Convergent Design of Colorado Springs helped produce the movie “Captain Phillips” and continues working with Wheel of Fortune, National Geographic productions, NFL programs and far more.
All from its 14,000-square-foot center off Garden of the Gods Road.
Convergent Design manufactures high-tech recording devices for the film and television industries.
“There’s one very important distinction” between Pat Sajak and himself, said President and CEO Mike Schell, laughing. “We are behind the lens, not in front of the lens.”
Convergent Design’s devices resemble a thick iPad Air. They are attached to television and movie filming cameras to record the action, which is memorialized on a card in the device. From there, the card can be removed and inserted into a computer, where editing and formatting can take place.
Think of it, Schell said, as a very expensive video recorder.
The business, owned by the electrical engineer and his wife, Patricia, has been in operation 10 years, and has grown substantially recently. Between 2013 and 2014, the business’ sales grew by four times, from $3 million to $12 million, he said.
“In one year … we were kind of busy,” Schell said. “We don’t think we’ll do that again in 2015, but we will, we think, have significant growth. It’s fun.”
In that same time frame, the company grew from 18 to 32 employees.
There had been five companies on the planet producing these devices by the end of 2013; today there are only two, Convergent Design and a firm in Melbourne, Australia.
Convergent Design’s headquarters has a testing laboratory for 12 engineers, a dust-free manufacturing lab, a shipping area and office space.
Growing at such a fast pace has been a challenge, Schell said. “One of the biggest challenges is hiring people, finding qualified engineers. If we get someone right out of school, we know it’s going to be quite a bit of training before they can actually contribute. If we get somebody that’s experienced, it’s difficult to get someone to move to Colorado Springs. Finding qualified engineers is quite a challenge.”
The technology is ever-changing — “if you don’t constantly innovate the product, you will be out of business before long,” he said. “It moves fast.”
Convergent’s drivers are innovation, quality and reliability, value and customer support. The company ships worldwide. Anywhere there are television productions or people who are making movies, there are customers, he said.
The basic unit sells for $2,295, and other components and software can be added.
“It’s intended for people who want to shoot a video and … sell it to the BBC or National Geographic,” Schell said.
“It’s not a product intended for shooting my son’s birthday party. It’s really a professional product.”