where the gifts are dispensed, M had installed a pharmacy. The thought may have been that if a locals casino attracted Vegas valley retirees and if those retirees took pills, maybe they’d save time (and gamble more?) combining two trips in one. But as of April 14, the pharmacy closed its doors. Apparently pills and penny slots are not a good mix.
A Niche Business, Adrienne Electronics Corporation
When I visited the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show a couple weeks ago, I ran into a man named Tracey Ruesch. He is President of Adrienne Electronics Corporation. The company is a “world leader” in adding time codes to videos and/or closed captions before the videos or captions are captured by computer. The time codes allow for synchronization of multiple sources within 1/30th of a second. I sort-of understood the product so hung around a while and learned that the company Ruesch represented was based in Las Vegas. Because “Sin City” is not known for its non-gaming technology companies, I was intrigued and decided to pay Adrienne Electronics a visit.
Ruesch himself was my host. He’s an electrical engineer with an MBA in business and is President of the company. Nonetheless, the day I visited, he was also the company’s receptionist (he answered the phone), shipping department (he called DHL for a pickup) and spokesman (talking to me). And more than that, he’s also a weekend woodworker who built the desktop used in the company’s administrative office.
Though the company is 23 years old and is, indeed, a world leader in its product line, the company has just six employees: Ruesch, Operations Manager Janet Gerow, Assembler/Shipping /Misc. Specialist Roger Artman, Senior Assembler Joan Ruelas, Technician Mel Kemp and Owner/Chief Design Engineer Bruce Waggoner. All of the employees have at least 12 years of service; most, more than 15 years. Gerow and Kemp are original employees when the first Waggoner-designed product was assembled in a basement and then rented quarters in Nevada City, California. The company, Waggoner, Gerow and Kemp moved to Nevada in 1993 to escape the tax-heavy California business climate.
The day I visited, everyone but Ruesch had taken the afternoon off for a variety of personal reasons. In a small company where the term “employee family” really does apply, such afternoons do happen, “but when we have a rush of business everyone pitches in and works whatever hours are required,” Ruesch explained.
Among the things that Adrienne Electronics doesn’t spend money on is marketing. “We have only four product lines, all of them having to do with time codes,” Ruesch explained. “We don’t need a big catalog; we have just a single-sheet flyer. We are also such a specialized company that no one publication targets just our customer base.” But the company does attend the NAB show every year, both to talk about its products to its niche audience and to learn what customers want and need. Adrienne’s customer base includes companies who make computer video servers, the armed forces, TV stations and TV networks and production companies specializing in live video feeds from remote locations.
Ruesch said his company does the majority of its business via email and telephone. “In any year, I bet no more than two customers actually visit our offices in Las Vegas,” he said. Customers hear about Adrienne or find the company on the Internet, call to ask questions, place orders and wait for their shipment.
“About 30 percent of our customers are overseas; the rest domestic,” Ruesch said. Adrienne’s time-code devices, now typically no bigger than a cigarette pack, range in price between $300 and $700. All assembly is done in Las Vegas so that quality control rests in Las Vegas as well; the company offices and manufacturing facilities are smaller than they once were because the products themselves have gotten smaller as well.
Adrienne’s products have been used throughout the U.S. and the world, including adding time codes to video for Dancing with the Stars, NBC’s Olympics and a number of locally-based poker shows. The name, “Adrienne” came from Waggoner’s family “and I think it was selected because it comes at the beginning of the alphabet”, noted Ruesch.
How’s business? “We’re down about 20%,” says the firm’s President, “but I think we’re doing better than most companies. We’re still making money but just not quite as much.”