Behind any company that can double its revenues in three years, there is likely to be a clever formula for success. Bill Kelly sums up National Video Center & Recording Studios's strategy in the cable television business this way: "We lucked out," says Kelly, marketing vice-president. "I'd like to say we saw it coming, but I'd be lying."
Luck plays a role, sometimes a crucial one, in any business. But National Video got a double dose by moving into the right place at the right time. In this case, the right place was New York's cavernous former West Side Airline Terminal, where the studio's founders, Irving Kaufman and Hal Lustig, moved their audio and video production company three years ago. The move represented a big change for National Video, not to mention a major risk. Kaufman and Lustig were betting on their ability to bring in a lot more of their bread-and-butter production work for television commercials. What they didn't realize was that the growing number of cablecasters had created an enormous demand for video production facilities -- a demand that National Video in its new facility was well-positioned to fill.
As a result, the studio suddenly became a major production center for cablecasters, providing services to Hearst/ABC, CBS Cable, USA Cable Network, and others. Lately, however, the cable industry's appetite for programming has begun to diminish, and so National Video has shifted its emphasis to a new medium -- stereo television. Kelly says that National is currently the only facility that has the capacity to record on a 24-track Dolby system while taping for television.
That situation is not likely to endure. "It's hard to be an innovator in this business because innovations last about 10 minutes," says Kelly. Then again, maybe they will get lucky.