Focus on: Ina Hilker, Felix Schoeller Group


Ina Hilker

Ina Hilker is Director of Business Research for Germany’s Felix Schoeller Group.

Founded in 1895, the Felix Schoeller Group is a family business with worldwide operations producing specialty papers. With around 2,290 employees, the renowned Osnabrueck-based company produced and marketed almost 296,000 ton of specialty papers in 2013, and posted a total turnover of 695 million euros. The company produces and markets specialty papers for photographic applications, digital printing systems, the packaging market, self-adhesive applications and for the furniture, wood-based products and wallpaper industry.

In addition to its Osnabrueck main site and headquarters, the Group has four other production facilities in Germany. It also has production facilities in the USA and Canada, and is involved in a joint venture in the Russian Federation. In addition, Felix Schoeller operates sales and service centers in Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and Prague.

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The Felix Schoeller Group produced nearly 300,000 tons of specialty papers in 2013.

Ina joined Felix Schoeller in 1987 as photo market analyst and has been researching the global photo output market as well as other specialty paper markets, such as decorative paper, for over 25 years. She is a well-known speaker on imaging market dynamics at international trade events and is one of the few analysts today covering the global consumer photo industry as well as commercial digital printing.

After attending her first PMA Annual Convention and Trade Show in Chicago in 1988 – which was also her first trip to the USA ever – she has not missed a single annual PMA event. “PMA is essential for my work,” Ina says. “It is not only a great platform for networking with friends and colleagues from across the world, it also provides great opportunities to see new technology and hear about market trends.”

When Ina is not absorbed in analyzing paper markets, she loves to travel with her family and is an avid rower.


Liberty marks 30th anniversary


libertyLiberty Synergistics is celebrating 30 years in business. Ron Green founded Liberty in 1984, initially as a supplier of plastic and stainless steel ball bearings to the photo and motion picture industries. Over the past 30 years, Liberty has grown significantly to meet the product, parts and accessories needs of wholesale and retail image processing companies across the USA and internationally. In recent years, Liberty added a fulfillment division, ivoke, making millions of personalized products. ivoke is a production and fulfillment powerhouse, working behind the scenes of many companies, brands, photographers and artists.

“We are continuing to realign our product offerings to include all the new innovative products that allow us to personalize our lives through imaging,” comments Green, CEO.

As a testament to Liberty’s commitment to the evolving imaging and personalization industry, the Company is launching a new website,, in August. Using the latest web and e-commerce technology, the new site offers a broad array of products to help imaging and personalization companies grow their revenue. From wide format printing to sublimation, direct print and mounting, Liberty2create offers a broad line of products to help labs increase their revenues and provide new and differentiated products to their customers.

Check back often, as the site will continually be updated with how-to videos, new products, and more.

Fotofast makes a move

DIMA President Phil Gresham was honored with a 2010 PMA Australia Distinguished Service Award
DIMA President Phil Gresham was honored with a 2010 PMA Australia Distinguished Service Award

Former DIMA President Phil Gresham

Our friend and past DIMA President Phil Gresham‘s been quite busy lately, moving his business to what he calls “the gateway to the affluent western suburbs of Brisbane” — and in doing so, achieving a staggering 90 percent reduction in rent. Look for more on this story coming from us soon, but in the mean time, be sure to read more about Phil and his shifting business in the new issue of Photo Counter.

On The Imaging Executive podcast: Changing social photo behaviors




In the new report “Social Photo and Video: The New Communication and Memory-Keeping Paradigm,” InfoTrends examines the motivations, reasons, and influences behind consumer imaging behaviors.

In this episode of the Imaging Executive podcast, associate director Alan Bullock explains how today’s consumers are likely to own many devices with cameras, and they make multiple choices every time they use those devices to communicate, share moments, or preserve memories with family and friends.

You can subscribe to our podcast or download the episode here.

Or listen in now with the player embedded below.

Business success: Beware the oxymoron

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Business Success LogoIf you’ve forgotten from your grammar lessons a few(!) years ago, an oxymoron is two words used together that, separately, mean the opposite of each other, like jumbo shrimp, cruel kindness, same difference, deafening silence… a word geek like myself could go on and on. But instead, I suggest we consider a phrase not typically included in a list of oxymorons: “strategic planning.” Do these two words really contradict each other? Mark Faust, founder of and author of Growth or Bust! Proven Turnaround Strategies To Grow Your Business, says they do.

“Strategic Planning’ is an Oxymoron

mark-faust-gobTo say, “strategic planning” is a call of management and board, is to ply an oxymoron, or at least refer to a practice for the moronic.

There is strategic thinking and there is planning and implementation. Strategy is the framework within which decisions are made which set the nature and direction of an organization. Planning has to do with implementation and tactics and tactics are what it takes to implement the strategy.

People claiming to be consultants who facilitate “strategic planning” probably don’t know many of the rudimentary aspects of strategy nor management. Beware of the “Strategic Planning” expert.

Rather than “strateegery” and the latest management fad mumbo jumbo, board members must hold leadership accountable to making sound decisions around the strategy to compete and position in the marketplace but this process is more about assessing your potential and position in the marketplace from the perspective of the customer than “strategic planning.”

The more apt term for the process an organization needs is that of self-assessment and it begins with your marketing and market-related objectives, which can be determined by questions like these:

  • What is your decision on concentration? What is your competitive advantage, and in what areas of the market can you be most successful? What differentiates you from the competition, how do you prove it and how clear is this to your best customers and non-customers? What are the different activities we’re performing that our competition is not? What are the similar activities we’re performing in a way that differs from our competition?

Answering these questions accurately helps to ensure that your market focus and positioning strategies are most effective and thus helps you to win what to your company will be the lowest hanging fruits.

  • What is your decision on your ideal market standing?

There can be great dangers to having an 85 percent market share, just as having too small a market share could be proof of gross ineffectiveness and lead to great vulnerability. It is better for you to have 50 percent of 250 than 85 percent of 100. Companies that are near monopoly face significant growth pressures and usually cannot effectively innovate. Choosing the most market share is not the objective; choosing the optimal market share is your objective. Boards must ensure leadership is determining the optimal.

Only after answering the above can leadership most effectively set Innovation objectives which can be determined by asking questions like these:

  • What is your business, and what should it be? What is the result that customers buy from you, or what is the job they want accomplished?

These questions can be an opportunity of great innovation and repositioning for you in the marketplace. GE Aircraft Engines made a significant leap in the marketplace and in profits when they realized that rather than selling engines, parts and services that what the customer would value more would be “power by the hour.” This all in one offering at a unified price empowered airlines to better align costs and gain a new advantage.

  • What areas might you not be adequately serving?
  • What businesses, products, or practices, if you weren’t in them today, would you still choose to get into? Which ones would you not enter, and thus, what markets might you need to exit, or what practices might you need to abandon?
  • How do you prioritize potential new markets, and what are the triggers that signal that you should enter them?
  • What are all of the potential distribution channels you could employ? What are the advantages of each, and where might you consider changing your distributive organization?
  • What is your customers’ perception of your service, and how do you compare to their alternatives? What is the optimal service standard and performance you need
 to aim for, and how do you best leverage this strategic choice in the marketplace?

Ensure your leadership begins a process of ongoing self-assessment and refinement of the above and other questions behind the process and you can transform the opportunities and growth of your organization…but whatever you do, don’t fall for strategic planning!

PMA/PPFA welcome new members


PMAlogo_CMYK_smallWe are happy to welcome all our new members, including: PPFA_RGB_150

Bush Mountain Stitchery & Framing, North Brookfield, Mass.

Colonial Custom Framing, Williamsburg, Va.

Double Diamond Technologies Inc., Ocean View, N.J.

Kevin Gillentine Gallery, New Orleans, La.

Night Owl Photo Cinematography, North Hollywood, Calif.

Paoli Fotobar, Paoli, Penn.

PhotoTek of Lake Charles, Lake Charles, La.

RKO Custom Framing, Charleston, S.C.

Paul Clutter of McAlister Photoworks wins first iPad in PMA Early Renewal drawing

Paul Clutter of McAlister Photoworks wins the first PMA early renewal drawing of the year
Paul Clutter of McAlister Photoworks wins the first PMA early renewal drawing of the year

Paul Clutter of McAlister Photoworks wins the first PMA early renewal drawing of the year

You know all those emails we’ve been sending you, reminding you to renew your PMA membership early to be entered into a drawing to win cool prizes?  Pay attention to them — Paul Clutter did, and he is now the owner of a new iPad! There are more prizes yet to be won, like an Apple iPad with Retina display, a camera bag from Think Tank Photo and a free badge to 2015 PMA@CES – and everyone who renews before August 31 is automatically entered into every drawing.

“I thought it was cool!” said Clutter, owner of McAlister Photoworks in Columbus, Ohio, on hearing he’d won the first drawing. “I have been a member of PMA for a long time. Our business has been around since 1931, and I have owned it since 2007. I joined PMA in 2007, but I’m sure we were members before that, before I owned the store. I have continued on every year since. PMA is a great association, and I think the photo industry needs PMA to keep it organized and do so much for us.”

Paul began working at the business he now owns, once called McAlister Camera & Imaging, since 1981. “When the owners decided to exit, I took over the last location standing –- there were five stores at one time — and immediately decided to focus on the lab side of the business. We have been a full service photo lab ever since,” Paul said. “We are now about the only photo lab serving a million people in the Columbus metro area. It’s a pretty amazing business. We stay very, very busy.

“Our business has grown exponentially, so we’re pretty fortunate. We do everything: book production, we have a press, we have a silver halide lab, we print wide format, we do pigment printing, we have an in house studio, custom framing. We try to do anything concerning the image,” he added.

They do all of that with a staff of only five. “We all spend a lot of hours here! I work twelve-hour days, every day.”

Paul said being a member of PMA helps him succeed in business. “The people in this industry recognize what an important organization PMA is.

Being a member is a very small expenditure to pay, to have someone who has our backs, to help us out and give us guidance. I read the magazine every month online. That kind of insight, to see what other dealers are doing and what’s going on, is really important to me. My membership in PMA, as well as IPI, also matters a lot because it gives me the opportunities to share what’s going on in the industry with others, and what is needed to make our businesses viable.”

Paul also said one of the most important resources PMA offers is the new Certified Passport Photo Center program. “I signed up for that right away, and it’s very good. Just five minutes ago, I was doing a Canadian passport. The Canadian Embassy had told that customer we were the only ones in Columbus who could produce an accurate Canadian passport. Having that program and information helps us do our job better. I’ve also used the PMA point-of-sale products, and I’ve used many ideas from PMA on how to promote our store. That’s always helpful. PMA just needs to keep doing what it’s doing!”

When he received the phone call telling him he had won the early renewal drawing, Paul said he was very surprised. “I never win anything! I thought she [PMA Membership Executive, Elaine Truman] was pulling my leg. I knew PMA was doing a drawing for people who renewed early, but that wasn’t why I renewed. I didn’t really contemplate winning, so it was a nice surprise.”

Discover “20 Awesome Productivity Tricks Anyone Can Use”

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Business Success LogoThis morning I came across an article by Inc. Magazine‘s Jeff Haden titled “20 Awesome Productivity Tricks Anyone Can Use.” Well, there’s a headline I’m certainly not going to ignore! Scrolling through the tips (which you do by clicking on each picture in the article), I decided there are lots of ideas here I will use, and I wanted to share them with you.

“Even though we all want to be more productive, it’s hard to make major changes. Small changes are easy – and can be incredibly powerful. That’s why the following 20 tips are simple enough you can immediately incorporate them into your daily routine,” Haden writes. “Some tips will help you better use your time. Others will help you harness your energy. Others will help you stay more focused. No matter what, they all work. So try a few – or try them all!”

Read the article here.

Learn how Snapshot Cameras in New Zealand has flourished since 1928

Graham Boswell
Graham Boswell

Graham Boswell

It’s the only job he has ever had, and Graham Boswell’s time in photography has captured everything from a digital revolution to the exodus of retail from the central business district.

Set at the South end of Hamilton’s main strip in Victoria St, Boswell’s business Snapshot Cameras has survived for one reason, he says. 

So begins an article in The Dominion Post on New Zealand-based PMA member Graham Boswell and his shop. Read more here and discover what that one reason is, and learn much more about this  86-year-old business.

Focus on: Jenny Inglis, Snappy Snaps

Jenny Inglis
Jenny Inglis

Jenny Inglis

Jenny Inglis, from Reading, Berkshire, tells her story:

I’d previously worked at ICI for 18 years, in administration. When we got to our mid-30s my husband and I decided we wanted to run our own business.

Our customer base is mainly the general public but some businesses also use our services and the university and college in our area bring another group of customers.

Things have changed a lot since we bought the business in 1993. Nowadays most of the editing work is Photoshopping. Since digital came along the demand for 35mm film developing has slowed. With digital photography the customers can see straightaway what pictures they’ve got and only select for printing the ones that they want, so we do a lot fewer standard prints now.

This prompted me to focus more on photo gifts, enlargements and canvasses. We also invested in setting up our own photography studio, converting an old storeroom and employing a photographer. With the technology we’ve got now we can do so much more.

Had I not decided to invest in this business I would probably have stayed at ICI. Being my own boss and having good, well-trained staff who know the standards of quality and service I expect allows me to take a day off knowing the place will be run fantastically. Having the PMA in the background for support if I need it is also reassuring.

Each day is different. You never know who’s going to be coming in, what they’ll be wanting or how much knowledge of photography they’ll have. It gives me a real buzz when customers tell us they’ve been recommended to us or that they always come to us because we do such a good job. It’s very satisfying to know we make our customers happy and it’s nice to be able to help people. I think it’s great!