We had the good fortune of connecting with Suren Seron and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Suren, what principle do you value most?
Honesty and Integrity. To me, these are the same principle and totally synonymous. You simply can’t have (or live by) one without the other. We are living in perhaps the most dishonest and deceitful period in American History. It is utterly shameful. For myself and many others in our country, it seems as if everywhere you turn, half-truths or simply outright lies dominate or at least penetrate and influence so many aspects of our national and individual character. This extends to seriously unscrupulous business practices that have permeated many of our core industries, especially the financial sector, as well as many of our entertainment, communication, and cultural industries. The values of many cultural and political icons and influencers we look to for guidance and leadership have become questionable at best while often totally polluted and devoid of any ethics or morality at worst. While not being held completely responsible or fully exonerated from this, the media and especially social media have fanned these flames for far too long without any ramifications or repercussions. I was taught what honesty and integrity mean and shown by example through the careers and daily interactions my father and mother had with others. For decades my father took a third-generation small business and successfully grew it, always taking care of his employees and making sure he could do any job he asked them to. He paid his bills on time and treated every customer with respect. My mother served many terms on our local Board of Education, a duty and responsibility she took very seriously as a publicly elected official. When I came home from elementary school, she was there. Home cooked family dinners and lively discussions were the norm for our family. The things we watched and read, whether it was local news or the local newspaper, we discussed and shared our opinions on. Asking questions and learning were never discouraged. Being a Seron meant being an educated person of integrity with your word being your bond, both in public and in private. I feel this value is lost on many young entrepreneurs who are only concerned with startup stardom and quick financial gain. I do not believe you have to make a choice being doing good and doing well to be successful in this world. And perhaps it means we must redefine exactly what success means. I believe the success of Stray Angel Films has shown that you can in fact do both. While I may not be a millionaire, I sleep well with the decisions I have made along with the rest of the leadership and management at the company. I respectfully uphold my duties to my company, my fellow owners, my customers, and to all my employees. I would challenge every CEO, leader, or influencer to ask themselves if these principles truly matter to them and if they can honestly say the decisions they have made and actions they have taken truly reflect them. The world we live in is ultimately the world we help create and we must constantly challenge ourselves and others to improve.
What should our readers know about your business?
Stray Angel Films focuses on creating a premium customer experience including offering special extended hours, pickups and returns all over Los Angeles with our dedicated delivery vehicles, as well as many other boutique rental services. We provide all types of production gear inventory, all available from one location. Whether a customer needs G&E, lighting, lenses, cameras, sound gear, or any other type of set or production equipment, Stray Angel will stock it. If a customer needs private studio space to film, we provide that as well onsite. Our focus is on making miracles happen, even for large last minute or complicated orders. SAF originally sought to solve the problem of providing transparent and fair equipment rental pricing in the film equipment rental market and online. We set our prices and publish them, something many of our competitors still do not. We also have one of the most complete catalogs of the most popular and in-demand latest camera and accessory equipment from all major categories, fully published and updated on the internet to drive success for both our business and our customers. By allowing both large company procurement departments to find our inventory along with indie filmmakers, we provide the same resources and level of service for everyone. Through standardizing and modernizing the film equipment booking and rental process along with insurance and damage waivers, we have been able to streamline many operations and the paperwork process to run fast and lean, yet always making sure our customers receive top notch service at all times. Along with my partner Josh Burrows, we have grown the company to achieve revenues in excess of $5,000,000 a year, operate a successful 7000 sq foot rental and production facility, including a fully featured professional cyc soundstage, and during the worst economic disaster in a century, rehire the majority of our staff to continue fulfilling demand and safely servicing our loyal customers while also protecting our employees and their jobs. That’s all the boiler plate jazz. The real story is how we did it. While not going into too many examples, the company was started with a stack of credit cards and through decades of reinvesting profits, was able to eventually own millions of dollars’ worth of gear by being smart and scrappy, leveraging low or no interest equipment financing with savvy internet SEO skills and unique technologies. The hardest part of each year was sacrificing personal gain by instead reinvesting in the business. Although it was not an easy road, filled with perils and bumps along the way, eventually we got to where we wanted to be. Perseverance pays off, but you must constantly modernize and adapt. Pivoting was a buzz word a decade or two ago, but now it is a way of life. Companies that cannot bend and sway with the current business climate will not be able to withstand change. Sadly, so many great businesses and local brands are now gone across the country, victims of the pandemic. It almost destroyed our business as well, but we huddled right away and applied the same scrappy principles we built the company on. By swiftly reacting and adapting we were able to pivot immediately, leverage every resource available and temporarily hibernate, ultimately reopening stronger than ever when it was safe. Creating an impactful brand is just as much about strength as it is about ingenuity. Long term value and stability is derived from many areas, not simply last year’s net profits.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would put them on a plane back home unless they wanted to enjoy seven socially distant quarantined nights of the best Postmates has to offer. As this was interview is being conducted during November of 2020 when the coronavirus as at its peak for the year, this is clearly not the time to be encouraging any of these activities at this time. Although once a food lover’s paradise to explore, being out and about in Los Angeles is not where you want to be at this time. Encouraging trendy urban and culinary exploration is in my opinion unethical and violates best practices and pubic policy for the health and safety of everyone at this time. Being outside at a local restaurant or other trendy venue does not mean you are no longer at risk whether or not you are wearing a mask. You are honestly rolling the dice every time. I would encourage everyone at this time to explore nature and enjoy parks off peak times , take quiet walks, and spend time on themselves until the darkness lifts.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Shoutout goes to my family. They have stood by me every step of the way and provided me with guidance and an open ear every step of the way. What I have built would not be possible without their love and unwavering support.