A wide range of customers, from the novice to the professional photographer, shop at Calagaz. “We have an atmosphere where both feel comfortable. We do not sell drugs, do oil changes, rotate tires, or sell toasters. We sell memories,” Leo says.
Calagaz company values are an important part of how they do business. “We, at Calagaz, try desperately to emphasize to our employees that our customers should be their best friends because they pay their salaries. Our employees never talk down to a customer and are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy them,” says company chairman, Frank J. Calagaz Jr. “Our company was founded on the principle that we’re in the customer service [business]. This commitment permeates our company culture.” The company instills in its employees the importance of: customer service, continuous improvement, honesty, and integrity.
The Calagaz family supports its community, and encourages their salespeople to do the same. For many years, Calagaz has been a sponsor of Camp Rap-A-Hope, a camp for children with cancer; and has been involved with America’s Junior Miss program for over forty years, offering a yearly scholarship.
Calagaz also has the distinction of being named “Best Photofinisher in Town” and “Best Camera Store in Town” by the readers of the local newspaper, the Mobile Press Register, for the past five years.
Survival of the Fittest
Calagaz has been members of the Photographic Research Organization (PRO) buying group for over 15 years. “We attribute our success in retail sales to our membership in PRO, which has allowed us to continue to offer competitively priced quality digital accessories,” Leo says.
And the business has plenty of competition, from a Super Wal-Mart on the adjoining property to a Sam’s Club half a block away; framing competition from Michael’s, as well as numerous local shops; a national reprographics firm has a local office in Mobile; and there are numerous local printers offering commercial printing services.
Joe explains that “much of our [commercial printing] volume comes from our national accounts and commercial customers. We provide a complete package to include online ordering and fulfillment services.”
“We can no longer exist as a photo specialist, but rather, must become imaging specialists at whatever level is required to have a viable, profitable business. “To survive, retailers must expand the services available to their customers,” Pauline says. “The photo business can remain viable if we listen to our customers and fill their needs as it pertains to images. We also must be innovative in creating demand for our services, and always be willing to change. We believe people are recognizing the value of print at retail and the number of additional products that are available because of digital photo: photo blankets, mugs, books, gallery prints, borders, and scrapbook pages,” she adds.
Where does this multi-dimensional company plan to expand in the future? According to Joe, “we plan on expanding our offset printing capabilities as we see the demand expand within our customer base.” But imaging will always be the main focus for the Calagaz family. That’s where the business began, and it is at the center of what the company provides for its customers.