Hattie tells us the story of a Steve Hoffman, who evolved his small photograph business producing postcards
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Hattie Bryant: A willingness to evolve. Steve Hoffman started in business printing quality photos for the real estate industry. He is still printing quality photos that you can see for yourself. He has evolved.
Steve Hoffman Hoffman: Unfortunately, we’ve started with technology first. When we went to modern postcard the only way that we can do with is to have everything internal be digitized. Everything was digital from the very beginning of modern postcard.
The key things with colors that has to be in registering the color has to be good and the only way you can do that is through Digi-Technology. We solve the problems back in 1993 and 1994 in terms of doing that so internally, we had a completely digital workflow Now is a question of how do we take peoples information and stuff from the outside to inside because we already knew where the land mine where.
Well, first of all, we need a pact not to everyday postcards
Hattie Bryant: Who’s we?
Steve Hoffman Hoffman: Jim Toya-Brown, my vice president, my wife. Hattie Bryant: She works for the company then? Steve Hoffman: She was actually one of our real estate photographers. And we were driving up to go skiing and I said, “You know.” We’re just talking about business and I said, “You know, I think that we could probably do postcards just by taking a sheet of paper and cutting it into four sheets of paper basically.” And they said, “No, absolutely not. I don't want to have anything to do with something that inexpensive.” And they basically promised me to drop the whole subject of postcards. Hattie Bryant: They felt it was demeaning. Steve Hoffman: Well, we were heading more towards larger brochures and more quality and going the other direction. I kept trying to bring it down to what people could afford. If we apply the technology of the day towards that, we could actually produce something that the market would respond to. Actually, I was probably the not strongest believer on the postcard so it was a lot of work and we were used to getting in work from professional photographers then we would get the quality. When you’re taking work from amateurs— Hattie Bryant: Like me. Steve Hoffman: They send in one-hour photo prints. I want you to reproduce it and sometimes you get transparencies that are way over exposed, under exposed, off color and our philosophy back then was garbage in, garbage out. And it wasn’t the technology to solve the problem economically. Color separation was very expensive, very time consuming and fortunately, Photoshop was the newest application on the block but it ran on the Macintosh which totally choke on an eight megabyte file. But Silicon Graphics had one made. Just the timing of everything like within months of Photoshop, it came out on Silicon Graphics. We had it on our machine and long before we could take the photograph and change the color and edit it to our press needs and we’re off and running about. Hattie Bryant: And you had how many employees then? Steve Hoffman: Sixteen. Hattie Bryant :So really the postcard product is what catapulted the company? Steve Hoffman: Yes, absolutely. One of the key things that I've heard—I think it was in the book long time ago was that everybody wants to get to heaven. Nobody wants to die to get there. That’s one of the key things that as I voice out from day one with my business was I didn’t care about the number of hours. I didn’t care about the effort. I was there to build an organization, to grow it and serve my customers and my employees. I love it.