Small Business Week: ‘When you are excited about something and you have a passion for it, it makes it a fun challenge to take on’

By Lindsay Ducharme
Dan Sorensen is not the type of business owner who watches from the sidelines. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a customer of Photomagic Fotosource who hasn’t had the pleasure of experiencing Sorensen’s excellent customer service.

In the era of digital images and big box competitors, Sorensen’s unique form of business operation has managed to keep Photomagic thriving for the past 23 years.

“We’ve always been a leader in respects to technology, not just in Fort McMurray, but the whole photo industry. When we saw something new we knew it was best to be the first on board and try to get that new product or technology out. That gave us the opportunity for us to give our customers things that they weren’t even getting in the city at that time until later when they caught up to us. That’s been a nice thing to do and I think it’s allowed us to maintain our customer base. That’s helped keep us in the game,” Sorensen explained.

“When you are excited about something and you have a passion for it, especially with business, it makes it a fun challenge to take it on,” he added.

Sorensen, who had a background in construction and property management prior to jumping into the photo game, has always been one to embrace technology, even from the very beginning. It was technology itself that allowed an opportunity for him to open his store in the first place.

“At the time the industry was changing to one hour labs when it used to be dip and dunks. The fellow that had that business was closing down and retiring, he wasn’t interested in spending the huge amount of money it would cost to get into the new age of photo printing, so that gave the opportunity for us to check it out and give it a try,” he recalled.

“It was a learning curve. I was taking courses at Keyano on business so it was a whole new world for me, but I had a lot of support.”

Now, 23 years later, Sorensen is continuing to support the community that has supported him. In fact, he counts community involvement amongst the most rewarding aspects of running a small business. “It’s probably double the hours you would have if you had a regular job. Unfortunately it’s probably half the pay you’d get at a regular job, but the rewarding part is it’s something you built yourself. You get a chance to see your hard work paying off and the business succeeding. Because of that you are in the forefront, you meet a whole bunch of people and that allows opportunities to get involved in other ways in the community, that’s the exciting part.”

Sorensen has faced his fair share of hurdles along the way, the same he believes all small business owners across the region face – finding and keeping staff and dealing with seemingly never ending rent increases, however, he has always had employees who support his vision, an aspect he believes has made all the difference.

“It’s about having the right team around you all the time. Although it’s been challenging I’ve been very lucky to have a great crew around me that’s definitely given me the chance to expand in other areas and have them help pick up where you leave off. If you have people that care about what you care about, it will be a positive thing for your business.”