Visiting Cambo Headquarters
When I decide on products to promote and sell through Capture Integration there are many factors that influence my decisions. Of course the quality of the product is the number one factor, this goes without saying. However, there are so many more factors that are important to me as a business owner. The second factor would be whether the product has become a commodity in the US. You know, the one that you can purchase at your local Best Buy down the street or that you can buy at the big box movers in NY tax free (although this is changing). Selling these products doesn’t make good business sense and has been the primary cause of many of my fellow photographic sales business owners to close their doors indefinitely. Those two aspects of the product are the logical factors that I consider, however, there are so many more that are are just as important to me and my business.
A huge factor for me, is the way a manufacturer stands behind their product. Are they “customer centric” like we are? Do they quickly reply to concerns? Can you get them on the phone when you need them or are you stuck in an e-mail nightmare? Do they make sound decisions and work with their customers? Also, are they pushing the envelope of technology and still innovating? Are there exciting products in the works each year that make me want to pick their product up and go out and shoot? And finally, are they honest? Can you have a trustworthy relationship with integrity as its backbone. I wish that I could say that all companies had all these qualities but unfortunately many do not.
There are a few companies that I will not mention here that fail at too many of these areas and we just won’t support them even though they make quality products. Why? Because my company’s reputation is on the line and not just theirs. When a problem arises, a quick team approach to solving the issue is what is best for the customer. And if the manufacturer fails, then we fail. And this is exactly why I love Cambo. Their partnership, their products, and their core philosophy make Capture Integration a better partner to our customers. They are easily one of my favorite companies in the industry and this is why I decided to visit them on my last trip to the Netherlands.
Their headquarters is in the quaint town of Kampen, about 90 minutes NE of Amsterdam. The town of Kampen truly has the old world charm with only about 53k inhabitants. Walking the cobblestone streets, seeing the ancient city walls, or just sitting on the river and watching the ships go buy was a delight. Traveling to the city itself would be reason to go to this area even without visiting Cambo. I truly did not want to leave. However, I came there for another reason. And that was to visit the factory itself and meet some of the people that I had only spoken on the phone with for so many years. But I also wanted to see the process of machining the products themselves and get more insight to the company philosophy.
If you are not familiar with them, Cambo Fotografische Industrie BV, is an employee owned manufacturer of various photographic products that are imported to the US through CamboUSA. They are well known for their large format cameras of the past and present, but they also manufacture extremely high quality studio stands, modern technical cameras, video support systems, reproductions systems, and even the branded RedWing light booms. Koop van Benthem and Rene Rook have been my primary contacts over the years. I could tell you their job titles but it really does not do them justice because they do so much more than what a simple title explains. These two are integral to the companies success and our success with their products. It was wonderful to spend time with them and see where they call home. I asked them for a picture for this blog and they were a little shy, but I was lucky enough to get the picture below.
While it might sound silly to the non gear heads out there, I loved getting a tour of the facility where my cameras are made. I loved seeing the stock of cameras, parts, accessories, wing nuts, etc, that go into its production. Just simple stacks of products ready for shipment just made me happy. Clearly I truly am the gear head that my wife says I am all the time.
But to take that to the next level, I truly did not understand the level of technology that Cambo has at their finger tips. Cambo not only designs and manufacturers their own product lines but they also OEM for companies in the Aerospace, Reproduction, Video, Satellite, Broadcast, and other industries. They have a full staff of engineers for 3d-CAD design and development and manufacture with their in house CNC machining.
With the incredible success of their “rethinking” of the modern digital view camera called the Cambo Actus, they have single handedly kept sales of view cameras alive and well in our industry. I was very fortunate to get a personal instruction of just how much engineering and work that goes into ever single Actus that leaves their factory.
What many customers might not know is that I am a huge fan of studio stands. I just think that it is a product that is as important in the modern studio as the camera or lighting itself. Personally I want the support product holding the most expensive part of my studio, the digital camera, to be strong and sturdy. When I hear of people kicking over a tripod in the studio thereby dropping the camera I always scoff…. tripods are for location, not my Studio! So it was natural to want to see how and who made one of my favorite pieces of gear.
Overall, my trip to Kampen and to Cambo was a highlight of my trip to Europe. It was wonderful to meet the warm and friendly staff at Cambo and get to understand their commitment to manufacturing quality products. Kampen is a delightful and historic little community that made me want to stay for much longer. And seeing good people like Koop and Rene in their environment was priceless.
If any of my customers want to make this journey, I highly recommend it and there is an opportunity. CamboUSA is hosting its own trip to the factory here: There is one spot left but there isn’t a lot of time left. I hope you enjoyed my small post about such a great company. Please reach out to us if we can answer any questions.