John Larkin, GM of KTVZ-21 was right. Within a year or so of being sold in 1997, pretty much every management position at KTVZ turned over, including the GM. Launching Visual Thinking turned out to be terrifying, but a pretty good call. We got an emerging business loan from Deschutes County and used it to buy the latest in video production gear. We spent $28,000 on a Sony BetaCam- the best quality camera available then, and one of the first digital video editing systems in existence. That beast took up an entire room and cost us $40,000! By the time we got rolling, we’d spent almost $100K; we figured we’d have to get 2 bucks from every resident in Deschutes County to pay the debt! (Spoiler alert: We paid off the debt)
Loyal clients were paying the bills: All Seasons RV, The Riverhouse, Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, The Mattress Factory, Smolich Motors and others wanted better-looking TV commercials than KTVZ could produce, and Visual Thinking sported the latest cool video toys. The concept of sales video was just taking off; one of our first big corporate video productions was for Romtec, Inc, based in Glide, OR. They made vault toilets. Yeah, outhouses. On our first shoot we joked about how “business was in the toilet”, and “stinkin’ thinkin’, etc. They were not amused. 3 years later, when we showed up for another big shoot, the principals in the company were all driving new cars and big 4WD pickups and yukking it up about “how sh***y business was”. Our sales videos had helped sell 12,000 Romtec SSTs (Sweet Smelling Toilet) to the Forest Service. You see them everywhere today. We were no longer just a Bend Video Production Company, we were officially an Oregon camera crew!