June 17, 2010: Phil Gresham, (FotoFast, Brisbane) industry stalwart, PMA Queensland president, and current international president of DIMA, has been recognised by PMA Australia with a Distinguished Service Award.
The PMA Australia Distinguished Service Award is given based on career commitment and invaluable contributions to the photo imaging industry.
‘Phil Gresham has been in the photo industry for most of his working life’, noted PMA Australia national chairperson, Richard Robertson in announcing the award at the Digital Life Expo in Melbourne on June 5.
‘During that time, he has been involved in professional photography, wholesale lab management and photographic supplies. For the last 21 years, Phil has been in minilab retailing, first, operating a group of 34 stores and for the last 16 years, in partnership with his wife Caroline, owning and operating Fotofast Digifoto, based in a major downtown mall in Brisbane.
Phil Gresham was in the US on business and so missed out on accepting his award in person, but he had some typically insightful advice to specialist retailers in Australia and New Zealand in a recent interview:
‘Many of our 1-hour stand-alone competitors have closed down, but these have been replaced by the big box stores with a business model of selling everything at the lowest price,’ he explained.
‘To compete, we have always tried to be ahead of the market with new products and services. Photo gifting, photo books, and poster business are all done in-store – made in hours, not weeks. This is the big difference between the big chain stores and us, along with the ability to offer and deliver truly exceptional customer service.
‘We are moving into new wide-format printing technologies using latex printers, as well as retail publishing systems that will enable us to add so many new, profitable, and unique product lines in the near future.
‘We don’t belong to a local marketing or buying group; there really isn’t one for our business. They’re more about selling hardware. A few years ago, we became the first Australian member of the US-based (IPI) group. This has been a huge asset in our ability to understand and implement change.’
He went on to note that few of the small specialists who were closing their doors had good websites.
‘Was this a coincidence? I don’t believe so. I believe you have to build your customer database and use it to keep getting out your message on a regular basis.
‘We also believe you have to become the 1-hour alternative to the big guys in your community. Especially with profitable gifting products, you don’t need to be using a price-based model to compete when you are offering a fast and personal service.
‘ “Order online, collect in store” is where we want to be. I also believe you need to become even more involved with your local community, and be seen as a good corporate citizen.’
– As Phil himself has been within the photo industry over many years through his infectious enthusiasm, and willingness to share ‘the secrets of his success’ so generously with his retailer colleagues.
Photo Counter congratulates Phil Gresham on his receipt of this well-deserved honour!