Graduate’s passion for extreme sports inspires him to develop camera company
A passion for extreme sports inspired an electrical/electronic engineer to end a successful career in industry to set up his own company designing action cameras.
HEDCAMz was established by Carl Long, 40, from his home in Crabtree Green in 2010 when the action camera industry – now worth more than an estimated £2.2 billion – was in its infancy.
Selling gear made by other brands such as GoPro and Sony in order to get the company up and running, Carl quickly turned his attention to developing his own product, launching the first HEDCAMz branded camera in February 2011.
The firm recently more than doubled its turnover by venturing into the drone market when it became the Wales distributor for DJI, the world leader in camera drones.
Now, they’re also on the verge of launching OLFI, a feature rich, low price action camera.
The success of HEDCAMz has seen Wrexham Glyndŵr University graduate Carl realise his lifelong ambition of running his own business – driven 100 per cent by passion rather than the industry he had more than 20 years’ experience in.
“HEDCAMz was born out of the vision I had to mix work and pleasure,” said Carl.
“I was looking to do something for myself career-wise and at the time I was actively involved in sports such as motocross, downhill mountain biking and snowboarding.
“That was also the time when action cameras were just starting to take off and there were few brands around aside from GoPro. All of the cameras were bulky and I wanted to bring a lightweight, low-cost one to the market.
“But it was actually the deal with DJI which provided a massive breakthrough in terms of growth. Since then things have been going well and we’re looking forward to taking HEDCAMz to the next stage in its development.
“I had the opportunity to visit the DJI factory in China last year and I am proud to say that we’re not just a seller of their products – we’re working in partnership with them.”
Carl’s electrical/electronic engineering education and broad industry experience proved invaluable when the company started and he had limited knowledge of how action cameras were put together.
This was combined with business and management knowledge gained from postgraduate study for an MBA at Glyndwr University.
After leaving school he secured an electrical/electronic apprenticeship with Speywood Biopharm in Wrexham (now known as IPSEN), also studying part-time for a HNC at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, then known as the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI).
Positions at BICC and Merlin Systems followed for Carl, who also holds a BEng (Hons) degree in electrical/electronic engineering gained at NEWI, before he became UK General Manager for WITT Gas Techniques Ltd – his final post before starting HEDCAMz.
He now works alongside videographer and marketer Sam Proctor, the company’s only other full-time employee, who he took on through the Jobs Growth Wales scheme in April 2014.
Carl said: “I’d always thought that the business I’d end up starting would be in control equipment, reflecting the career path I’d followed. But I just didn’t have the passion to do it.
“HEDCAMz was driven by passion more than anything else but I don’t think I could have got it off the ground without the knowledge I had gained.
“After a steady start we’re now focused on expanding and I’d really like us to open our own unit in the near future and take on more employees when we’re in a position to do so.”
The company continues to sell products from other manufacturers and offers a repairs service.
But attention is still firmly focused on their own products, in particular the launch of the new HEDCAMz OLFI, an affordable camera which will be capable of shooting 4K video at 24 fps.
The camera has been designed by Carl in Wrexham and will be manufactured in China, with a Spring launch date estimated.
“Designing my own branded action camera was what I set out to do from the start and I’m very excited about what can be achieved with the OLFI. Feedback has been excellent so far and hopefully it can realise its potential.”
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