In 1964, a gritty, determined US Hockey team took to the ice at the Olympic games in Innsbruck, Austria. The assistant captain - our founder, Tom Martin. How Tom got there from selling newspapers at the age of eight to help support his family is also key to understanding how Cramer became the company it is today.
A Team Player
The story starts in Cambridge, MA where Tom grew up. His father died when he was two years old, and the Martin family, which included Tom, his mother Anne, and his sister Anne Marie, relocated to church housing in St. Peter’s Parish, where at a young age Tom learned the value of hard work. He sold papers after Sunday Mass from third grade to college in order to supplement his mother’s waitressing, and he threw himself wholeheartedly into athletics.
Tom quickly earned a reputation as an outstanding student athlete. While a three-sport standout at Cambridge High and Latin (hockey, football, and baseball), Tom had a special love for hockey. He often helped the manager at the local rink scrape the ice in exchange for opportunities to practice his skating.
His tireless efforts on and off the ice earned him an athletic scholarship to Boston College, where he was a defenseman on the school’s hockey team. Tom was also named to the 1960 and '61 All-American teams, and in 1961 received the Walter Brown Award as the nation's outstanding college hockey player.
In baseball, he was a steady left-handed first baseman on the BC baseball teams that played in the College World Series in 1960 and '61. Tom went on to be inducted into BC’s hall of fame, and his hockey jersey has been retired.
Seizing the Opportunity
After earning his B.S. in 1961, Tom started law school at Boston University. However, he left after a semester to join the U.S. National hockey team. Upon returning to Boston, he joined the public accounting firm Arthur Anderson + Co.
In 1963, Tom was granted a leave of absence to try out for the 1964 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Martin not only made the team, but he was elected assistant captain. At the 1964 Olympic winter games, he roomed with Herb Brooks, who went on to coach the gold-medal winning 1980 Miracle-on-Ice team.
After spending five years total as a CPA at Arthur Anderson, Tom was hired by Cramer Electronics in 1966 as a corporate controller, later shifting gears to become national sales manager in the multi-national company.
Then, in 1979, the company was acquired by Arrow Electronics. Once again, with a keen sense of opportunity, Tom took out a loan to purchase the firm’s budding audio/video equipment sales division and, retaining the Cramer name, called the new venture Cramer Productions. He noticed that many companies were still using slides and overheads when they could be taking advantage of then-new video production technology.
Going for the Win
Cramer went from selling audio and video equipment and making local car commercials, to being one of the most well-regarded integrated marketing communications companies in the country. Now, Cramer operates out of a 70,000 square foot former warehouse in Norwood, MA, modified to provide all the state-of-the-art event and marketing services Cramer offers.
The company employs a team of 150 creative directors, marketing strategists, writers, technical directors, animators, environmental designers, project managers, and digital developers.
Martin built the company on two basic principles:
- Hire quality people
- Enable them with tools and internal capabilities to do right by our clients.
He also considers it an essential part of Cramer’s mission to contribute to nonprofit and charitable causes. Over the years, Cramer’s team has added their time and creativity to the efforts of organizations such as Mother Caroline Academy & Education Center, The Francis Ouimet Society, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, the Catholic Charities, to name a few.
Today, Tom Martin is still the captain of Cramer’s diverse team as acting chairman. He also has seven children—six of whom work at Cramer—with his wife of fifty-two years, June, and 22 grandchildren.
As the years go by, Tom is optimistic about the future. The key to a long and productive life, he insists, is an exceptional attitude and a great work ethic. There’s a framed quotation from the late comedian and humanitarian Danny Thomas that hangs in Tom's office and inspires his everyday work. It reads:
And that's called good sportsmanship.