Ben Franklin


Cinram: Providing Decades of Music and Video from Vinyl to High-Def

In the midst of the high-definition format war, with some studios backing Toshiba’s HD technology and others backing Sony’s Blu-ray, Warner Home Video is one company that has agreed to offer its customers both options. But it’s the flexibility and constant innovation of Warner Home Video’s supplier-Cinram International-that has helped Warner grab the largest high-definition disc market share.


Cinram, one of the oldest music and video recording technology companies in the country, started out with Ben Franklin Technology Partners in 1986. The company has grown from a small family-owned record-pressing business to one of the foremost manufacturers of pre-recorded DVD, CD-audio and CD-ROM in the world.

“We stepped in and said to Warner Home Video, ‘If you need to produce both Sony and Toshiba versions, we’ll support that,’” says John Daly, Vice President of Operations at Cinram International in Olyphant, near Scranton. Daly credits a history of moving seamlessly from one technology to another-plus a strong customer commitment-for making Cinram so successful.

Cinram (formerly Specialty Records) is one of the oldest music and video recording technology companies in the U.S. Since its founding in the 1950s, the company has grown from a small family-owned record-pressing business to one of the world’s manufacturers of pre-recorded DVD, CD-audio and CD-ROM. In fact, some of the first DVDs every molded were made in the Olyphant facility. Today the company’s Olyphant facility produces more than 600,000 CDs and 2,000,000 DVDs every day.

Assistance for a Huge Undertaking

Throughout the past two decades, Cinram has quickly adapted to all major advancements in music and video technology-from vinyl records and cassettes to CDs, DVDs and high-definition discs. “Not many organizations succeed in even one product line, yet we have a consistent history of success in moving from one technology to another,” Daly says. “Right now we are doing CDs, DVDs, two formats of Blu-ray Disc (BD) and two formats of HD DVD, right here in Scranton,” says Daly. “No one else on the planet is doing all that in one building.”

Making the transition each time the entertainment industry changes the format of music and video is a huge undertaking. Thankfully, Cinram got some assistance during one of its major changeovers. In 1986, Ben Franklin invested $247,000 in the company to help it develop what was then the brand-new CD audio technology.

Benefiting from the Partnership

“Ben Franklin also brought in experts in physics, electrical engineering and film technology,” Daly says. “We benefited from a partnership between Ben Franklin, the University of Scranton and Lehigh University to develop that process.” Daly is proud that Cinram has been involved with Ben Franklin Technology Partners for most of that organization’s 25 years.

Daly says the support from BFTP has been a tremendous help. “Ben Franklin staff keep their eyes on new technology and information,” he says. “Knowing we can rely on Ben Franklin has been a real positive to us since 1986. They bring in a broad network of people in the local area to support whatever we are trying to do. Plus, they are very proactive in terms of making northeast Pennsylvania successful for all businesses that establish themselves here, which is great.”

Meeting the Market Demand

“Whatever medium people want to hear recorded music or videos on, we will provide that to our customers,” Daly says. Those customers include Warner Home Video, New Line Home Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Atlantic Records, Warner Brothers Records, Rhino Records and Electric Records, to name a few.

“We are dealing with the major players in both the music and the theatrical entertainment part of the industry, and you don’t hold on to customers like that by accident; you hold on to them because you are excellent at what you do,” Daly says. Cinram has more than simple contracts with their customers. “We partner with them to develop new ideas and processes along the way.”

Benefiting the Local Economy

Cinram is a major employer in the Scranton area. “With over 1,200 full-time employees, we are one of the largest employers in Lackawanna County, so we have given a huge economic boost to the area,” Daly says. “We are also involved in charitable organizations, we allow local universities to come in and tour our operations, and we work with some of the local high schools and the Scranton Chamber of Commerce to educate people about job opportunities when they become available,” he says. In addition, Cinram International does a lot of its buying locally and supports local contractors with its constant upgrades.

With the expansion of high-definition discs and other advancements in music and video technology, Cinram will continue to grow. “Product lines come and go, and we’ll stay on top of them as opportunities present themselves,” Daly says.

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This article was featured in
Keynotes January, 2008
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