SVG Sit-Down: Nemal CEO Nemser on Bolstering Broadcast Infrastructure in the U.S., Brazil
The past year has been a busy one for Nemal Electronics, with no signs of slowing down. The Miami-based cabling manufacturer has had a hand in several notable network refreshes, including NBC, ABC, CNN, Univision, Telemundo, and many more.
At NBC’s 30 Rock headquarters in New York City, Nemal incorporated the SMPTE interface into the network’s central fiber core and provided custom cabling and panels to allow NBC to use its existing fiber infrastructure to transport HD signals throughout the facility. To support the Today show, Nemal also installed custom SMPTE cabling manufactured to withstand constant coiling and uncoiling, as well as the range of weather conditions on the plaza. Meanwhile, Nemal has been quite active in the sports-venue space, providing cabling for hometown teams — and regular customers — Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat.
With offices in São Paolo, Brazil, Nemal is quite active in Latin America, including a recent installation at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, and is fully prepared to help television networks in Rio boost their fiber infrastructure prior to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
SVG sat down with Nemal CEO Ben Nemser to discuss his company’s latest success at 30 Rock, how the company is positioned to support the burgeoning Brazilian sports-broadcasting market, and what lies ahead.
Nemal has had quite a few recent successes at the major networks. What is it about the NBC project that particularly stands out to you?
I think the NBC project was definitely challenging, and a part of it was because we had to design around an existing system. Installing these products in 30 Rock around existing cables [and] around a schedule that basically changes from moment to moment was really a difficult situation. We would have guys up there, and we would have certain timeframes to work on things — because they’re live and you can’t just go into areas when people are in the middle of producing live television — but then our guys would be there, and, in the middle of the installation, somebody would say, “Wait a second, we’ve got a breaking-news story. You need to stop and come back at 3 a.m.” So we wound up working crazy hours for close to two weeks, different hours every day, … but the final result was that we did a test of every one of the 150 or 160 points that we terminated and every single one was perfect. That was very gratifying; with all of these difficulties, we were still able to go into a rather old facility that is full of hundreds of generations of cabling, and we were able to put in something that is state-of-the-art 4K/8K and make it work.
The company has also been quite active in the sports-venue space. What makes Nemal gear conducive to that type of environment?
What I think makes us stand out is that, being the manufacturer of the whole product [and] vertically integrated from start to finish (other than a few of the components), we’re able to design and adapt the product to suit particular environments. In other words, if you’re going to install a cable in North Dakota, where it’s going to be 40 below zero, the cable needs to have perhaps some different properties than if you install it in Miami or Rio de Janeiro, where it gets to be 110 and where there are more issues with humidity. When you have cables for sporting facilities that are going to be for a permanent installation and not move, those need to have different properties or characteristics than something that’s going to go back and forth on the field and get run over and walked over with spikes and so forth.
By manufacturing the products from scratch, we’re able to control all these variables, and we’re able to meet the needs of customers. We offer a range of products for specific uses within sports, and, again, the fixed-installation cable may need a certain UL rating, so we can modify our cables and make them perfect for the customer, plus have them UL-approved.
One great example I love to use is we make cables for golf [tournaments], and the customer wanted them in green so they would blend in with the grass. If you go to a typical cable manufacturer and you say [that you] want an audio cable for your microphones in green, they’ll say sure, we’ll do it for 20,000 or 30,000 ft. and we’ll have it for you in eight weeks. We’ll do 1,000 ft., and we’ll do it in two weeks. Being a niche manufacturer that focuses on sports broadcasting, we’re very attuned to the needs of our clients. We’re very attuned to short lead times and custom products and weird things, which are fun and a challenge to us.
Looking forward to the major sports events of 2016, Nemal already has a substantial presence in Brazil. What steps are you taking to help prepare the country for the Rio Olympic Games?
We have been actually in Brazil for 20 years as a fully registered and incorporated Brazilian company with full engineering capabilities, warehousing design, and production capabilities. We stock a large selection of material used in sports broadcasting in Brazil, and we also have a very active schedule of visiting sports facilities throughout the whole country. In Brazil, the infrastructure is sorely lacking, and one of the reasons is that the ownership structure is very different from what it is in the United States. Here, you have teams that own stadiums, and they’re for-profit teams [with] government subsidies and bonds, whereas, in Brazil, some of them are not even for profit and they don’t really have much of an incentive to put in an infrastructure.
That’s finally starting to change. We’re going into some of these stadiums that have been around for 30-40 years and have almost no cabling in them and putting in cabling from scratch. We’re doing state-of-the-art fiber, but also, in Brazil, they’re still using a lot of the older-type cables, like triax for video. So we’ll typically put in triax installation along with a fiber installation.
We’ve already started work on some of the facilities for some of our customers. Those are not strictly Olympic facilities, but they’re facilities that Rede Globo, for example, is building to be ready for the Olympics. Rede Globo is our biggest client in Brazil — they’re the biggest network in Brazil — and we’ve had the great fortune of working with Globo and a lot of their engineers since we’ve been there. I made my first visit to Globo over 20 years ago, and we’re working with them, currently on their Olympics projects.
What would you most like people to know about Nemal?
We’re a company that doesn’t sell a box of something: order a box of this and ship it out and goodbye. We’re a company that offers more solutions than products, and we can design and build to make those solutions into realities. The expertise that we have, the people who have been in our company — our main people — have been with us for as much as 30 years, pretty much since I started the company. This is what we live and breathe every day. When you’re calling us, you’re calling a company that not only has the experience but understands what you’re doing, and, if the customer will take the time to explain to us what they’re trying to achieve, chances are, we’re going to be able to offer them the best solution on the market.