Photodon's Growth Leads to a Big Move

| By Jolynn Paige

What better way for a business to start out a new decade than to move into a big, beautiful building?  After 20 years of expanding and 8 years of renting, Photodon's owners, Don and Jeanette Basch, decided it was time to invest in their own building. "We've known for quite a while that the business was growing out of our rented space. We just needed to find the right fit," said Don.

The "right fit," at 1517 Northern Star Dr, Traverse City, Michigan, includes triple-the-size square footage, lots of windows, an expansive shop floor, several spacious office areas, a kitchen, and a conference room. The entire 20-year-old building is 12,500 square feet, a portion of which is rented to The Collar Clinic, who were the previous property owners.

"We've looked at a lot of possibilities, including having our own building constructed, but this move made the most sense all things considered," Don explained.  Jeanette added, "We're really excited to have our own kitchen and a huge amount of cupboard space for our staff to have a place to share meals together,"  She said she and Don just knew it was time.

Photodon has seen steady growth in their business-to-business sales. Photodon's biggest sellers right now are privacy filters for companies that need to keep information on their screens private. The company goals are targeted on continuing to see sales increase in that area.  "Currently, we work with some really big names, like Mars, Carlton, and Arby's.  We want to be able to continue to offer quick turn-around times and high-quality inventory while we grow.  We feel we're in an excellent position to do that now," said Mandy Peterson, general manager (and Don's daughter). Mandy explained that Photodon is now in a position to take on bigger projects and add new equipment.  "We were so cramped in our other location, it was inevitable that we would need a larger space.  Also, our inventory had to be spread out into two buildings, which was really inefficient," she said.

Peterson, and operations manager Dave Needham have been involved in training in lean manufacturing, which involves reorganizing spaces and processes in order to operate as efficiently and safely as possible.  "This move and the space we now have is really putting us into a different category in terms of productivity and future projects," said Needham.

The timing of the move was a little tricky, since it took place over the holidays (the end of 2019).  Everything went incredibly smoothly due to long weekends, careful planning, and family support.  The Basch's grandsons, Bryton Basch and Gabe Reginato along with their dads, Mark Basch (Don's son) and Josh Reginato (Jeanette's son) helped with the move. "We couldn't have done it without them," said Don.

While the space was in great shape, it needed some spit and polish, including painting and sealing the shop floor, installing new energy-efficient lighting, and giving the entire place, including the office, a new paint job.  Don, Mark, Dave, and Jeanette helped build out partition walls for the shop, and Dave's ideas helped tremendously in laying out a shop floor that encouraged an efficient workflow. Paul Peterson, (Mandy's husband) painted the entire office — a huge help.  Folks that weren't helping to move were making sure orders were fulfilled and customers' needs were still being met. It was a true team effort.

With 20 years of service Don says, "We look forward to another 20 years of applying the Kaizen principle of self-improvement."  
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