St. Simons Island, GA -- For the second time in two years 67 imaging labs and eight sponsors of the Prolab Classic golf tournament returned to Sea Palms Golf & Tennis Resort. They comprised 35 four-person teams for two days of competitive golfing and productive networking.
The Prolab Classic is the brainchild of Larry A. Anderson of The Image Place in Weirton , WV , and it dates back 19 years when he was at Bremson Data Systems in Kansas City , working for Robert Davis, his first major sponsor.
While the U.S. Masters Golf Tournament was enjoying national news coverage in Augusta , GA , the Prolab 173 industry golfers were hitting the links with serious strokes to be in the winning championship. Anderson points out that this is the first time a team that led the first day continued to stroke its way to win the Championship Flight.
There were numerous birdies, but a hole-in-one elevated Peter Lee of ABC Imaging Lab, Vancouver , Canada to the center of attention on the course and at the awards banquet. Lee, a "D" player and brother of Eddie Lee, helped his team capture first place in the First Flight. It was a triple-E event filled with excitement, enthusiasm and exuberance for Lee and the team, led by "A" player Rich Becker of Film Processing, Ltd. and hyped by Jack Helmen, CEO of Photo Control Corp. and Mark Lane of American Imaging. Helmen, by far the most outspoken member of the team, said Lee getting a hole-in-one made this tournament a super event.
"This is my eighth ProLab," said Daryl Osikowicz of PMI, Wauconda , IL . Osikowicz liked the timing better when the tournament was held in January, adjacent to APCI, because it was a nice winter break, and spring is a very busy time for their sports photography business. "I had to shoot 2,500 soccer players the day before, just to be able to come." He said he wouldn't miss the fun, camaraderie and networking.
Fred Schiele has 15 years of ProLab in his golf bag. "It has always been great, like magic. They're good people to share ideas with and play at the same time. There is nothing better than having a bunch of guys that have similar experiences. There is that little detail that comes up that can make a task easier and help us solve problems." Schiele said he purchased most of his company's new equipment because of good recommendations from Prolab. "We brought our Frontiers because of Tommy [Morgeson], and our Durst because of the commercial labs that had them."
The club's pro, Joe Matheny, welcomed back ProLab players with open arms. "I wish they were here every year," he says. Those who were fortunate enough to be invited agree that Sea Palms is the right size for this group because the group is able to take over the entire resort and golf course.
With APCI waning, digital imagers and their suppliers need a venue to network and have technical and business discussions on a one-to-one basis. The group consists of 25 commercial imagers, 35 people labs, two wholesalers, PMA staff, plus eight sponsors and their associates.
Lou Stefley of AgfaPhoto has attended three ProLabs. "It's good for suppliers to support these and other industry events where you get to interact with a wide variety of customers for several days." He believes that the opportunity to have face-to-face contact with people in the industry outside of a trade show is vital. Stefley states that Agfa will attend next year.
Many industry suppliers are eager to be on Anderson 's short list to become a sponsor. Ed Harold of Quality Media & Laminating Solutions has been voted in as next year's sponsor.
Ron Waters, president of Durst U.S. , a first-year sponsor, gives his impression of the event. "ProLab offers Durst and other sponsors a unique opportunity for our customers that is highly valuable both as a sport and networking event. We get to know our customers in a relaxed and non-sales environment. The exchange of ideas and experiences is invaluable. We are truly privileged to be part of one of the most prestigious events of the year."
This tournament would not take place if it were not for the sponsors, but that's only half the story. Chairman Anderson works all year organizing the affair, but he points out that during the three days, he needs a lot of help.
Following a tribute to PMA's late Roy Pung, Anderson acknowledged the support from Rex Job and Brenda Anderson who handled the pairing party, John Rousseau and Bob Leidlein who posted the scores, and Rick Tinsley, co-chairman of ProLab, who organized the gift packages and handled all of the hour- to-hour details that made the tournament run smoothly. Carol Titus, Nancy Champagne, and Hedy Gaetano worked hard to put together the Photo Placques. Frank and Joann Klakos, Brenda Anderson's parents, prepared the banquet decorations and prizes and assured that everything was just right for each evening's event. Toren Prawdzik, the IT geek, provided entertainment each evening with video and continuous slide shows.
To celebrate the ProLab Classic 20 th Anniversary, the tournament will meet at the legendary Pinehurst in North Carolina , March 26-29, 2006 , heralded as the golf Mecca of the East Coast. Pinehurst has the championship course open for the digital imagers. So if you would like to participate in this rewarding industry event, contact your supplier sponsor, visit www.prolabgolf.com, or call Larry Anderson at (304) 723-3085.