Semper Gumby! Getting to know Kyle Walker, Photographic Production Manager at H&H Color Lab
As part of the monthly blog posts about our customers, we’ve also chose to include interviews with our staff so you can get to know them better. This month, Georgia interviews Kyle Walker, Photographic Production Manager for H&H Color Lab.
Georgia: Can you tell me a little about your background?
Kyle: I’m a military brat, but I was raised in California, and enlisted in the Marines in 1998 after high school. In the Marines, you take an aptitude test and based on your score, you get a selection of options called MOS (Military Occupational Specialties). I have always been creative and attracted to graphic arts, and when I got my choice of MOS, I chose Combat Photographer. Later, after the Marines, I ended up in Kansas through a string of opportunities. In 2005, a friend of mine put me in touch with H&H Color Lab. I joined the team as a digital re-toucher and since then worked my way up to production management.
Georgia: What positions have you had while working at H&H?
Kyle: Well I started out in digital retouching. Then I spent about a year as an assistant manager. Later there was a restructuring of positions for efficiencies and I spent 7 years as night shift manager. This past year I’ve been day shift manager.
Georgia: I bet you like day shift!
Kyle: Oh yeah, it’s great, I have so much more time to spend with my family and my photography business that I run on the side in my “free time” [chuckling].
Georgia: Tell me about your current position and your department:
Kyle: I manage the small print production area; we’re responsible for prints 11”x14” or smaller and all professional and school and event sales. It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re printing and assembling on time and following all the set standards. I’m always on the watch for cleanliness and organization of the work stations, keeping my team in good spirits and making sure we’re rocking and rolling on all cylinders.
Georgia: How many people are in your department?
Kyle: It’s seasonal of course, but at full capacity we’re running 15 cells with 2 individuals for a total of 30 people.
Georgia: I loved my visit at the plant where I got a chance to see the entire setup. Were you working at H&H when the cell concept was first introduced?
Kyle: I was. I had just gotten into management here when that was first implemented. You know H&H Color Lab prides itself on lean manufacturing, and that’s one of the things I’ve embraced – that we’re working as efficiently and lean as possible. Our goal is to do the most amount of work in the least amount of steps. Faster, better and cheaper than our competition. It’s been a tremendous cost savings for us; our waste is reduced and we’re incredibly efficient.
Georgia: Tell me what you love most about your job.
Kyle: The Company is awesome to work for – I fell in love here from day 1. The people are amazing and I’ve developed some great relationships and friendships. I think it’s a super environment where they’re here to help mold you into the best you can be. I always say “Semper Gumby” – Always flexible and moldable. That’s something I believe in – keep an open mind and be willing to accept change and you can’t be held back by anything!
Georgia: If you could pick 1 word to describe H&H to new customers, what would that be?
Kyle: “Phenomenal!” The kind of products we produce here are top-of-the-line. You look at other print options – and we blow them out of the water (of course I’m biased!)
Georgia: As a production manager, what question(s) do you think professional photographers should ask when choosing a professional lab?
Kyle: H&H prides itself on being faster, better and cheaper than its competition. I would ask the photographers, “Is your current lab successfully accomplishing those?” Or, if you want a lab that is faster, better and cheaper than the competition, you should definitely consider H&H.
Georgia: What is the most notable memory or highlight of your career so far at H&H?
Kyle: The day I interviewed with the company. I took a Photoshop test when I applied and I’ll never forget the day when Dave Brown asked our Retouch Trainer, “Do you think he’ll make it?” She replied, “I can work with him.” From that day forward, I had my eyes on the prize and worked hard.
Georgia: Kyle, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and I know our customers will too. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to chat with me.
Kyle: My pleasure Georgia!
Guest post by Georgia McCabe follow her on Google+ – As an author, speaker, trainer and social media and photography evangelist, her perspectives on social media appear in print in her newest book entitled “SocialMorphosis – Transforming Your Business through Social Media”. Georgia is also a co-author of the book “The Relationship Age”, with social media guru Mari Smith. Georgia is a frequent guest blogger for our professional photography lab.