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Featured Studio Owner

Home Video Studio - Ottawa
Home Video Studio - Ottawa

Date: 12/05/2014

David Gardner of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada was our Studio Owner of the Month a few years ago. His story, like several of our owners’ stories, revolves around getting off the corporate treadmill and saying “yes” to a vision he had started to nurture. David’s story, and the good natured way he tells it, make it a classic. Here is the original article, followed by an update:

David Gardner, Home Video Studio owner in Ottawa, Ontario Canada, is making money in his video studio. And the best part? He loves it! "My favorite part of my business is the "busy" - ness of it," says Gardner, "I like to have so much work that my biggest challenge is figuring out how much I can get done at one time with the equipment I have. I like to feel like the plate spinner on the old Ed Sullivan show."

David came to love thrill of "plate spinning" after a not-so-thrilling roller coaster ride. Like several studio owners in our family he spent the first part of his career in corporate high-tech. Then came some bad news. Like several studio owners in our family, he was laid off after many years in his industry. Then came some good news! He found a similar position in the same industry. Then came some bad news. He was laid off from that too. "Then I was finding myself going to twelve or thirteen interviews for a job I wasn't sure I wanted anymore," says Gardner. Something got the wheels turning: "I went to a friend, whose hobby was video production, to make a photo montage for my wife's birthday. When I saw the equipment, the software and, of course, the final product I wondered if a guy could make a business out of this," says Gardner.

Gardner did make a business out of it, buying equipment and self-training. He began to pick up clients like dance studios, weddings and corporate promos. Still the sporadic nature of the business and the failure to get the prices he needed kept him from really moving his business ahead. Yet another roller coaster ride?

While browsing the web for ideas to improve his business he came across the Home Video Studio website and recalled ads he had seen in past years in Video Maker magazine for Home Video Studio. With encouragement from his wife to get things happening with his business, he decided it was now or never and began the steps of looking into a franchise. Soon David was on board.

The first thing he learned was to stop focusing on what he didn't want and start focusing on what he did want - and what he wanted was to make money in the video business.

"My change of focus made all the difference in the world to me," says David. "I came to Home Video Studio with some video skills but not a lot of knowledge on how to make it a business. A solid marketing system and a presence in my market really helped launch me. Now, as my competitors are struggling I feel like the big gorilla on the block."

"In business for yourself but not by yourself" is an often-quoted phrase that fits Home Video Studio and its relationship to the owners: "There are many things I like about Home Video Studio that I never would have thought of - or didn't have the resources to do on my own." says Gardner. "The website stands out. The tracking system. The camaraderie with other owners."

Now, nearing his fourth year in business, David finds himself at or near the top income producers in Home Video Studio on a frequent basis. And, as it should be, David finds the ultimate reward in satisfied customers. "I love handing my customers as perfect a video as possible. It's like their life on a silver platter. They thank me, but really all I do is facilitate the content that they brought to me. I should thank them for the opportunity."

When we caught up with Dave this time around he was in the throes of a busy holiday season. Always the gracious host he brought us up to date:

In our original article we talked about your finally saying “no” to the same old grind and taking a risk to run your own business. Do you came from an entrepreneurial family?

At first I would say no but as it turns out my sister is in business for herself as a designer of upscale window coverings, my brother in his retirement is a thriving artist who paints and markets/sells his art and I have a nephew who has a business that provides websites and marketing. I still feel like I am an unlikely candidate to start my own business but there you go.

You’ve been a studio owner for nearly six years. Is there anything that still surprises you about the business, customers, video, etc.? Has anything surprised you lately?

It always surprises me how after this many years in business, transferring largely legacy formats, that every year there is some new equipment I could really use. There’s the mantra “if you buy it they will come”. I’m just finishing up a 6000-photo transfer order for example. This is an order I received just months after I purchased a Kodak PS50 scanner. It also surprises me how rapidly software tools evolve and change. I like new technology but there’s a real price to pay in coming up to speed with new stuff in first learning it and then integrating a new workflow.

6000 photos transferred is a nice order! Do you remember your first order?

Like it was yesterday. I started with an order for a single VHS tape. Months later the gentleman came back with a $10 coupon to get a copy made of that very DVD. He felt badly that I didn’t charge him because he had a coupon so he gave me $5 anyway.

What, in your opinion, is absolutely necessary to thrive in this business?

It probably applies to any small business, but as an owner you really have to own the business. I mean own all of it. The successes, the failures, the fun parts, the less-than-fun parts, the marketing, the production, the sales, the administration, the profits, the expenses, the net profit and ultimately the overall success or failure. Also you need at least one really good computer ;)

Do you like your present situation? Are you in a growth mode?

Of course I have my ups and downs but overall I am happy with my present situation. I need to expand my studio space somehow. I am still operating out of a 10’ x 10’ space. There are 7 computers in here! I have to move some equipment in and out depending on the jobs I am doing. I am planning to take over another part of the house to give myself more studio space but that requires a little renovation first.

What parts of your life before HVS contributed positively to your video business?

I thought the business I wanted to be in was video production so I learned a lot about shooting and editing videos. I learned and played with lighting and audio and composition. That helps when I have a production job to do but the real money is in video and film transfers and video editing.

Home Video Studio - Ottawa
Ottawa onntario

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