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Do You Buy New, Or Used?
I had the pleasure of meeting up again with Barbara Holler at NAB 2013 and chatted with her about her niche business, New Pro Video Systems Inc.
In business since December 1992, she has served the broadcast and professional video industry as an equipment broker specializing in buying and selling used broadcast and professional video equipment nationally and internationally.
One of the few women in the United States in the used video equipment sales business, her NYC firm recently joined forces with EC Professional as an independent Sales Rep.
So Holler has expanded her services, and is now selling new equipment as an Authorized Sony Broadcast & Professional Equipment Reseller—along with all other industry manufactures, including JVC, Panasonic, AJA, Canon, Fujinon, Zeiss and Apple.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Barbara to talk about her business, the industry, and her thoughts on the future of video equipment—old and new.
Andrea Keating: First, tell us about your New Pro Video Systems, and how it has grown in the last two decades.
Barbara Holler: I started out in video equipment repairs, and the business took its own route. It began as one little deal, but when I saw the cost of the repairs had eaten up the profit, it gave me an idea.
I started meeting with the top-notch engineers in the country, and realized they or their clients had equipment to sell.
They referred a lot of people to me, and before long, I was buying and selling used professional equipment from videographers and post-production facilities around the country.
I realized, too, that I had an aptitude for understanding the technical aspects of the video equipment business. I also found that I loved every aspect of the video equipment industry. It wasn’t only about buying a piece of used equipment—before representing it there was much to know—it was about knowing its history, the type of usage it got, and where it had traveled. It is fascinating to me.
Andrea Keating: Your brother was also in the video equipment business, is that right?
Barbara Holler: Yes, he repaired cameras down in Miami, and he passed away. I knew he wanted me to keep his business alive, but I didn’t really know where to start. So I just took a deep breath, walked into his office, and found all of this equipment and an amazing Rolodex.
I was a single parent at the time, and I was in between jobs, so it seemed like a great thing to do. I started making calls, and one thing led to the next. It was a perfect fit for me, because running this business has enabled me to use technical skills, creativity, and also help other small business owners.
Honestly, I just love working with videographers. They are smart and funny. It’s a great group of people.
Andrea Keating: Who are some of your clients?
Barbara Holler: We have clients from Miami to California, all around the country really, as well as all over the world.
Our international work, in fact, started about two years ago when I was invited by the government in Korea to join the equivalent to our NAB, called KOBE.
I was invited to attend their dynamic trade show. Now several Korean firms are our clients. We also sell in other Asian markets, as well as Europe, Canada, England,Mideast and the UK. It’s very exciting.
Andrea Keating: And recently, your company started selling new equipment, too, right?
Barbara Holler: We did, and it has been very exciting. Now I work with another company called EC Professionals. I buy and sell the used equipment with New Pro Video, and I also work in Manhattan selling the new equipment by the major manufacturers.
Andrea Keating: What are some of the big equipment trends that you are tracking?
Barbara Holler: Obviously, the industry has been going through some changes. For a while, manufacturers were coming out with the latest and greatest in cheap and small cameras.
The biggest change in the industry is that the videographer has merged with the cinematographer. Most people are going for that “filmy” feeling, so big cameras and sophisticated lenses are in demand, as are the PL mounts or lenses for the PL mount and DSLR market.
On the reality television front, the HDX900 from Panasonic has been a major player for a while. It was the camera of choice, because at the end of the day there was a tape to give to the client. But that has been changing. There is no longer any tape-based cameras being made that they would find applicable to the reality show. I see and have heard from many that the F800 is a major player for reality shows.
Andrea Keating: What is your forecast about where the industry might be going?
Barbara Holler: I think Sony is going to be back in the ball game.
Panasonic didn’t really come out with anything new recently.
And when it comes to videographers filming reality and production for corporate videos, they want either the larger sensor camera, like the F55 or F5, or the XDCam F800. In fact, they say F5s are the F3 on steroids.
One cameraman whom I work with in South Florida shot about 70 hours of recording on the F55, and sent me an email saying it is everything they said it was going to be. So that’s good feedback.
That kind of feedback, combined with talks I’ve had with the higher-ups at Sony—I see a very serious and strong commitment on its part to gaining more of the market-share in 2013 and beyond.
Andrea Keating: So you think Sony is coming back strong?
Barbara Holler: I think so. In all the years that I have been selling equipment—whenever Sony seemed down for the count, it always did make a comeback.
What I know from running my own company for 20+ years is that every business has its cycles. In the case of Sony, it always comes back strong. Even on the used equipment business, Sony has always been my best seller for broadcast videographers, A/V companies, and both the corporate and post environment as well.
Andrea Keating: What is your favorite prediction for 2013 and beyond?
Barbara Holler: That you’re going to see manufacturers really pushing the 4K on the consumer side with the manufacturing of new TV’s that are 4K. And that you’re going to see everything in sports and corporate video start to go to 4K cameras. They will really start to become mainstream.
Andrea Keating: What is the future of your business?
Barbara Holler: I’ll probably start selling used F55s next year. I sell them new now, so I’m sure we’ll have them to sell used by year’s end.
That is the greatest benefit of what I do. I see the cycles, I listen to my clients tell me what they are doing from all over and continually learn what works and what doesn’t work from various type of videographers— what they love and don’t love about their equipment.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be a trusted ally, and to help them get what they need to grow their own small businesses. I get so many reports of their successes, and that is what inspires me.