Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Midway-based Photizo Group does its print-data business all over the world

By Dylan Russell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

When you journey down North Gratz Street in Midway, the building that probably stands out the most is the barnlike structure that belongs to Robin’s Nest Bakery, which sells the famous Kentucky Silk Pie. When you walk into the small foyer of the bakery, there’s a door with a sign that reads “Photizo Group is located upstairs.”

Photizo Group is based on North Gratz Street in Midway.
Nestled atop the bakery, in an area that used to be a distillery, the Photizo Group resides. This business consulting company specializes in print data services, and says it’s the only company of its kind in Kentucky.

“Print data services is basically where you outsource the printing to a third-party company and help cut cost,” said Scott Hornbuckle, a Photizo client-engagement specialist.

In the office, employees are on phones with clients and on computers, trying to help them with their businesses. Photizo not only functions as a manager of print data services, but as a consulting company for businesses.

Ed Crowley, the president and CEO of Photizo, said he worked at many other tech-based companies such as Texas Instruments, QMS and Lexmark before creating the company in 2006 in Versailles.

“He wanted to have a company that could answer the hard questions that companies have, and do more than just provide data, but actually provide the insights to help them with their business,” Hornbuckle said.

The company has a massive international outreach. Over half its profits come from outside the United States, according to a sheet that it gives to clients, “Photizo Facts.”

“Very little of our revenue comes from Kentucky,” said Crowley. “We do bring a lot of money back into Kentucky from payroll.” Hornbuckle said, “Most of our clients are in the northeast areas such as New York and Philadelphia, as well as on the west coast at places such as Boise, and Long Beach.”

Photizo Group has a branch in Japan. Crowley said he has been to about 40 countries.

The firm has a non-profit foundation, the Photizo Foundation. “In the last three years, we’ve raised over $17,000,” said Crowley. He said the money goes to three different charities. They support Casas por Cristo, a charity where many pastors, missionaries and volunteers build houses for families in parts of Mexico and Guatemala; Hope Hill, a Christian-based charity that provides child care for kids in need; and the American Cancer Society.

“We’re a Christian-based company, so we’ve got a real focus on being servants,” Crowley said.

Then-Mayor Tom Bozarth said in 2014 that he liked the jobs that Photizo Group has created in Midway, especially because they are unique to the area. “They provide 20-plus green jobs for Midway and add to our economy with payroll and net profits,” which the city taxes, said Bozarth.

Crowley said in April 2014 that the company had 24 employees, and that growth was on the horizon.

“We have it in our plan that within the next five years, we want to be over a 15 million-dollar-a-year company,” he said. “I would like us to stay within 50 to 60 people. When you start getting bigger than that, it starts to be a different kind of company.”

According to a press release from Meritus Ventures, a company that helps fund smaller businesses in Appalachia and surrounding areas, Photizo Group has had a growth rate greater than 50 percent every year since 2006, and its revenues doubled from 2008 to 2009.

“We want to be highly profitable as a 15- to 20-million-dollar company,” said Crowley.

Photizo Group was located in Versailles until 2013. Crowley said he moved to Midway because he liked the rural feel, and it’s still close to Lexington. “I can get up in the morning and be at a meeting in New York City, then fly back on the same day and sleep in my bed that night, all while living in the country,” he said.

Since Photizo is the only business of its kind in Kentucky, Crowley believes that people don’t need to go to all of the high-tech hubs like Boston to find jobs in this industry. “We need to leverage this idea of living in the country and having urban access, with all of the access of rural living,” he said. “You need businesses like ours to keep people here, to create those jobs. It’s a great place to work. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great town. We’ve just got to make it better known.”

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