We had the good fortune of connecting with Greg Kendrick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Greg, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In my first year of college we had a guest speaker. I will never forget this one little sentence he spoke, which went like this, “As a freelancer, if I want a new stereo, I just work another day and buy a new stereo.” He had me at hello. What 18 year old kid doesn’t want a new stereo! Growing up in Hawaii, I took every side job I could find, whether it was picking macadamia nuts, working as a deckhand on a fishing boat, or pulling weeds for a local landscaper. I was not afraid of work, I welcomed it, and the rewards that came with it.
I studied during the day and paid my way through college by working nights. In 1989 I graduated with a BA in communications, a TV production emphasis, and a minor in business from Vanguard University. After I graduated I interned for 6 months, forming friendships that would last a lifetime, and working relationships that would provide the connections I needed to carry me through the lean times. During my internship I began to learn and understand the business side of the art. In fact I saw myself as the businessman, just as much as the artist. I also saw opportunity. Business is like the game of monopoly. When you land on opportunity you have a choice, You can choose to invest in a little green home, rent out that home and receive additional income, and eventually turn your little home into a large red hotel. Some players choose to keep their money. That might feel safe in the short term, but in the long run they pay, little by little, and eventually lose the game. To take advantage of that opportunity requires sacrifice. I was willing to sacrifice. My plan was to buy lights and cameras, little “homes” that I could rent out on every job. I was willing do live a simpler life in the short term, so I had more money to invest in my future. I was willing to work harder than everyone else, to spend more time in preparation than anyone else, to be the first one to set and the last one to leave. Kind of like Tom Brady. We have a lot in common 🙂
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I own a 5 ton lighting and grip truck, and several high end camera packages, such as the Arri Alexa. My goal has been to equip creatives with high quality video and film production equipment at fair and affordable prices. I have also endeavoured to package that gear in the most efficient way possible which saves my clients time and money. With a large corporation it is all about the return on investment. It is much more than that for me. When I walk away at the end of the day I want my clients to know that I had skin in the game. I love to see the satisfaction Directors and Directors of Photography receive when I provide the tools they need to create beautiful moving images. Often times I supply much more than they could afford when going to the traditional rental house. Partnering with them in their success brings me satisfaction.
The road has been admittedly slow. I started at the bottom with just a van, then a van and trailer, and then a truck. Everything in this business is expensive and technology changes over night. Keeping up can be a huge challenge. In the interest of being relatable and transparent, as we speak, I carry a large amount of business debt. But debt is the cost of pursuing opportunity, and lost opportunity is often costlier than a high interest rate. For example, starting out I financed much of my equipment through dollar buyout leases. These are essentially high interest rate loans which extend more credit to you than you might qualify for through a conventional loan. But If that is the only way to stay in play, for me it was better to take the deal, and be active with my time building my clientele and my reputation. Ask yourself, what is the cost of that lost opportunity?
We are very fortunate here in Los Angeles to get to collaborate with some of the most talented and creative people in the industry. That is a true honor. As a team, we sometimes jump through fiery hoops together and accomplish goals that a very difficult to achieve. We often feels anxious and impatient when so much is at stake. When this ride is over I hope that my colleagues will look back and say that I was a kind man, an encourager, and a friend.
More important to me than financial success are the relationships I build along the way. Our time here on earth is very limited.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My heart is in the beach communities of South Orange County. When I am not working I can be found on my hydrofoil at Nukes in San Onofre, playing with my dog Lucy on the beach at dogpatch, camping at Camp Pendleton, or listening to live music under the stars at The Cliff Restaurant in Laguna. When you cross the Orange County line the freeway gets wider, the houses and buildings get newer, the landscape is greener and the beaches are cleaner. Huntington and Newport are great tourist destinations if you are looking for bar, and Laguna is a fantastic romantic getaway on date night, but my heart is in San Clemente. That where van life lives begins, it’s where you see families on the beaches and dads surfing with their children. If I had visitors I would walk the Huntington Beach pier and then eat at the Aloha Grill. The next day I would ride the ferry from Lido isle to Newport and have lunch watching the yachts from Lido Island Village. The following day I would chill at Shaws cove and or Crescent bay in Laguna, maybe jump into a pickup game of 2 man beach volleyball at Main Beach Laguna, have a drink at The Rooftop Lounge and then dinner and music at The Cliff. My final day I would pack a cooler and surfboards and spend the day at San Onofre. It fills up quick so you either get there early or you ride in on an ebike. If you are lucky you could find a fire pit and watch the sunset beyond Catalina while the surfers catch their last waves in last light of dusk.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to thank Al Moore, who was my first boss during my internship. He was both my mentor and my encourager. Dave and Cindy Bright who loaned me my first $13,000 in a handshake deal. They believed in me. You better believe I made those payments on time! And finally an extra special thank you to that judge in Okmulgee Oklahoma. The crack of his gavel could have changed the course of my life, but he extended mercy to reckless and wild hooligan. I’m guessing that he must have been a teenager once too.