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No financial details were available, but the deal was financed internally and brings the COMARK name back under the control of the Fiore family (and his associates), where it started some 40 years ago.
The senior management team at Thomson Broadcast U.S. has completed a successful management buyout and renamed the company COMARK Communications, LLC, effective immediately. No financial details were available, but the deal was financed internally and brings the COMARK name back under the control of the Fiore family (and his associates), where it started some 40 years ago.
“We’re pretty excited about it here,” Richard “Dick” Fiore, the new company’s president and CEO, said.
Fiore has seen it all when it comes to RF transmission in the U.S. His father, Richard Sr. — a decorated electrical engineer and RF systems pioneer — started the company in 1972, which was then then called COMARK Industries, Inc. The younger Fiore began working for his father’s company as a young adult, selling RF transmission components, such as elbows, diplexers, harmonic filters and other OTA transmission products to the broadcast and military industries.
In 1978, Fiore Sr. began selling transmitters through a new company called COMARK Communications, Inc., which built its first full-power (120kW, UHF band) klystron tube-based system for WCLF-TV (channel 22), a Christian Broadcasting Network television station in Tarpon Springs, FL. A good friend, David Smith, current president/CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, was one of the co-founders of COMARK Communications as well. Nat Ostroff, current vice president/new technology at Sinclair since 1996, Ray Kiesel and another mechanical engineer were hired (from competitor Acrodyne Industries) to develop a new RF exciter system. They formed a small engineering firm called COMARK Engineering Services, located in Quakertown, PA, that designed new RF systems for the parent COMARK company.
By 1983, COMARK Industries and COMARK Communications were merged into a single transmission technology company, serving the U.S. and overseas TV broadcast customers. Ostroff eventually became president of the entire company when Fiore Sr. sold the company to Thomson.
In 1986, COMARK was sold to Thomson Multimedia. Later on, Thomson changed its transmission division to Thales Broadcast. Then Thales sold the company to Grass Valley/Thomson (in 2005). Then, in 2011, Grass Valley, which was then owned by Technicolor (with Thomson as the overall parent), sold the division to a private equity firm called PARTER Capital Group (managed by F4 Holdings). It wasn’t a month after that sale that the Frankfurt, Germany-based PARTER acknowledged that the U.S. was “unfamiliar territory” and was looking to sell out.
In April of this year, PARTER Capital Group purchased the assets and resources of Grass Valley’s systems integration team based in Weiterstadt, Germany. The group consists of system engineers and specialists that design and build outside broadcast (OB) vehicles, as well as production and broadcast facilities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.