profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities
No. 27 in a continuing series
Manager, Northern Region, ETC Europe
Copenhagen-born Tim Stokholm trained in business administration and commerce. His first job was in sales and marketing in the stills photographic industry, and as a natural progression, after a couple of years he moved to Bico, where one of the Danish distributor's divisions dealt directly with end users from the film and television markets.
The main products were Arri lighting and film cameras and it was this move that got Tim hooked into "our wonderful business!" At a trade show in 1987, Tim Burnham of Arri GB was showing the first Arri consoles - the Imagine and the Image. Having heard about the consoles, he asked Tim to demonstrate them to him. "I shall never forget his opening line: 'This is a DMX console'. I had to ask him what DMX was!"
Undaunted, Tim organized the purchase a couple of consoles and started to teach himself how to use them. Gradually he became an expert and could tell you anything you wanted to know about them in his sleep. By 1997 Bico had sold over 75 Arri/ETC systems - pretty good going for a country as small as Denmark! "My sales method at the time, especially where AVAB was strong, was to ask the operator which function he couldn't live without," explained Tim. "I then made a macro to carry out the required function and . . . bingo! My nickname at the time was Macro Man - but we sold a lot of consoles!"
In 1994 Tim arranged a management buy-out in Bico and was managing director until 1997 when ETC, which had opened a European office two years before, approached him to join them as sales manager for Scandinavia and Benelux. People who didn't know him thought he was crazy to leave Bico - but his friends and colleagues knew that by nature he was an entrepreneur - and his heart belonged to ETC. Later on in 1999 Fred (Foster) asked him to take on the role of Sales and Marketing Director for Europe, including Africa and the Middle East. In order to do that, he had to move to London. At the time Fred was just returning to the States having worked in Europe for the previous year and the day Tim arrived in London Fred gave him the keys to his apartment and his office and an A-Z. During the next year-and-a-half the European business grew by over 40%. It was hard work, with 16hr days and a lot of travelling - and Tim never got round to using the A-Z!
After 18 months of living away from home, he decided to return to Copenhagen to be closer to his sons Frederik and Nikolaj, and became ETC's Regional Manager for the countries north of the Alps. This was, and still is, a huge task, developing all the various entertainment areas, including TV, cruise ships, theme park, restaurants, etc.
When Tim sat down to plan his career all those years ago, his goal was to manage a big industrial company, but he didn't have a specific area of business in mind. He simply wanted to have a lot of responsibility, and to use his analytical and people skills strategically. The only criteria he gave himself was to have fun and work with the best.
"I'm lucky to have met both criteria," explained Tim. "Fun is definitely not a problem in our business; we all need to be an entertainer to be part of it. It's a very social and friendly business and once you're in it, it's very difficult to leave. I'm also very privileged to work with the best manufacturer in the business. Quality is a key word for me. It means that the customer should feel that it was a good experience to work with me and wants to work with me again.
"But what of the future?" asks Tim. "Where is this business of ours going? Are the features of a product there to suit the manufacturer's marketing needs or because the customers want them? Will our customers purchasing patterns change to e-business? What influence will political and religious issues have over our global and local business? All these questions and more are constantly being asked, as change happens all around us. I think we may see companies close, as too many focus on price alone, but new businesses will grow and hopefully have a different market focus.
"For me, there is room for everybody - but everybody doesn't have to be in the same room!"
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