The last project I worked on at Creative Memories was a plan to manufacture digital photo products for other vendors, taking advantage of the Creative Memories Manufacturing and Distribution Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Creative Memories produced high quality photo books, calendars, and photo panels, and demand for these products was increasing throughout the photo industry.
By 2012, Creative Memories had significant excess capacity, and the company could not survive unless sales increased. The empty space in the Creative Memories Manufacturing and Distribution Center was evident to all. It was also clear to me and a few others that despite heroic efforts, the direct sales approach was unlikely to generate the required sales.
Operations recognized these concerns and in early 2012 offered me a position as Director of Digital Research and New Opportunities, with a goal of finding new markets for Creative Memories digital photo products. I had some early successes offering photo books to a small company in Minneapolis, as well as supplying products to Creative Memories in Australia; however, it quickly became clear that a more concerted and focused marketing effort was required. This project needed a name, a web site, and a presence at various trade shows. To succeed Creative Memories would have to leverage Creative Memories’ history and experience in the photo industry.
I settled on the name Creative Memories Press, created a web site, and registered for several trade shows. I also believed in transparency. I did not want to hide the fact that Creative Memories was offering products through other vendors, believing that the overall success of Creative Memories would benefit all, including Creative Memories Consultants.
Unfortunately, this plan never had the support of the entire Creative Memories executive team. The executive team outside of operations still believed in a miracle happening that would generate success within the direct sales industry.
When I launched the Creative Memories Press web site, a phone call from an upset Creative Memories Consultant to one of the company executives ended the entire plan. Creative Memories shut down the effort and cancelled plans to participate in industry trade shows. Fortunately, I had seen the situation coming and had received another job offer. On September 4, 2012, I left Creative Memories, realizing that another bankruptcy was inevitable.
On April 16, 2013, Creative Memories again filed for bankruptcy. Could Creative Memories Press have prevented this bankruptcy? I don’t know, but I would like to think so.