You have just been named President/CEO of Rosco Laboratories. How long have you been with the company, and what positions have you held to date?
I joined Rosco in 1992, leaving the world of private equity for the opportunity to work for a company with loads of potential in a highly creative industry. At the time, I didn't know exactly what the director of corporate development would do at Rosco, but I was attracted to the challenge. Over the past 16 years, I have been the chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and now, president and CEO. In that period, I've been lucky enough to learn a great deal about working in an international growth company from all of those around me at Rosco. Many of your US readers will be familiar with the US Rosco “team,” but the fact is that over half of our business today comes from outside of the US and is run by an incredibly bright group of managers. Every person at Rosco adds to its success, and each of them makes working here rewarding.
Does your appointment reflect a changing of the guard? Are “the Stans” getting ready to retire? Is there a new corporate structure?
This appointment represents more of an evolutionary move than a point of radical change. Stan Miller has just celebrated his 50th year at Rosco, and I've only finished 16. I have the luxury of assuming this role with a very active Stan Miller by my side. Neither Stan Miller nor Stan Schwartz has plans to leave the company any time soon, as they both continue to play leadership roles at Rosco — in terms of long-term strategic vision as well as in day-to-day tactical activities. Rosco is in their blood.
We just celebrated a milestone in our growth, and the company is more complex today, but we have a deep management team. I think Stan — and Stan — have positioned the company nicely for continued growth both in terms of new products, new markets, and new channels.
A mainstay of Rosco's business has always been gel. What is the future outlook for this product in general terms?
Gel will play a role in theatrical lighting for years to come. That said, gel has evolved significantly since Rosco was founded in 1910. Over that time period, the substrate has changed, but the effect remains the same. We provide a medium through which light is colored or diffused and projected onto a stage, set, performers, etc. Rosco is about color — or ”colour” — color to evoke an emotion, a mood, a theme. We view our challenge as that of giving the designers the tools they need to practice their craft. Over the foreseeable future, we will provide a complete range of tools for the designer to shape, manipulate, and color light.
Do you have surprises up your sleeve in terms of innovation at Rosco? Future plans for the company?
Stan has recognized that innovation is vital for our survival and growth. I'd like to think that we have been relatively successful at innovating products for our markets. I know we're proud of our four technical awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, our patents, our Emmy, and our many product firsts. We are constantly reinvesting in the business. It's what we do and why we're here. It's the fun part of being in this industry.
What advice would you give young people wanting to get into the business today?
Boy, and I thought I was one of the young people! Not wanting to sound pedantic, I think it comes down to being smart and working hard. Most of the companies in our industry tend to be small and very few have a well-defined career track. As such, it's hard to show young people where they will be as they move up the corporate ladder. Instead, they need to know that capable people are given more responsibility as they prove themselves. There is nothing more rewarding to a manager than to feel good about adding challenges to bright, hardworking, younger employees and watching them grow into the role and exceed your expectations. It happens at Rosco, and I'm sure throughout our industry, both on the production and business sides of our world.
Second, don't be afraid to make a decision. Ask lots of questions, assess the situation, and then decide. Don't expect to bat 1000, but do expect to learn from your mistakes and make better decisions the next time around.
And perhaps most important, be a nice person. That last bit may sound trite in today's world, but as collaboration becomes more important for success — in almost any human activity — it's important that we work and play well with others. Whether you're reading The World is Flat or Evolution for Everyone, it's clear that human growth and success is driven by our ability to interact successfully with each other. Our customers operate on a global stage. Success requires that we do the same.