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SQUAWK box: The more things change…

It's usually the giant moves that get tongues wagging in the industry: the mega-mergers, the takeovers or the big hires and fires. So it's nice to know that consistency can also be a key to success. For instance, Toronto's Ellis Entertainment was founded over 40 years ago as a distribution and production company, and president and ceo Stephen Ellis says, 'One of the ironies of being in a business where you have to re-invent yourself all the time is that we're basically doing things the same way they were being done in 1964, when my dad started the company. It's a little scary, but the fact is that it just works.'
April 1, 2007

It’s usually the giant moves that get tongues wagging in the industry: the mega-mergers, the takeovers or the big hires and fires. So it’s nice to know that consistency can also be a key to success. For instance, Toronto’s Ellis Entertainment was founded over 40 years ago as a distribution and production company, and president and ceo Stephen Ellis says, ‘One of the ironies of being in a business where you have to re-invent yourself all the time is that we’re basically doing things the same way they were being done in 1964, when my dad started the company. It’s a little scary, but the fact is that it just works.’

In order to ‘kick things up a notch,’ Ellis says he’s diversified genres of production over the past few years. Historically known for nature and wildlife, it has added faith-based programming and steady streams of history and science.

Still, says Ellis, ‘We’re trying to hang on to the family owned business model as long as we can in terms of trying to organically generate our growth.’

Towers Productions in Chicago is also true to its nearly 20-year-old roots. ‘We sort of do things the way we’ve always done them,’ says founder and president Jonathan Towers. ‘We haven’t really changed the way we try to get business – there’s no change in philosophy there.’

That being said, the roughly 60-person company has widened the number of channels with which it works and has strengthened its entertainment offerings. ‘Diversification has been a key to our growth,’ says Towers.

Ellis can relate. ‘Every time you pick up a trade magazine, there are things you realize are changing the way you should be doing business,’ he says. ‘At the same time, we haven’t changed a lot in terms of what we do – a lot of our original game plan from way back in the ’60s still applies.’ With his company’s production output and distribution catalog both doubling over the past few years, seems that plan is still working.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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