If there something to be said about staying power in any industry, Draper's 115-year run really could speak for itself. However, it seems that the screen, shading, research, and custom projector/flatscreen lift manufacturing trailblazers are ready to make some noise for themselves, offering a rebrand and a host of new solutions at CEDIA.
But first, a bit of history.
Located in Spiceland Indiana - a short ride from CEDIA's new global HQ - Draper is perhaps one of the oldest A/V businesses in the industry. Founded in 1902 by Luther O. Draper who was later joined by his son-in-law Elmer Pidgeon, they began producing shading solutions for schools, but only entering the A/V industry after capturing a patent for classroom projection screens in 1957.
This sparked the largest vertical for Draper, creating a host of projection screen solutions.
They also added other commodities such as gymnasium equipment and large format printing solutions and have never laid off any of their 600-plus employees in the entire century-plus run. Draper is managed by a fourth-generation member of the original Pidgeon family, sold in over 100 countries, has two Swedish counterparts (Smart Media Solutions and Evoko), and almost all of the manufacturing is done in-house including assembly, packaging, and testing.
Fast forward to 2017; Draper decided to finally bring all their success to the mainstream and show off what a century- and then some - of success looks like, starting with their latest showings at CEDIA but more importantly, a rebrand.
"It’s fun to tell the story. Not very many companies can say 'Hey, we’ve been in business for 115 years and last year was our best year ever,' said Amy Madden, Residential Market Manager for Draper. "It allowed us to talk about the synergy between our various business units, especially window shades and projection screens. It brought energy to the show for us."
"Now we just need our customers to realize that Draper’s been manufacturing shades for those 115 years and aren’t one of the “jump-on-the-bandwagon” suppliers in the marketplace," she added. "CEDIA gave us a platform to do just that.”
On the hardware side, Draper's FlexShade Recharge stole the show. With a storied history in shading solutions, it's not exactly new territory, but the approach is refreshing to the market. In a nutshell, the Recharge offers a quiet, battery-operated solution available up to 12-feet high by 12-feet wide. The battery can be charged from a 110V outlet or solar panel, is quick to install, plays nice with most smart home solutions, and is aggressively priced.
Also on display was the TecVision's CS1200X ALR. TecVision is Draper's moniker for the R&D team that spends countless hours engineering the most capable screens in the industry. Foundationally, every TecVision screen is optimized to reject ambient light, optimize off-axis performance, and is ISF Certified for optical color accuracy and fidelity by the Imaging Science Foundation a claim, according to Draper, that no other line of viewing surfaces in the AV industry can make.
The rebrand is aggressive and well timed. The market for a manufacturer can seem saturated if you don't have a brand that can make a lot of noise and the products to back it up. Draper's new mantra and commitment to customers, dealers, and premium products really gives them all the tools they need to last another century.