Memories captured on old technology are gathering dust in attics, closets and garages across the country. In the season of New Year's resolutions, organizing and digitizing is on lots of to-do lists, says Nick Macco, co-founder of media conversion company Southtree.
"We do see a spike in the New Year, and another one around spring cleaning," Macco says. "It's a thing that everybody knows they need to do and just haven't done it yet."
Macco and his business partner Adam Boeselager officially founded Southtree in 2009, though the business really began in 2006, when they were college students at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, transferring VCR tapes to DVDs in their garage.
Since those early days, the company has grown to 150 employees, and expects to be at 200 in 2020, Macco says. Employees ship about 2,500 orders a week from the Holtzclaw Avenue headquarters, and the company has preserved and digitized the memories of more than 500,000 families all over the country.
In 2013, they launched Legacybox, a branch of Southtree that provides consumers with four package options and all the materials they need to easily label and ship their media.
"What drives us is we want to be growth-oriented and learners," Macco says. "If something's uncomfortable, we lean into it."
In 2016, the company was named one of "America's Fastest Growing Companies" by Inc. Magazine. Goop, the luxury lifestyle website launched by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, recently featured the business in its men's holiday gift guide. Macco and Boeselager have appeared on the Home Shopping Network and QVC to promote Southtree, which has also been called "Best Memory Keeper" by Good Housekeeping Magazine, "A Must Have" by ABC's The View, and "My 2016 Resolution" by Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine.
Staying ahead of emerging technology and keeping pace with customer expectations are two of the biggest, and most exciting, challenges of the business, Macco says.
"We're nerds so we know where technology is going," he says. "We're also really customer-focused. Adam and I personally talked to the first 10,000 customers. They help dictate where we're going, as well."
The process of digitizing old media has evolved quickly since their garage days, and the processes they've built run on software they've developed in-house, Macco says. "There's nothing off the shelf for that," he says.
Buying up thousands of VCRs, employing people to keep them working, and developing specialized rigs that run a variety of media from one source to another are all essential to keeping the business efficient, Macco says. A super-fast 5 gig line from EPB ensures high-quality media uploads and a reliable source of back-up power are also essential, he adds.
"EPB had to come out and put in bigger transformers for us because this place draws so much power," Macco says.