September seems to bring out the best in the imaging industry.
My annual visit to the PRO convention is always one of the highlights of my year. That’s because it gives me a chance to really appreciate the industry to which we all belong.
It’s no secret that we’ve been going through some challenges—from iPhones to earthquakes. Sometimes it seems the odds are continually stacked against us.
But what we have is something you rarely see in any industry. We have retailers and manufacturers that come together to share ideas. They strategize and figure out how to continue to build sales and profits.
PRO is a “closed convention.” The oath we all take that “what happens at PRO stays at PRO” is well known. But I’m not breaking any rules by observing the not-so-obvious changes I’ve noticed in our industry.
First, we’re getting younger. There are so many examples of second- and third-generation business owners. And they are making moves to take their stores to the next level. Additionally, brand-new storefronts by Glazer’s in Seattle, Washington, as well as Midwest Photo in Columbus, Ohio, are two shining examples of investing in the future.
I was surprised and pleased to learn that Valerie Maros opened up a new Helix store. That storied brand was assumed to be finished. And I met Roy King, who picked up his family and invested in the Lens & Shutter franchise in British Columbia. They are all remarkably representative of an industry committed to face challenges and move forward.
Then there were manufacturers’ executives. Nikon’s Jay Vannatter, Tamron’s Gregg Maniaci and also Sony’s John Bruehl demonstrated their companies’ commitment to the channel at the convention, offering advice on how to grow and stay relevant.
I’ll stop short of calling it a photo lovefest. But it was truly inspiring to see that both sides are facing challenges—and we’re looking for solutions together.