Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.Verbatim Corp., a Mitsubishi Chemical subsidiary headquartered in Charlotte, has rolled out a succession of new products the last few weeks and says more are coming.

This month, Verbatim begins shipping its 32x Ultra Speed CD-RW discs, which can burn a 10 megabyte file in about two seconds, the company says. Most MP3 audio files run about three MB, so burning a full album on the new discs would take about two and half minutes.

“We have the fastest product on the market,” says product manager Ron Hanifin.

Verbatim’s parent company developed a new recording technology and manufacturing method to make the ultra fast discs and is the only manufacturer of them. Verbatim holds the number one market share for DVDs worldwide and holds the number two market share position for selling regular CD-R and CD-RW discs.

Verbatim administrative manager Ellen Peters tells Local Tech Wire that the idea for a popular niche marketing product (recordable CDs that look like 45 rpm vinyl records), came from Hanafin.

Another of the company’s 47 Charlotte-based employees, product manager Tim Clatterbuck, came up with the idea for a coming Verbatim niche product, DVDs that look like movie reels.

The company’s popular new USB drive, which allows PC users to store 100s of MB of data on pocket-knife-sized portable drive, was the idea of Mark Rogers, also a product manager.

Verbatim also recently launched new CD-DVD labels that don’t require touching the adhesive and a technology for printing designs directly on the surface of media discs.

The 30-year old company started in Sunnyvale, CA., and has been in Charlotte for 20 years.

“We have a whole range of new high speed DVD discs and a full range of printable surfaces coming out,” Hanifin adds.

No, No Internet

Group 5 Sales, an event marketing company, tried an experiment back in 1998 when Internet hype was approaching tsunami proportions.

Dan DuVall, president of the company, says the company hired a programmer to create a software application from a manual system DuVall used to determine what corporations actually wanted from events they were planning. The company works with festivals, state fairs and corporations.

After information had been entered for a corporation’s requirements of the event and what it hoped to achieve, the software would give potential event sites a score from 10 to 100. The scoring was calculated on how it met the corporation’s needs in various areas. “It would tell them ‘This site meets 50 percent of your needs, or 80 percent, whatever’,” says DuVall.

The company launched Eventplanning.com in 1998 to take advantage of the automated application.

“Like a lot of people in the dot com era, we thought it was something the market would embrace,” says DuVall. “It has a lot of value to it. But it didn’t have enough value for them to learn to use new software, apparently.”

Eventually the company dropped the web site and took the software off the market, although now Group 5 uses it internally. “It cost us less to because we didn’t have to maintain tech people,” DuVall says. He adds that sometimes Group 5’s clients think the company is pretty smart the way it sizes up potential event sites, “but we’re just using the software.”

“We had a company that was interested in licensing the software, but it lost a major account, which took that sideways.” The company is soured on the Internet experience, however. “The Internet was originally designed to transfer information and that’s where it’s succeeding and thriving,” says DuVall.

Six-employee Group 5 spent 2002 “coming back from 2001,” DuVall says. But he sees economic light at the end of the new business tunnel.

“Marketing is the first thing people drop when things get tough,” DuVall says. “But right now we’re seeing people gearing up to spend, exploring new advertising and marketing opportunities. I don’t think we’re going any further into the negative side now.”

Group 5 has had offices in the Ben Craig Center since 1991

Blue Diamond Awards

The Blue Diamond Awards for 2004 are still taking nominations online until October 31. You don’t have to be a “technology company” to submit or win.

The Blue Diamond Awards also recognize categories related to technology -innovative users of technology, developers of technology, supporters of technology and individual innovators in the technology field.

Companies and individuals may nominate a client, customer, or another company that has made a good impression on you. Of course, you may also nominate yourself.

The process is simple this year, the Blue Diamond folks say. Just download the form, complete it and email it back to the appropriate address. There is no submission or application fee.

The Blue Diamond Awards: www.bluediamondawards.com

Verbatim Corp.: www.verbatim.com