'A real validation of what we’re doing': Ross Video tops 1,000 employees with latest acquisition

David Ross
Ross Video CEO David Ross says his company is well on its way to hitting 1,100 employees soon after recently passing the 1,000 mark. File photo

As his company was getting close to welcoming employee No. 1,000 into the fold recently, David Ross was racking his brain over how to celebrate such a monumental achievement.

In the most Ross-like fashion possible, as it turns out ​– with an acquisition.

Ross’s firm, Ottawa-based video-production powerhouse Ross Video, was sitting at a headcount of 970 when it put the finishing touches on the 17th acquisition in its history. 

As it so happens, Ross’s newest purchase, a company out of Miami called Primestream, had ​– you guessed it ​– 30 employees.  

“It turned out to be a fantastic and really fun way of bringing the new team on and saying, ‘You are all honorary employee 1000s,’” says Ross with a chuckle. 

It was a scene right out of a Hollywood script. But that’s probably fitting considering that Ross Video makes much of its money helping customers bring entertainment to the masses.

"There is a significance to getting to a thousand (employees). You feel like you’re doing something that customers really believe in."

“I actually feel like I’m floating around the house a little bit these past few days,” says Ross, whose father John founded Ross Video in the early 1970s and turned leadership over to his son in 2006. 

“When I joined the company 30 years ago, (it) was like 25 employees. There is a significance to getting to a thousand. You feel like you’re doing something that customers really believe in. It’s a real validation of what we’re doing.”

From its humble origins in his dad’s Montreal home nearly 50 years ago, Ross Video has become known worldwide for its state-of-the-art video hardware and software. 

Under David Ross’s guidance, the company has grown exponentially through a savvy mixture of M&A deals and an unwavering commitment to R&D. The result is a constantly evolving roster of cutting-edge products that are now must-have technology for customers from Kazakhstan to New Zealand.

As is typical for the privately held firm, Ross Video wouldn’t reveal any financial details about its latest transaction. But Ross says it’s among the biggest buys the company has ever made, both in terms of monetary value and number of employees.

Blue-chip client roster

As the CEO describes it, Primestream’s software helps streamline the flow of video content, whether it’s recorded or being streamed live, through every aspect of the production process, from the control room to the editing suite.

The Florida firm is clearly doing something right – its blue-chip client roster includes the likes of Cisco, Disney, the NBA and the NFL.

Although Ross Video already works with many of those organizations, Primestream gives it a level of end-to-end production expertise it never had before.

“There are quite a few companies in our industry that do it, (but) not very many that do it well,” explains Ross with a wide grin.

“It fits hand-in-glove into what we have. This is going to be a lot of fun.”

Revenue-growth streak stretches on

Though it might not be a household name like competitors such as Canon, Panasonic and Sony, Ross Video has become a formidable enough force in its field that even the pandemic couldn’t stop it from extending its streak of consecutive years of revenue growth to 29 last October.

With the economy poised to rebound and another acquisition under his belt, Ross is confident his company is in prime position to keep the impressive run going. 

“My head of sales said he didn’t want to jinx it, but he is projecting a 30th straight year of growth,” he says. “Adding Primestream, it’s almost cheating. It’s going to be a big help.”

Meanwhile, Ross Video continues to grow organically at a head-spinning rate. The company has boosted its headcount by 50 per cent in the past four years and expects to hire at least another 65 people before 2021 is out, which would push it close to the 1,100-person mark.

And of course, the M&A pipeline is showing no signs of slowing down. Ross says he’s got three more potential deals in the works, including one that promises to be “transformative” for the company.

For many CEOs, it’s the tough problems – limited cash flow, a scarcity of talent ​– that keep them up at night. For David Ross, the tossing and turning results from a deep-rooted passion for the business that’s hard to contain.

“I was having a hard time getting to sleep,” he says, “because I’m so excited about some of the things we’re going to do next.”