Magazine Article


A Man With a Plan

Dave Cordle, Steve Cordle and Rich Cordle
A Family Affair. The second generation, running Cord Camera today (l. to r.) brothers Dave Cordle, VP, and Steve Cordle, President/CEO, and cousin Rich Cordle, VP.
Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

Salesperson assisting a customer in Cord Camera's store
Cord Camera’s camera bar lets customers touch, feel, and preview all of the latest cameras without the need to wait for a salesperson. (All photos except cover image courtesy Cord Camera.)
The coffee bar in Cord Camera in Clintonville
The coffee bar in the corner of the new Scrapbook Studio in Cord Camera’s Clintonville location offers an added level of comfort for die-hard scrapbookers hard at work embellishing and journaling.
Customers editing at Fuji stations at Cord's Camera
Customers can edit, enhance, and print to their heart’s content at 1 of 6 Fuji stations situated within the store’s photo lab. Printers next to the kiosks offer immediate output, while those for later pick-up are routed to the store’s minilab.
Customers scrapbooking together at Cord Camera's studio
Recognizing the inherently social nature of scrapbooking, Cord Camera’s studio features comfortable chairs and custom-built tables so customers can fit all their tools, papers, and embellishments.
Customer surveys scrapbooking merchandise at Cord Camera
A wide range of neatly stocked merchandise in wide aisles takes Cord Camera above and beyond the typical row or two of scrapbooking SKUs found in many stores.
Staff helps scrapbooking customers at Cord Camera
A knowledgeable and certified staff keeps customers informed on the latest trends and developments in the scrapbooking arena.
Steve Cordle and father Jick Cordle
The Cordle Family: Steve Cordle (r.), has taken the reigns from father Jick (l.), who started Cord Camera with his brother Bud 52 years ago.
Custom framing department at Cord Camera
The Cordle Family: A recent addition at Cord Camera is the custom framing department, shown here at the Clintonville location—an ideal compliment to the other services and products Cord offers its customers.

“Everything was in a glass case, and you couldn’t touch anything,” says Steve. “With a camera bar, customers can touch the cameras, handle them, and read all the bullet points. It’s like going into a restaurant, being handed a menu, and then when you’re ready to order, someone comes over to get your order. You might have a couple of questions, but you’re basically ready and you know what you want. I had a real struggle changing over to that concept. I had long-term associates tell me how wrong I was to be doing this. But if you see it, and you know it’s right, you just have to do it.”

The same philosophy holds for the company’s scrapbooking solution. “No one’s seen anything like it,” says Steve. “We’re really onto something here. The whole thing behind our new store is to provide a different experience than what you’d get anywhere else. Hang out, get a cup of coffee, scrapbook—you’re going to like it so much, you’ll pass up the other guys.”

The Cordle clan is interested in possible national expansion, but right now their short-term strategy calls for deliberate, steady regional growth done the right way. “We’re very interested in being national, but we have a simple regional plan right now,” says Steve, “We currently have a 200-mile area, and I think the worst thing you can do is go outside that area and not be able to service it properly. I suppose there are exceptions, but our immediate gameplan is here. Our plan is also to do it with our own money—we buy all our own real estate. Even if you have to move, you can sell the building and get your money back. It’s a good foundation.”

Dave credits his brother’s insight and willingness to take risks for much of the company’s success. “Steve is the one who had the vision to make this happen—he was always willing to try a lot of different things,” he says. “He saw it and made it happen.”

Cord Camera is reaping the benefits of these carefully thought-out risks. “The business is better today than it ever was, for us,” says Steve. “Our photofinishing is up over last year, the scrapbooking is really doing well—everything’s going the right way.”

And that inherited pioneering spirit, always adaptive to an ever-changing environment, refuses to quit, even as Cord Camera enjoys the huge success they’ve experienced with their scrapbooking studios. “Scrapbooking is huge, of course, but in 10 years, will it be scrapbooking, or will it be something else?” asks Dave Cordle. “If it is scrapbooking, we’ll still be there, but if it’s not, we’ll be into whatever new thing is on the horizon.”