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Wheatstone Plans PR&E’s Future

New consoles and interface cards are in the works

Wheatstone plans to continue to make and market the PR&E brand it has acquired; and soon it will introduce new products under that banner, including interface cards to help users of existing PR&E consoles connect to Wheatstone surfaces and networking systems.

President/CEO Gary Snow said Wheatstone’s acquisition of the assets of Pacific Research & Engineering from GatesAir, which we reported last week, had been in the works since last summer, though the actual negotiations were relatively brief. Snow worked out the deal with Rich Redmond, chief product officer for GatesAir.

PR&E was based at facilities in Illinois and Ohio; Wheatstone is moving the assets to its headquarters in New Bern, N.C., this week. Snow said the purchase means “we can bring the manufacturing and the QC under one roof, which allows us to control our quality, our delivery … and to be more responsive to input from the industry.” He said current outstanding orders will be filled by Wheatstone. “We provided space and accommodation necessary to begin manufacturing immediately.”

Snow said GatesAir was “keenly concerned” that its PR&E customers continue to receive good support after the acquisition. There are some 3,500 PR&E boards installed, he said, including at a number of notable large talk-format radio stations.

Looking ahead, PR&E will be “a standalone product line that’s going to feel the love. Consoles is what we do.” This includes plans for new consoles eventually.

In the shorter term, he noted that Pacific Research consoles are standalone products that can be fitted with a network interface card. “We will be introducing interface cards that will go in in lieu of the current product, and make the consoles WheatNet-IP and AES67-compatible.” This will allow stations who wish to do so to network one studio at a time and “incrementally gain the benefits of a totally flexible IP system.”

Snow said he expects that at least some GatesAir employees will make the move to Wheatstone though details were not set as of Friday. “We have an agreement with Gates that we’re entitled to talk to anyone who has been involved with that product line.” Also to be finalized are the details of PR&E dealer distribution.

“We approach it with a great deal of enthusiasm,” he said of the deal.

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