Abridged version first published on Newsday’s Business magazine.
Thursday 18th February, 2016
It was such an adventure getting to know the Studioworks founder – Ken-Hong Mack over the past few months and a pleasure writing this article…which required a lot of research! We first met when I was planning my second book launch and upon the referral of a colleague, I walked into his studio after a presentation at a Rotary meeting a stone’s throw away.
I walked away with much more than a banner and memorabilia…but a friend who has proven himself time and time again. Without even knowing me, he tried to help me plan the details of the launch and get wine and cheese sponsored!
His story is such a fascinating and empowering journey, having been in business for over a decade and coming from humble beginnings which he attributed to his success. It wasn’t an easy road…but his credo is to live in the moment, take chances and make every moment count!
Read all about his journey here!
Studioworks Limited is all about adding tangible value to a customer’s experience. So says founder and Managing Director Ken-Hong Mack who prides himself in going the extra mile to ensure his clients are successful.
“It’s about building that bridge, being pro-active and following up with after-care to ensure that needs are met and clients have the necessary tools to be happy and productive in their personal or professional pursuits.”
Studioworks opened its doors to the public in 2003 and have survived by building meaningful relationships ensuring customer satisfaction after each transaction. The growth of his business seems to have been plucked divinely out of the great success stories you read about in international magazines.
Mack’s secret to success lies in listening to the cues, as well as strengthening procedures and protocols and investing in the right team who have all contributed in some way over the years. This level of customer service and dedication is attributed to his upbringing and values.
Born in Belmont, Trinidad of humble beginnings to a Chinese immigrant father and Afro-Trinidadian mother, Mack is quite proud of his mixed heritage and has fond memories of growing up in the 1970s with his eight brothers and sisters and helping in the family business.
As he remembers his morning and evening rituals of waking up early to prepare vegetables to make fried rice, as well as fishing and selling in the business at such a tender age, it makes him appreciate the importance of good family values and togetherness. “We did not have much, but we were happy with what we had and wanted for nothing.”
He credits his father for giving him the courage to venture into his own business as he recalls in the early days he knew very little English and still achieved success in his eyes. As an adult, his father’s words echo through his mind, “whatever you are doing, do it to the best of your ability.”
Today Mack’s motto is to always do the right things even when no one is looking. 12 years later his company still stands strong as a result of hard work, passion and commitment to those ideals.
The Early Days
The Studioworks founder recalls looking at the paintings in an art shop in Starlight Shopping Plaza as a child,
“It was then that I knew when I grew up, I wanted to be an artist. It hasn’t manifested in quite that way, but I use a different medium to bring my art to life which is my camera lens.”
As a teenager, his Dad had a friend who owned a video arcade and young Ken became an understudy learning all there was to know about maintaining the arcade machines. He soon became quite an expert and the owner wanted him to become a technician.
“There was a lot of money in it and I would have probably been a multi-millionaire today if I did, but I chose passion over money, now I wake up happy every day because I love my job.”
Not long after graduating from Belmont Intermediate at age 15, Mack got his first job at David’s Filmvue where he learnt the ins and outs of processing photos. He recalls with amazement the early days at his first job when he had to ply his car as taxi in order to pay the installments.
How the Dream Was Born
He worked at David’s Filmvue for 9 years then at Cyan Studios for another 9 years. One day he stood at a crossroads in his life and without planning his next move, he told his employers that the day had come for them to part ways.
He thought to himself that if his father could come to Trinidad without knowing any English and build a successful business, his chances were even greater. This motivated him to make his next step.
He walked out of Cyan studios and later that day got a phone call from a professor at The University of the West Indies who wanted corporate profiles done for staff.
This led to a family function at Hilton and blossomed into many other referrals from people who saw and loved his work. “My phone never stopped ringing and I was on call 24 hours a day.”
He registered his business under the name Ken Mack Studios and soon it expanded and he needed more space so later rented an office from a friend in Port-of-Spain.
As it grew he had to find a new home once again. He could not afford the exorbitant rent, but sacrificed and it all paid off.
His sister Mee Mee came on board as a director bringing a wealth of experience in advertising, creative design in photography and print. She was able to diversify their brand and add value to customers.
Now, with a staff of photographers and videographers, Mack decided to change the name to facilitate more buy-in from customers. The name Studioworks was inspired and adapted from a page in his sister’s magazine subscription.
Several moves later, his business now stands at 103 Cascade Road, Cascade. It has transitioned from dark room to digital, from still photography to videography…from corporate and private to industrial, commercial and aerial, adding digital imaging services including banners and printing works.
He is committed to adapting to the needs of his customers and giving them unmatched world class service and excellence.
Despite all his accomplishments, like many men, he says his proudest moment is when he held his daughter for the first time. There are four things he always wanted to do in his life which he once thought impossible: have a child, start his own business, own a boat and win the Great Race. He has done all four!
At 47 years of age, Ken-Hong Mack feels in his heart that he has accomplished all of his dreams because he was never afraid to dream and dream big.
He looks back on his life with pride having ascended from humble beginnings to owning his own business, traveling the world, pursuing his passion and having a beautiful daughter.
He recalls an emotional experience when he stumbled upon a DVD “The Secret” years ago.
As tears streamed down his face as he watched the screen, he realized the Law of Attraction was responsible for him transforming his thoughts (even as far back as six years old) into reality, relying on his faith, stepping into the unknown and starting his business.
Mack declares that he lives his life by strong moral values over material wealth. The legacy he wishes to leave his daughter is to train her mind to be happy with whatever she has and provide her with the tools to create her own legacy.
He concludes our interview with a humble smile and says,
“The most important things in life are worth the sacrifice, because then you would have no regrets when your time on this earth is done. I’m glad I chose photography because your memories will always live on.”