SHADOWS AND HIGHLIGHTS 2
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TCCC Member in the NEWS
Life Member John Penrod Honored for 50 years in business
Twin City Camera Club Life Member John Penrod was honored this fall for 50 years in business. The Penrod/Hiawatha Company that John started in 1958, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Family, friends, past and present employees, surprised John with a party at Shemmy’s Restaurant in Berrien Center. John's son, TCCC member Dan Penrod, said the party was a great success and that John, who thought he was joining some out of town friends for lunch, was really surprised. Among the gifts and tributes that John received were plaques and certificates from Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Congressman Fred Upton and U.S. Senator Carl Levin recognizing John and The Penrod/Hiawatha Company.
The Party at Shemmy’s Restaurant in Berrien Center was a real treat for John as shown in the upper two photos. The photo in the lower right is son Mike Penrod, John, Daughter-in-Law Ellen Penrod (Dan's wife) and son Dan Penrod. John holding a gift from his employees in the lower left photo that has this poem:
For 'Fifty' Years with camera in hand
You've traveled many miles 'cross this land
If and when you retire and rest
These gorgeous employees (and Brian) wish you the best.
John has the longest continuous membership in the Twin City Camera Club. When he joined in 1952 he was working in construction as a plasterer. John’s photographic skills served him well in the club competitions where he won Print of the Year in 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, and 1965. John was the Print Point Champion in 1958 and 1961. John also was the President of TCCC in 1958. It seems a lot of good things were going on in John’s life in 1958. John has always said his involvement with TCCC played a very important role in his development as a photographer and that helped him build a very successful business.
In 1958 John Penrod transformed a couple of his black and white photographs of Berrien Springs, Michigan into 3 ½” x 5 ½” post cards and began a rewarding and successful adventure into post card sales as Penrod Studios. Going door to door in the town’s business district he found it was quite easy to sell his cards at the rate of 1000 cards for $25.00. The following year he took a three month leave from his job as a plasterer and produced ten more post cards of the area. Enjoying this endeavor so much he never returned to his old job.
These are copies of the two original cards that started it all.
They are of a 1958 snowstorm in Berrien Springs.
first, John and his wife, Alice, did everything themselves. As the business
began to grow they recruited their children to help and it became a family
project producing the cards and selling them from the back of their vans.
The first accordion folder of John’s photographs was added to the post cards in 1962 setting the stage for future additions to the line of products the company would carry.
By 1968 John was traveling and photographing local scenes in the Holland and Manistee, Michigan areas enabling him to enlarge his customer base and increase sales. Also in this same year he produced his first Michigan pictorial book featuring his photos.
1969 brought the acquisition of the Hiawatha Card Company of Northern Michigan expanding the distribution area into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The names of the two companies were merged to become Penrod/Hiawatha. As the company grew so did the variety of products that were offered. The size of local view post cards was increased to 4” x 6” and sold for 10 cents each. In addition custom brochures were added to the printed line and a variety of other souvenir items were being offered. With the increase of the product line and sales, selling directly from vans was no longer viable. Sales representatives were hired and shipping direct from the warehouse was begun.
The first 10” x 8” Penrod/Hiawatha calendar, featuring John Penrod’s local scene photographs, was produced in 1972. This calendar is now in its 37th year of continuous printing changing photos each year to feature scenes from the entire state of Michigan.
With an eye to the future, Penrod/Hiawatha purchased Harvey Studios in 1975 which allowed the company to move sales into Indiana.
Then with the expansion of the balance of the Hiawatha Company, the company extended into the Detroit and east side of the state of Michigan in 1978.
As the company grew so did the variety of products being offered. Penrod/Hiawatha now offers local scene souvenirs for three states, Michigan Indiana and Ohio. The items offered include a wide range of local view post cards, calendars, pictorial travel books, stationary products, key rings, magnets, ceramic and glassware items and many other specialty souvenir items. Going forward the goal of the company is to continually improve the product base while providing the best customer service available in the industry.
Dan said the these cards were also produced in 1958, later in the year and they have the original card numbers and titles at the bottom. The deep rich colors that John always strived for and that made his photos stand out from the rest, didn't survive over the years on these postcards but we're thankful that we got to see them. Thanks Dan, for sharing, it's been a real treat to see them.
This Card # 11202-B, Dan says, pictured on the left is my sister Jennie (Tootsie)
The old Napier bridge can be seen in the background on the left.
The Blossom Parade in downtown Benton Harbor
If you've wondered why John always looks so tan and healthy, maybe it's because John spends the winter half of each year in his other business, working as a self-employed commercial fisherman in the Florida Keys near Key West. If you have eaten Snappers, Groupers, Yellow Tail or Mackerel in any of the restaurants from Key Largo to Key West, you may have dined on some of John's fish.
"Wish You Were Here" As the Postcards always say.
We'll be looking forward to seeing you again...
Additional SHADOWS AND HIGHLIGHTS - Archive Pages:
- Life Member John Penrod Honored for 50 years in business - You are Here
- Death of Member Don Hunt
- Death of Life Member Richard "Dick" Lyon
- They call them Megagraphics
- Amber and her Gorilla
- Ken McKeown featured in local publication
- Lauren Strach featured in local paper
- Curtis Drake featured in local paper
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