HR Imaging Partners
Over 30 years, HR Imaging Partners Inc. has become a trusted partner of school districts throughout the Midwest. When the pandemic closed schools, the effect struck HR Imaging as a perfect storm. Without the schools open, the primary mission of the company could not be fulfilled. School districts rely on the company for identification cards in the fall. In the spring, the company publishes the annual yearbooks. Parents purchase photography packages in the fall and spring. Without students in the hallways, the photographers on the team had no subjects to photograph.
Dan Reynolds had kept tabs on the services of the Illinois SBDC at the Starved Rock Alliance through the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. When the pandemic cut into all the income streams of HR Imaging Partners, he reached out to Amy Lambert, executive director, for guidance on accessing stimulus funds from the SBA. Lambert referred him to business advisor T.J. Templeton, an expert on loan programs through the SBA. After several sessions with Lambert and Templeton, Reynolds was able to lead his financial team to develop successful applications for several programs.
The funding helped the business navigate the unusual 2020 - 2021 school year. “Without the help of the SBA and the SBDC, many businesses would have failed,” testified Reynolds. The year brought with it scheduling and cash flow challenges. Usually, the business can handle the photography schedule in three months. Instead, the team needed ten months to take student pictures at schools where the business serves. Many yearbooks arrived with all of the students posing with face masks over their smiles. Over the period, the business held onto half its staff of professional photographers, down from a usual force of more than two hundred.
For Reynolds, the 2021 - 2022 school year promises to be a new normal that looks like traditional years. Reynolds reflects on the lessons learned while documenting one of the front lines of the pandemic. “Now that Covid-19 has taught us that the unexpected can happen, pictures from now on will be a little more treasured.”