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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
Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at mkashty@brunico.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty

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