Tom Martin has made a career out of making other people look
His Norwood company, Cramer Productions, adds state-of-the-art
styling and pop to its clients' corporate videos, live events,
Internet sites, print and new-media marketing efforts.
Lately, though, the spotlight has been on Cramer and, when he
can't duck out of the way, Martin himself.
Last week, the 62-year-old Cambridge native collected an award
for entrepreneurial success from the U.S. Small Business
Administration and was named a finalist for the annual Ernst &
Young New England Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Not bad for a guy who is closer to his roots as a certified
public accountant than he is to being a new-media whiz.
``I keep my eye on opportunities and the balance sheet,'' says
Martin. ``When it comes to the product, I'm a good critic but a
Martin got his entrepreneurial opening in 1979 when he bought a
small video production equipment business from Cramer Electronics, a
company where he had risen from CPA to Northeast sales manager in
``Cramer was being sold to Arrow Electronics, which didn't want
to be in the video business, but I did,'' he says.
Selling equipment under the Cramer name, Martin quickly realized
that he could reach a wider customer base by producing corporate
Producing videos led to producing the events they were shown at,
as well as creating all of the sets and support materials for them.
``Our timing was perfect,'' Martin says. ``It was a struggle from
about 1985 to the early '90s, but we survived because I understood a
balance sheet and could talk the same language as the money people
who invested in us.''
Since 1996, revenue has soared to $28 million last year from $9.4
Despite being involved in new media, Martin resisted the
temptation to grab for the dotcom ring, something he says he's glad
``I was never really tempted. I like the independence and
flexibility of remaining private,'' he says.
Not all of Martin's kudos this year have been business-related.
In February, his hockey jersey was retired to the rafters at
Boston College's Conte Forum, where he was an All-American three
times before going on to represent the U.S. in the 1962 World Ice
Hockey Championship and co-captain the 1964 Olympic hockey team at
Innsbruck, Austria. He also worked as an assistant coach for three
seasons at BC under John ``Snooks'' Kelly.
Martin says he learned key lessons on the ice at BC, the most
important being, ``You can't win them all.''
Lately, though, he's been winning his share.