In a recent post, I talked about how a 10-year anniversary of an event would be a milestone for me and my son. (Check back in about a week for the conclusion to that story.) But another important anniversary is also on the horizon. A pretty big one, in fact.
Do you remember what you were doing on July 1, 1985? Were you even alive in 1985? Well, I was alive, and I remember pretty clearly what I was doing. It was the day after my 24th birthday, and I was beginning the first day of work as president of a fledgling company, Video Post Productions, Inc.
Along with three other partner/investors, I founded this video production facility to serve the needs of advertising and corporate clients in the Toledo area. After a month or two working out of an office at a neighboring ad agency’s space, I moved into the “expansive” 750 square feet of newly finished space at One Sunforest Court in Toledo. I had a few years of video and audio production experience under my belt by then. Did I have any business experience? No, not really. But with the help of my attorney and accountant, as well as my older, more experienced partners, I learned the business end of things as I went along. That’s not to say there weren’t a few occasions when I held my head in my hands and wondered what I had gotten myself into. But with dedication, hard work, and an easy-going style with clients, I was able to slowly grow the business and learn a great deal in the process.
Keep in mind, that in 1985, there were no laptops and no cell phones (unless you count the gigantic beasts that were bolted into the trunk of some doctors’ and executives’ cars.) There really wasn’t even an internet, as we know it today. So, many companies relied on “capabilities videos” to inform their prospective customers about their goods and services. This type of project was the bread and butter of many production facilities in the eighties. Fax machines were just starting to become common in the workplace, and Federal Express (not yet renamed to FedEx) was the only way to get data or materials from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. Clients actually scheduled projects days and weeks in advance, and would personally come into the suite to supervise the majority of edit sessions.
Millions of edits, 3 addresses, and 25 years later, Video Post Productions, Inc. is still here. Little by little, the partners were bought out, equipment was upgraded, and new technology was embraced. So you would think that on July 1, 2010, we would throw a huge bash celebrating a quarter century of business. Ironically, that won’t be the case.
You see, in recent years, the growth of the internet would allow many companies to market themselves through their websites, instead of producing long-form capabilities videos. No corporate videos equals less business for us. Advancing technology, and lower cost computers and software would open up the industry to scores of newcomers throwing their hats into the production ring. More competition equals less business for us. A major client providing 60-70% of our business suddenly loses all of the projects that used to come our way. Significantly less business for us. Then the U.S. stock market and general economy goes in the toilet in late 2008. Everyone gets nervous about spending money. Even less business for us.
So if you get the impression things have been tough for the last couple of years, you’re getting warm. To be completely blunt, things have been quite brutal since spring of 2008. Now I won’t get into all the sordid details, but let’s just say Video Post billed about the same in 2009 as it did in it’s first six months in 1985. That is roughly 30% of what we billed in 2007. So you’ll understand if we don’t have a big catered party with booze and merriment. While I’m grateful to have had the support of many local ad agencies and corporations over the last 25 years, I’m not in much of a celebratory mood these days. Maybe in another 25 years.
So, when July 1 rolls around this year, take a minute out of your morning and think about where you were 25 years prior, and where you’ll be in 2035. But don’t take the future for granted – things don’t always go the way you think they will.