Husband-and-wife team Jeff and Sandra Burt run three businesses under one roof in Gahanna – Eclipse Studios, founded in 1994; Solar Imaging, founded in 2001; and PageOne, founded in 2006. Eclipse specializes in commercial, advertising and industrial photography while Solar Imaging provides custom digital wide printing and PageOne focuses on color management services. Jeff Burt, 45, has been a professional photographer since 1986 and runs the businesses as CEO. Sandra, 44, focuses on marketing and client services. Jeff is a native of Cincinnati and has an associate degree from Antonelli’s School of Art Photography in that city. Sandra is a native of Whitewater, WI, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stout with a bachelor’s degree in clothing, textiles and design.
In getting through the recession, do you think being a family business helped in any way?
In any tough time, it’s always your family that gets you through. Not only do Sandra and I support each other through business decisions, we also count on our family of clients and employees to keep us strong and moving forward – we’re all in this together. This mentality has contributed to the strength of our business.
When you first noticed that a recession was setting in, what was your immediate reaction in terms of business planning?
The natural reaction to a declining economy is to tighten up and re-evaluate projections, goals and strategy. But instead of being reactive, we committed to be proactive. We knew we had to keep the bar high by continuing to be smart and conservative, yet progressive and aggressive with new business outreach and marketing initiatives. Instead of scaling back, we pressed forward. We recently purchased a new facility in Gahanna, which allowed us to bring all of our companies together. The appeal to clients is a solution to their own cost-cutting measures – all the resources under one roof for photo shoots, retouching, and large format printing.
You decided to not back down on marketing. What went into that decision?
We wanted to stay top of mind during the recession so we would be in a stronger position as the economy begins to recover. Fortunately, business has been steady and growing despite the tough times. We decided to focus on our strengths and move full-speed ahead. Because we’ve focused on marketing and new business development, we’ve experienced more opportunities than ever to grow and connect with more quality businesses and retailers. We have a full pipeline of new and potential business.
How did you convince clients to keep spending?
Our clients are major retailers and companies that have jobs to do. Recession or not, they need quality photography and printing services to meet their business objectives and boost sales.
You have other businesses, too. Did you embrace a similar or different plan for them?
We marketed each one as a standalone service that can be bundled with services offered by sister companies. They feed each other business.
What is the biggest business lesson you’ve taken away from the recession?
We have learned to stay conservative, yet proactive and focus on our strengths, especially as they relate to solutions that help companies stretch their budget. We’ve seen when we continue to move forward and provide strategic services, it attracts business. Moving forward, we’ll continue to invest in delivering our message to companies outside Ohio’s borders.