KEH Stories: Jon Safran
Here’s your insiders look into KEH Camera and the KEH team. Check out #KEHSpotlight each month where we’ll showcase team members. This month we interviewed our President and CEO, Jon Safran.
Hey Jon! Thanks for agreeing to share your background with our customers. To begin, please tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Connecticut and have lived all over the United States including Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Ann Arbor, Washington DC, Phoenix, Austin, Houston and now Atlanta for the past 10 years. I would like to think that I still have a lot of classic “New Englander” in me —hard working, plain spoken, slightly reserved, willing to roll up my sleeves to tackle whatever needs to be done, and down to earth – but I also love to have fun. I wish I was funnier. My wife and boys tell me to stop trying, but maybe one day I’ll get there.
I love photography, especially black & white pictures. I’m by no means a professional, but I have been taking pictures for over 30 years – I bought my first camera when I was 13 (an Olympus OM-1) and I recently put it on the KEH shelves so that someone else can continue its journey.
I’ve done several different things in my career including Marketing, Finance, Operations, Strategy, Business Development, Investor Relations, General Management, etc. and I think that breadth has really helped prepare me for a business as complex as KEH, where we are both buying and selling cameras – and we must be great at both.
You’ve been a part of the KEH team for about 5 months now. How has your role as President and CEO helped shape KEH? How does your role support our company mission?
KEH is special business and I’m proud to lead the KEH team. I’ve been working with the team to crystallize our mission and make sure everyone is aligned to it – our top focus is making the customer experience exceptional, both in terms of selling to us and buying from us. Our competition is a mouse-click away and for us to win a customer’s trust, we have to be better than them in everything we do – superior quality, gracious service, delivery as promised, informative content and information, an easy-to-navigate website, breadth of product, attractive prices, and policies that make sense. We’re not yet world-class in this endeavor, but that is absolutely our goal and we’re getting better every day.
What excites you about coming into work each day? Why is KEH a great place to work?
Definitely the people! We have a great team at KEH, a group that is passionate about camera gear and photography – and one that also really cares about our customers. And now we’re focused on getting the full team aligned to our mission, so there is a great energy around the building. I believe that we’re on a great path and it feels to me like the team believes that as well.
The future of KEH is so bright! Share with us in on what you’re most excited about and how you continue to motivate your team?
I agree – the future is bright. We live in a great time for photography. More people are taking more pictures than ever before and wanting better gear with which to take them. I truly believe that KEH provides a valuable service in that environment; offering people a way to get top-quality gear at prices that are a fraction of retail and also offering a unique way to reduce waste and recycle products — giving them a second life with someone else. So the opportunity is what motivates me and I share that with the team; we talk about it all the time; that for us to achieve our goals we need to keep in mind what everyone at KEH does matters; how we are all dependent on each other, and how important it is to act with a sense of purpose and urgency and to get better every single day.
Here’s a fun question, if you could BE any camera what would you be and why?
I guess the Leica SL. Leica markets it as “the embodiment of the digital era in professional photography… [it] impresses with versatility, ease of handling and robustness.” That sounds pretty good to me. We have some in our inventory right now; I’ve definitely had my eye on them.
Do you have other special talents or hobbies?
I don’t profess to have any special talents or super powers, but I love doing everything. I’m always up for something new to see, taste, experience, play, or do. I love being in motion – I am a great companion for long walks and long road trips and everything in between. And I have a great ability to plan out those trips and navigate new places, making sure that we see and do everything.
Is there a quote or saying you live by?
You have to be passionate about what you are doing – you have to take on big challenges and go “all in”. Life is simply too short not to love every minute and take advantage of it – so work hard, play hard and spend as much time as you can with people that matter to you.