October 2, 2012
Alexander Film & Video Services, which specialized in the transfer of film and video to digital platforms, closed its doors Monday — the end of a business whose roots date to a 1920s company that was an advertising giant for decades and operated a movie studio in Colorado Springs that was one of the world’s largest.
Owner John Kunze said his business has suffered for years as customers cut back on their purchases of film and video transfer services because of the bad economy. Meanwhile, he battled national retailers who offered similar services. Kunze once had eight employees, but was down to one at the time of this week’s closing.
“You’ve got Walgreens and Wal-Mart, and they’re also doing digitizing transfers,” he said. “So we try and compete with them. It’s just to the point where I can’t keep it going. The revenues have dropped so much. We tried everything you can imagine to revive it. But it’s just tough times.”
Kunze owned Alexander for the past seven years, and the business had a reputation as a top local company for film and video transfers. Alexander also produced videos of family and corporate events, while offering broadcast duplication services, among other features.
But many families tightened their belts when the economy slumped, he said.
“If they’re having tough times or one of them is underemployed or lost their jobs, I don’t think their worry is getting their films or movies transferred,” Kunze said.
Likewise, universities, schools and other business customers trimmed their budgets. A Christian ministry used Alexander to duplicate its in-house produced broadcasts, and then sent them to TV stations around the country. When the ministry saw its donations drop because of the economy, it stopped using Alexander for its duplication services.
Kunze said his most recent annual revenues were about one-third of what they were several years ago.
The domed-shaped building that Kunze owns at 1414 N. Academy Blvd., which houses the business, fell into foreclosure in August and is due to be sold at an El Paso County Public Trustee’s auction Dec. 12.
Kunze doesn’t know if he might declare bankruptcy, and left open the possibility of selling the company.
“It’s still an active business. There’s just less than there used to be,” Kunze said.
Customers are being called and asked to come to the business, 1414 N. Academy Blvd., by Friday to retrieve film and video items they had dropped off or to pick up work the company had completed, Kunze said.
After Friday, Kunze said he planned to post a phone number on the building door to alert customers how they could pick up their items.
Alexander’s film and video transfer service was a successor to the Alexander Film Co., which was a dominant player in film advertising from its headquarters in Colorado Springs.
Brothers J. Don and Don M. Alexander founded an electrical company in Spokane, Wash., in 1919 that grew into a business that sold and filmed advertisements airing in movie theaters before the showing of motion pictures — similar to ads seen in theaters today.
As the business took off, the Alexanders moved to Englewood in 1923 and to the Springs five years later. They occupied 26 acres on Nevada Avenue, north of Fillmore Street, to house the film company.
According to Kunze’s website for Alexander Film & Video, the original Alexander Film Co. headquarters on North Nevada had “32 full-size motion picture sets, modern film and audio laboratories, a sound recording department, an art department capable of creating cartoon animation, stop motion, backgrounds and other special movie effects, an engineering department and a full service print shop.”
J. Don Alexander died in 1955; by the early 1960s, Don M. Alexander had retired. In 1967, the company stopped producing film and became a film processing lab for Hollywood studios and reproduced film for companies.
Alexander’s North Nevada headquarters building was torn down to make way for a bank, while KKTV/Channel 11 bought the soundstages and converted them into a TV station.
The Pikes Peak Library District has a section devoted to Alexander Film, including photographs, correspondence and many of the company’s commercials and documentaries. Kunze said he owns memorabilia such as old films, commercials, advertising props and a sign that hung on the front door of Alexander’s main lab.
He’s holding on to the items for now, and also retains the rights to the company’s website domain — alexanderfilm.com.
Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen
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