“If people do not like animals and cannot get along with animals, then I don’t think I want them around me and the rest of the staff,” he says.
Plus, Case knows when you’re taxed creatively, it’s a different world when you come back from taking a dog for a walk.
Diversify for success
Another reason why PMI is still around 30 years later is Case hasn’t been afraid to diversify, whether through its client base or types of projects.
The company recently started PMI Films. PMI has been dabbling in feature films for years, but Case didn’t jump in wholeheartedly until he found the right partner. A long-time producer, Brian Hartman understands how the industry works, who you work with, who you don’t work with and how to monetize it.
“It was a slow process. It was a long dating process to see how well we worked with him, how well he worked with us,” he says.
Currently, PMI Films has three projects in different stages of production. But with PMI Films, PMI is its own client. Sometimes that’s harder and sometimes it’s easier, such as flexible deadlines.
“It’s actually a great deal of fun, but it comes with its set of problems, too, because you’re sitting around with people you work with all the time. We all know that our opinion is the best. Sometimes we have a tough time expressing that to the rest of the group, and sometimes your opinion is overruled,” he says.
Diversification is critical for long-term success. It also can mean walking away from what’s not successful or spinning off a company, Case says.
PMI, for example, started a business in Phoenix because clients wanted a warm weather resort location. It was successful for eight years, but Case sold it because his daughter kept asking why he had to travel again.
“I realized that my personal life and my family life was much more important than my business life,” he says.
Something that wasn’t as successful was PMI Digital, which created online advertising.
The division lost its leader and PMI couldn’t find a suitable replacement. Also, PMI Digital alienated some clients who saw PMI as a competitor, not a vendor. Eventually, Case pulled the plug.
It’s not an easy decision because you’re affecting people’s lives, but it’s often a matter of economics, he says. You only have so much money to invest.
“If they’re not performing to the anticipated level, then it’s incumbent on the individual running the company — in this case, me — to say, ‘We’re not going to do it anymore. We’re going to stop.’ Because what will end up happening is we will end up harming the ability of the other divisions to be successful,” he says.