Steve Brown is the owner of Media 14 Productions, a full-service video production company located in southern Oregon. Greg Stiles, a reporter for the Mail Tribune recently interviewed Brown about his small business.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I am a full-service video production company with emphasis on CD and DVD duplication. I believe I'm the largest commercial duplicator in the Rogue Valley. I started the company in 1988 and came back to the valley and built a studio for Body Support Systems in 1999. I re-started the company in 2003 and put the emphasis on VHS duplicating. In 2004 I bought robotic gear to duplicate CDs and DVDs.
What inspired you to go into this line of work?
I wanted to work in the Rogue Valley and needed to do something in technology with a learning curve to it. It prompted me to become a video editor and that led to duplication. I assessed that the valley needed a service that had high-quality, quick turnaround time and dependability. One of the freelance jobs I got down in L.A. was as in-house editor for a video duplication company, EVS Productions.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?
I would have found my accountant earlier. When things ballooned up I was searching for an accountant. I know one of the pitfalls for small business is not having good record-keeping. I had someone that for five months told me the next weekend she would put my bags of receipts into QuickBooks. But that weekend never came and it put me into a panic. Then I was introduced to Marion Black and she took my shopping bag full of receipts and my practice of making money orders to pay bills and turned me on to online banking. I have an accounting program that allows me to account for every penny; I fear no audits.
What's the toughest business decision you've made?
To make the conversion and emphasis on duplication of DVDs and CDs and let go of the VHS duplication. You have to understand that I was $10,000 in debt with a credit card that had a 15 percent interest on it. I was paying pretty hefty fees every month for equipment. I didn't know if the world was ready to make the transition with me to DVD duplication; it was a tenuous time. Turned out it was the perfect time.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Do what you love to do, the money will follow. If you really put your heart and soul into what you love to do, it's amazing how resources will show up to accomplish your goals. Assess the market and find a real need and then become really good at fulfilling that need. Out of the 25,000 discs pumped out since August, I've seen about 10 come back because we exercise extremely high-quality control methods. The biggest discipline is to learn to take a day off.
Photo by Jim Craven.