January 3, 2024 - David Ross, Words from the Boss

A Dream Takes Flight: A Story of Restoration, Risk, and Resilience  

Fifty years ago, on a chilly January day in 1974, a dream took flight – not in the sky, but in the realm of broadcast technology.  

This was the day my father, John Ross, embarked on a journey to design the company’s first video switcher. It was a journey that started with just himself, a dream, and an old aircraft. 

Some of you may know that Ross’s seed capital came from selling an old Taylorcraft L2 aircraft built to train pilots for WW2. As the story goes, my father sold the aircraft for $3500, and with a matching bank loan and personal savings of $500, Ross Video began. However, the significance of that aircraft extends far beyond its monetary value. 

His experience restoring it was crucial in bolstering my father’s confidence to launch and grow his new company. 

The Taylorcraft on the drive of family home.

A Big Dream and a Bigger Restoration 

In 1971, the fabric on the aircraft’s wings was found to be no longer airworthy. My father decided to take the plane home to restore it but quickly found (to his horror) that he had been flying an aircraft that was literally falling apart. The wooden structure was rotten through and through. It could have come apart in the air and killed him at any point — it just wasn’t his time to go. 

Perhaps worse still, the restoration was now going to be a mammoth project.  

Undeterred, my father embarked on an 18-month journey. He had an experienced mentor to guide him, but the restoration still took over 1800 hours, which he worked tirelessly alongside his full-time job. 

Dad says he “ate that elephant, one bite at a time.” 

Dad working on the wings in the garage.

An Education in Entrepreneurship  

Through this, Dad learned what he describes as crucial skills for any entrepreneur: 

  • Minimize the cost of a project 
  • Keep it on schedule 
  • Do things well 
  • Understand the principles, objectives, and obstacles from the beginning to avoid wasting time or redoing things later. 

The only time I ever heard my father swear was the third time in a row the replacement windshield cracked as he tried to bend it to shape. I think he also learned patience on this project! 

Perhaps most importantly, Dad learned that he could do almost anything with enough planning and unwavering determination. That belief was the cornerstone on which Ross Video was built. 

The proceeds from the sale of that aircraft — and the lessons learned restoring it — set my father up for the next challenge. He spent 1974 crafting Ross Video’s first product, which was a resounding success and set the stage for our future innovations and growth.  

50 Years of Innovation and Grit  

It’s fascinating to think that our journey started in the family home at 461 Oakville Drive – the same address listed in our first switcher ad under the name “Ross Broadcast Products.” Ross Video was always the intended name, but a bureaucrat initially turned it down. Dad’s persistence again paid off, as a few years later, the company was successfully renamed Ross Video. 

One of our early advertisements

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, I reflect on these humble beginnings with immense gratitude. Thanks to my father’s vision and relentless determination, Ross Video has grown into the company it is today.  

Thank you, Dad. Your legacy has not only shaped the video production industry but has also profoundly impacted the lives of so many people. 

Here’s to 50 more years of innovation and determination! 

An original Ross switcher.

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