At the height of the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray war, SCREEN Mag decided to sit down with Erik Gershfeld, manager of Chicago’s iDEA Media, a company that specializes in CD and DVD manufacturing and replication. iDEA Media has been in business for several years now and recently moved into a larger facility. Gershfeld talks about the changes within his company and his thoughts on the high-definition battle.
SCREEN: What year was your company started?
Erik Gershfeld: I started the company in 2002, but I have been in the duplication industry for about nine years.
What motivated you to open?
EG: I had worked in sales at a couple [of] disc duplication companies and was very unimpressed with their day-to-day business practices. I saw a huge opportunity in doing this on my own and doing it right.
What is your first memory of the company and how far have you come from that day?
EG: I used to broker replication from my living room on Western and Foster (in Chicago). I had my colleague, Nik Rodgers, working from my guest room. Ahh, those were the times – artery-clogging lunch from Shelly’s Freeze. Nik and I actually did very well and had a lot of fun. I then started buying equipment with the profits and here we are today.
[The] California plant [that I run] with my partner has 17 injection lines that do anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 DVDs per day per machine. We run full capacity 24/7 – three shifts. I would say that a plant doing 400,000-plus DVDs a day is a pretty far cry from a couple of dorks selling replication from a condo.
iDEA Media has grown considerably in the last two years and is now located in a larger space. What would you say are the key reasons for your quick growth?
EG: We have been able to offer the best price in the U.S for DVD replication since our inception. The customer comes to us for the price, and they end up staying with us for our top-notch service. We typically save customers 10 to 30 percent of what our competition charges. I would buy from me. We also deal with a lot of brokers and resellers, and this is how we do the volume. So, my business model is sell cheap but do a ton of volume.
It was announced recently that Blu-ray technology will likely be the format of choice over HD DVD. How is iDEA Media equipped to handle the change?
EG: The Blu-ray thing actually came as a surprise to me. I thought HD DVD would win because the manufacturing cost is substantially less. We were one of the first to be actively injecting HD DVD in-house. It was inexpensive to get into. Our current machinery was pretty cheaply upgraded to do HD DVD and I thought the manufacturing cost would be the deciding factor in the end, but apparenly that had nothing to do with it.
I am happy to say, though, that we have a Singulus Blu-ray line on the way! It will be in my California plant towards the end of the month, and we should be up and running with it around April 15. So I think we are probably one of the only independent disc manufacturers to have this in-house capability.
How will the replication business be affected by Blu-ray technology?
EG: For me, I think it will open new doors and help to build new relationships. I know our competition will be using me for BD given our competitively priced nature. DVD will still be around for a while. It’s so cheap these days. It’s a perfect platform for marketing pieces, infomercials, and such. The world has a huge need for that. BD is still mainly used for feature film releases. We’ve only done a handful of BD orders so far. When our own line is up and running we’ll be the only domestic resource for 1,000- to 25,000-piece jobs.
Is there something a production company can do to reduce their duplication costs?
EG: A short answer would be stop paying too much at my competitors. Give me a call.
Is iDEA Media able to handle small jobs, or is the company’s focus on large runs? Is there a minimum order?
EG: There is no minimum order. We have a small run/on-demand department that is there specifically to do the small CD and DVD orders. And yes, we duplicate Blu-ray in the small run department as well.
You chose Chicago as a home base. Are there advantages you see from your central U.S. location?
EG: Very much so. We’re open through the entire business day for all time zones, so our customers can call us when they need us. With production facilities in LA, Chicago and New York, we can get product to any part of the country on fairly short notice.
Source: Screen Magazine – ScreenMag.tv