SolidLine Media recently had its 16th birthday, so naturally it’s time for the crew to reflect.
Take a look at the questions we asked each SLM crew member below!
SLM to John: Where were you/what were you doing 16 years ago?
John: 16 years ago, I was in 7th or 8th grade. The Packers beat the Bears twice that year by a combined score of 37-19. The Brewers had a young rookie pitcher by the name of Ben Sheets start 25 games, just a year after winning the gold metal in the Sydney Olympic games. The Badger football team had a lot of skilled position players in 2001 including Brooks Bollinger, Jim Sorgi, Anthony Davis, Wendell Bryant, and Lee Evans. Unfortunately, injuries really stacked up for them and they wound up with a mediocre 7-5 record, missing the playoffs entirely. Fortunately, they haven’t missed the post season since, going 7-8 in bowl games, including winning their last three.
SLM to Kortoney: Give us some 2001 stats — what’s changed in 16 years?
Kortoney: So many things have happened!
2001 Apple released the iPod. Now the iPod isn’t even made anymore!
2002 The world’s first cyborg!
2003 MySpace.com was launched and quickly became one of the most popular social networking sites on the web. In 2006, they had over 100 million accounts.
2004 Spirit and Opportunity were launched for The Mars Exploration Rover Mission.
2005 The launch of a little video sharing site that you may have heard of… YouTube!
2006 We were blessed with Twitter.
2007 The biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression and the Debut of the Iphone! (Unrelated… at least I think they’re unrelated…)
2008 Scientists extracted images directly from the brain. Wow!
2009 Barack Obama is sworn in as 44th President of the USA.
2010 Scientists create synthetic life.
2011 The Space Shuttle fleet is retired and Juno probe is launched to Jupiter.
2012 The Mayan calendar reaches the end of its current cycle.
2013 Birth of a royal baby & China overtakes the USA in scientific research.
2014 The new World Trade Center opened.
2015 The first self-regulating artificial heart is created.
2016 Supercomputers reach 100 petaflops and The Juno probe finally arrives at Jupiter!
2017 SolidLine Media Turns 16! Man Have we come a long way!
SLM to Rob: How do you compare being 16 years old to SolidLine being 16 years old?
Rob: Sixteen years old. Like a sixteen year old, SolidLine keeps the pedal to the metal when it comes to video production. We’ve taken the family car all around the world for our great clients. No matter the job, we are licensed to catch the story and have a little fun along the way. Just don’t tell dad we took his car.
SLM to Ali: How was the 16 year anniversary special to you?
AM: I started my internship on SolidLine’s 10th birthday, so that’s how I keep track of how long I’ve been here. It’s crazy to think how fast these past 6 years have gone. I’ve learned a lot ‘Video Stuff’ and met some cool people and seen some awesome places. The thing I love most about working in the video industry is that I get to learn a little about a lot of different things. Cheers to 16 more years, SolidLine!
SLM to Kromm: What’s it like seeing your baby turn 16?
Kromm: It’s been such a crazy and awesome ride these past 16 years. When Greg and I were working on starting the business, we never thought this is where we would be today. The original goal was to just make videos for a living. We have taken that goal to the next level. I also want to give a shoutout to Vass – thanks for your support and dedication to growing SolidLine. I look forward to standing next to you the next 16 years of SolidLine Media. Happy Sweet 16!!!
SLM to Greg: How has SLM evolved in the past 16 years?
Greg: I always get a feeling of pride when I look back through the video archives, or am reminded of a production from our early days. The sheer amount of videos we have produced in 16 years is incredible to me, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished. Back when we started in 2001, Michael and I worked out of an apartment in Palatine, IL. The address was “Constitution Drive” so it worked well as most people thought it was a commercial address. The first prospective client that came to meet at the apartment had clearly expected a different location…surprise! We opened up our first ‘real’ office in downtown Chicago in early 2003 at 120 South Riverside Plaza. From there we were fortunate to use our address to get in the door and land a few good Chicago clients, who we still work with today. Our growth really took hold though when we made the move to Chicago, and started heavily marketing SolidLine Media online. Back then nobody was marketing websites like they are today, and we were one of the first video production companies in the country to do so thanks to some expert knowledge from my brother Brian. This really exploded our growth in the 2000’s. We landed clients all across the country, even in several other countries, and enjoyed the variety of work. Over the years as our workload grew, so did our crew. We added full time positions for Business Development, Motion Graphics and 3d Animation, an Editor, a Director of Photography, a Production Coordinator, and another Producer. It was a big decision with each new position, but our talented production crew puts in the hours in the office and on the road to make these productions happen, they are the heart and soul of SolidLine.
Today, our focus is on the high end video production project. We have learned how to say ‘no’ to projects that do not fit (which is a hard lesson to learn in a small business) and to focus on seeking out clients and projects who we feel will be a great partnership for our experience and capabilities (and our margin). You make a lot of mistakes when you run your own small business, and it’s impossible to see around corners. Being able to handle the ebbs and flows gracefully is important.
We have also learned a lot about ourselves over 16 years, and there are a few lessons that have been most important (and am still working on mastering). First, be patient. It is important to make smart decisions, and make them quickly, but to move on something without all the facts can lead to losses. Take the time to gather the facts and make the best informed decision you can, as quick as you can, and then move on. Secondly, learn from your mistakes. The key here though is being able to realize or admit that you actually did something wrong versus blaming someone else. And then to be smart enough to take the time to learn from what happened and to grow and become even stronger for the next time around. We all make mistakes because we are humans. Admitting and becoming better from those mistakes is how you succeed. Third, trust your crew. One of the hardest things to do when you are used to doing it all is giving up control. But enabling and empowering your crew to get the job done is the greatest service you can do for yourself as an owner, as you will then be able to focus on your own tasks and growing the business. Finally, do not forget to have a good time. It is ok to have fun and be a business. We often say around SolidLine: “It’s ok, we’re just making videos.” Not to discredit what we do, but we must remember that the enjoyment of life is the most important part of the job, and if the stress and frustration starts to overwhelm the pride in the work then the balance is off and we must reset. Having fun, laughing, enjoying our work environment and the fact that we get to run this amazing small shop and feed our families in the process is what it’s all about.
Most people didn’t think Kromm and I would last a year when we started, and I think that wall we had up in front of us only made us stronger in the early days, and even today. It also helps that we have a solid, transparent relationship as business partners. Kromm has been my best bud since middle school, and we lean on each other in the tough times and celebrate the good times. I cannot imagine this journey with anyone else. I know I add in my fair share of drama, but Kromm’s level head balances me out, and I am thankful for that and for his friendship for over 25 years. If you are going to have a partner in business, find someone like Michael Kromm. You will have a better chance at being successful.