Southpoint Photo Imaging Supplies, Inc., has been a leader in the imaging marketplace since 1990, providing an ever-expanding product portfolio for its traditional and digital photography customers.
From its corporate office and main warehouse in Dallas, Texas—and its regional warehouses in Rochester, New York, and Carson, California—this family-owned business serves the steadily evolving needs of photo labs, portrait studios, sports and event photographers, printshops, the fine art market, and government and military accounts, e.g., crime scene and forensic departments.
“We’re kind of all across the board,” says Sean Souri, vice president and general manager. “We specialize in the prosumer to professional market and sell B2B for the most part. The majority of our business is in the U.S., but we also have sales in Mexico and Canada. Our customers do volume print production. If someone needs a solution for producing a big poster print or out putting large amounts of 8x10s, those are also popular landing spots for us.”
Southpoint: Ahead of the Curve
Southpoint Photo’s origins date back to 1983, when Bruce Souri launched his first photo lab. It expanded into a chain during the 1980s.
“By the early ’90s, when it seemed there was a photo lab on every corner, my dad began wholesaling and distributing photographic products from the back of one of the labs he operated,” says Sean. “Around 1990, he established Southpoint Photo as a fully invested distribution business and sold off all his retail labs.” Kodak was the first company to offer Southpoint Photo rights to resell their products, “which enabled our company to flourish and made it a landing spot for all other partners we have,” adds Sean.
“When I came into the company around 1999, there were just three of us—my dad, myself and another sales representative. Today, we are a corporation with Executive Management, Operations Management, Marketing, Inside/Outside Sales reps, a dedicated Customer Service team, Product Management/Support as well as multiple shipping departments.”
Southpoint is Kodak’s largest reseller in the U.S. for traditional lab supplies, including paper, chemicals, film, kiosks and media.
The company is also a Platinum reseller for Fujifilm North America for paper, chemicals, film, dry lab media and equipment.
In addition, it has valued partnerships with Epson, Unisub/ChromaLuxe, Canon, Noritsu, CPAC, Champion, Sawgrass and Mitsubishi.
Furthermore, it has developed a premium private-label wide-format inkjet paper, Aquasolv, along with ProVersa, a paper for new dry lab technologies.
A growing part of the business is dye sublimation. “We sell all the inks, blank substrates and printers associated with promotional items. They include mugs, aluminum panels and plaques, water bottles, ornaments and T-shirts. We are seeing 20%–30% growth in this area, year over year,” says Sean. “Even with all the product options we offer, if we don’t carry something a customer wants, we say, ‘Just ask us and we’ll do our best to have it available for your next order.’”
Today’s “Amazon” world has caused Southpoint to address the issue of free shipping. Their solution: If a company orders photo lab products or if special handling is required for chemicals or heavy photo papers, those orders will typically require a high threshold—between $1,000 and $1,500 depending on location—to qualify for free shipping.
However, orders involving a couple of inkjet papers or inks that are small have a threshold as low as $100 for free shipping.
Adds Cliff Smith, Southpoint’s director of Marketing since 2004: “One reason for the company’s success is we’ve been careful to not overextend. We’ve never gone too big too fast. When we did try to get involved in certain markets, thinking there was synergy with our business, we soon recognized it was best not to deviate from our comfort zone. In addition, by having three strategic warehouse locations, we are able to cover most of the U.S. in one to two business days.”
Exploring New Opportunities
“I don’t know what the future holds for us,” Sean reflects. “We have seen a lot of competitors go under, make poor choices, give away the farm. But we’re a survivor. You could probably count on one hand how many people are left who do what we do.
“We may not be the cheapest or most economical, but we’re fair. And the level of service we provide is second to none. Our plan is to be consistent, to stay focused on what we do best and to look at any potential partners, acquisitions or hires that make sense for us down the line.”
A direct competitor used to tell vendors they have in common that Southpoint Photo is a supermarket of supplies. Sean’s response: “It was meant in a negative way, that we’re not brand loyal. But I take it as a compliment. We present all products equally and fairly, to offer our customers everything we need to be their ‘One-Stop Shopping Solution.’
If we don’t, we risk losing customers to someone who has what they’re looking for. Sorry, not sorry.”