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Featured Studio Owner

Michael Ondrasik
Home Video Studio - MOUNT DORA

Date: 08/06/2015

Michael Ondrasik, Home Video Studio owner in Mount Dora, Florida has always been a man who delivers. He delivered his lines with conviction treading the boards as a professional actor. He delivered goods accurately and on time while running his own transportation business. Now he delivers on his promises to delighted customers as he provides video services for everyone from his home base just north of Orlando.

Michael was installed as a Home Video Studio owner a year ago and was quick out of the gate. His dedication was recently recognized as he was recently awarded Rookie of the Year honors, as well as Best Rookie video, at the annual Hanley Awards, the culmination of HVS's 15th annual Getaway in Orlando FL.

Besides all the accolades he had his best month ever on the anniversary of his first year in business. Heading into his second year and looking forward to the Holiday season Ondrasik is looking forward to delivering on even more goals. Congratulations to Michael Ondrasik, our Home Video Studio July Owner of the Month!

We caught up with Mike on the heels of his great Getaway performance and a great first year anniversary. Here's a little insight into our Rookie of the Year:

What was your professional life before HVS?
I graduated from Westminster College in 1977 as a theatre major. I spent a year or two "treading the boards" before moving into a career in transportation logistics that supported me over the next 35 years.

Did anything in your previous career prepare you for your studio ownership?
Running my own transportation company for 13 years gave me a taste of the administrative and customer service responsibilities that comes with being a business owner and employer.

Was photography, video, media, etc. a hobby of yours before you decided to make a business out of it?
It seems that I was always interested in film, video, theatre, editing etc. I recently stumbled across a Super 8 reel that contained a student film I did in 1972. Maybe you'll see it one day in the Dr. Strangelove category at a future Hanley Awards.

Do you come from entrepreneurial families? Is entrepreneurship "in your DNA?"
My parents were educators, working for the public school system in Maryland. But they raised me to be an independent thinker and to have the courage of my convictions. They desired for me to carve my own way through life and I will always be grateful to them for that.

Were you actively looking for a business opportunity or did you run across HVS and it piqued your interest?
My wife and I were actively looking for a business that we could establish in our adopted hometown of Mount Dora FL. We knew what we didn't want – we didn't want to open a restaurant or a boutique shop. We did want something we could carry into our retirement years. Home Video Studio pushed all the right buttons for us.

What was your impetus to leave an ostensibly comfortable, middle class, salaried lifestyle and take a risk?
First of all, there is nothing really comfortable about a middle class, salaried lifestyle. There is work and sacrifice and disappointments and compromise. So deciding to break from it wasn't all that hard. The secret is this: Following a life passion is never a "risk." Some might say it is a risk not to follow it. I firmly believe the affirmation "Do what you love and the money will follow." It isn't always easy but I have found it to be true.

Did you anguish over this decision or was it a no-brainer?
No anguish on my end. All of life contains decisions that must be made. Obsessing over them or fretting about them is fruitless. The key is to follow through on the decisions that you make and then make the best of them. That is what we're trying to do with our Home Video Studio.

What are some surprises you discovered lately in business?
The biggest surprise is one we were actually told to expect. People have a surprising abundance of old media that they would like to have converted to new. And, as far as sales/marketing/advertising is concerned, it is changing rapidly. We've built more of an online presence that I was expecting to build but that seems, surprisingly enough, to be where the majority of our audience is.

What was your start like?
I really don't have much to compare it to. We opened in mid-July, just after the 2014 Getaway. Summer in Mount Dora is "off-season" so it was slow but it gave us the time to get our feet underneath of us and introduce ourselves to the area. By the time fall arrived, we were well positioned to handle the exponential growth that occurred.

Who are some of your famous or not, living or not inspirations?
Well, my wife jokingly refers to me as "Opie" which I wear as a badge of honor. There is a certain mid-western, all-Americana aura that I tend to give off. My favorite director/actor combo is Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart. It's a Wonderful Life continues to be my all-time favorite movie and it is a holiday must-see for me every year.

After a year of business how would you answer this: "What is absolutely necessary to thrive as an HVS owner?"
The same way I'd answer for any business… commitment and hard work. There is no easy street for an entrepreneur. I work long and hard hours in order to provide the level of service I would expect to receive from any quality organization. This is not a business for lazy or unmotivated people.

Any special days or events stick out in your first year?
After we signed our HVS agreement and I signed a lease for our storefront, I picked up the keys to our studio from the landlord and went to do a general cleaning. I was scrubbing the windowsills when a car pulled up in our lot. A young woman got out and said that she had heard a video studio was opening in the area. She was clearing out her father's estate and had come across boxes of 8mm and 16mm film. She ended up giving us the job of preserving her father's films before we ever opened our door. It gave us great encouragement to know that there were actually people who were looking for the kinds of services we wanted to provide. Because of the confidence she showed to us, we decided to name one of the rooms in our studio after her. When you come to visit our studio, ask to see the "Amelia Room."

What are a few of your next growth steps?
Our studio happens to be centrally located in one of the largest retirement locations in the United States. After we have solidly branded ourselves as the local specialists in video and film transfer, I am really looking forward to reaching out to our aging population to offer them the opportunity to record their LifeStory. Preserving the legacy of a family's history is a passion of mine and I find the LifeStories to be an invaluable gift to pass on to future generations.

What are some of your mistakes and what did you learn?
Our biggest mistake is one we didn't make thanks to our decision to follow those more experienced. We struggled for a long time in finding a suitable location to establish our storefront studio. We had 9 possible sites lined up and had chosen our favorite. We then asked Robert to come down to look at what we've found, fully expecting him to agree with us. He didn't. And he was right. The place we had favored was cute, charming, and in an area we loved. But it would have destroyed our business. Nobody would have come to it and it would have been far too small for us to function effectively. Where we ended up has proven to be the absolutely best choice for us and there isn't a day that goes by that we don't receive compliments on it.

What is your favorite business-related thing to do?
I really love the photo video keepsakes. There is something about taking still photos and adding motion and music to evoke emotion and tell a story. It stimulates the creative juices within me.

Any favorite quotes or aphorisms that sum up your way of being?
I can't really answer this without quoting Scripture: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding." Proverbs 3:5 (KJV). If there is one thing I know, it is how much I don't know. What success I have comes from recognizing my own limitations while not being bound by them.

Michael Ondrasik

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