"Obviously, we were quite pleased with our decision to spin off the business," she continues. "Looking back, it was a rough five years. September 11 had a major impact on our company and on the industry as a whole. The dotcom bust was another big hit for us, because many of the companies that went out of business were our clients. During that time our trade-show business was way down, but we had our other services to fall back on and keep us going. We weathered those storms, and today we are a much stronger company for it."
Another good move for BWC was bringing the portrait business into their mix of services. "During that time we became immersed in the portrait market," she says. "Over the years, we have made every effort to stay on the cutting edge of new products so our clients can differentiate themselves."
George also has a museum exhibit business called Museumscapes (www.museumscapes.net). "This business specializes in museum work for high-end operations," she adds. "We have work lined up in museums for the next several years."
George says that 2007 should be a banner year for BWC. "Our portrait business is up about 30 percent, which isn't the norm out there," she explains. BWC's list of clients includes high-end portrait studios, wedding photographers, and sports event photographers. They also offer online printing and fulfillment for outlab services from larger national retailers.
When Durst and Ilford Photo announced the availability of the Durst Theta 76 BW printer, made specifically to handle IlfoSpeed RC Digital black-and-white paper, there was much speculation over which prolab would be the first to install this remarkable system. With no surprise, that honor went to BWC.
"We have printed black-and-white for most of our 32 years in business, primarily on Ilford RC paper for PR and agency work, as well as for newsletters and high-end weddings [for clients who] wanted the traditional look of black-and-white," says George.
"Although the ratios of film to digital, and black-and-white to color, have seesawed over the years, we have maintained our involvement in all areas," she adds. "Above all has been our commitment to quality—you only get one chance to impress a new customer. We are perfectionists. We make sure we get our clients' work right the first time, every time."
George sees no immediate end to black-and-white work. "There are clients who recognize the purity of printing black-and-white images onto black-and-white paper with no hints of green or magenta, which can occur when printing black-and-white images onto color paper," she says. "There will always be a demand for this format."
Lou George's dedication to high-quality black-and-white printing prompted her to be first in the queue to see the incredible print quality of the Durst Theta 76 BW, the first digital LED system for true black-and-white printing. This is now achieved with the new IlfoSpeed RC Digital paper, for which the printer was designed.
The system uses the proprietary Durst Fiber Optic (DFO) printing technology for continuous printing on black-and-white papers such as IlfoSpeed RC Digital. This fully extends the qualities of this unique photographic paper, seamlessly creating a bridge between digital imaging and the benchmark quality of real silver gelatin black-and-white prints.
"The results achievable from the combination of the Theta 76 BW system and the IlfoSpeed paper are incredible," says George. "We predict that demand for quality enlargements up to 30 inches, point-of-sale material, and corporate imagery will be high on their list.
"The Durst Theta 76 has really helped revolutionize our business," she continues. "With this product, Durst has come through with 30-inch capability of real black-and-white, and real black-and-white chemistry that provided us with a printer/processor that enabled us to offer all the advantages of digital but [with] real black-and-white photographs."
They also have a Theta 76 that prints color as well. "The productivity of these two printers is off the scale," she says. "My motto has always been to get the jobs back to the clients as fast as possible so they can make more sales. That's why we try to provide a 24-hour solution for them. The two Thetas help us get that done."
BWC also runs two new Fuji Frontier 570s. "These units also offer pretty remarkable quality," she says. "We have been able to offer services that were not available before with instant turnaround."