KEH Stories: Steve Best
Here’s your insider look into KEH Camera and the KEH team. Check out #KEHSpotlight each month where we’ll showcase team members. This month we interviewed Customer Service Representative, Steve Best.
For 40 years I have been married to my bride and mostly watched her raise our two kids. She has been my foundation and the children are wonderful contributors as adults to society. Also, for the past 40 years I have been in the photography industry in a few different roles.
I started out as a commercial photographer, but soon was given some management responsibilities overseeing lab operations along with photographer role. That continued throughout my career with photography manager and director of photography roles while keeping a daily photography schedule. Retail catalog photography ended up as my focus working for a couple of the largest catalog agencies in the country mostly in Atlanta, but also in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I feel like I have led in the transition of film to digital in our industry. In 1991, the company I was working for brought digital in for beta testing for catalog workflow. I led that initiative and throughout the next 15 years worked with a couple of camera manufacturers as a beta studio for several of their products.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory & Henry College in Virginia and then an Associate of Science Degree for photography from Randolph Technical Institute in North Carolina. Later during my career I went back to school at Georgia State University and received an MBA through their Executive MBA program. Volunteer work was also important to me and I began speaking to photography groups that eventually led me to be elected and serve on the Board of Directors for Professional Photographers of America (PPA). In 2003 I served as President of PPA and then Chairman of the Board.
In 2009, I took the role of Executive Director for Advertising Photographers of America (APA – now known as American Photographic Artists). That position was very rewarding growing that association to record members. Soon I wanted to be back in the commercial world and joined The Home Depot as Photography Manager Creative. When I left THD I decided to take retirement but soon found I still wanted to make a contribution and remain working in some capacity. That led me to apply to KEH Camera in a customer loyalty role.
How long have you been a KEH employee? What is your role (s) here at KEH and what does it entail?
I joined KEH Camera in June 2018 so I have been here for 8 months in Customer Service, mostly as a consumer purchasing representative. I love working with potential sellers of their often-treasured photo gear through email and phone services. Helping those customers through the process of selling their gear to KEH is very rewarding and getting them to accept an offer from KEH when they feel it is not as much as it should be is an important part of the job. I want the seller to feel it is a fair deal.
What is your favorite thing about your role here? How does your role support our vision/mission?
Talking with customers is something I love and was not really sure how good I would be at it since I did not have any experience. It came fairly easy to me. I feel and I hope customers think I have been helpful to them showing respect and patience through their questions and sometimes complaints. Having customers return to us for future selling and buying with KEH will contribute to our growth. Even if customers do not accept the offer they receive from KEH, if I am able to communicate with them professionally and with respect hopefully, they will return.
The future of KEH is so bright! Share with us in on what you’re most excited about here at KEH?
From what I have seen in my 8 months here it is very exciting to see how leadership is open to new ideas while strengthening the core business of buying and selling camera gear. There have been very obvious improvements in operations and physical organization of all departments of the company. We still have much to work on but the parts are in place for continued growth and improvements that will take KEH into perhaps new areas of business that will contribute to KEH being around for another 40 years.
Here’s a fun question, if you could BE any camera what would you be and why?
I’m torn on this question. I really like vintage Leica rangefinder cameras. The manufacturing quality and simple operation I love, but I also really like the new advancements in mirrorless cameras. Forward-thinking and futuristic advancements are something I have always felt I strived towards. I have always considered cameras as a tool so it is the knowledge and skill of the user that makes it excel.
Do you have other special talents or hobbies?
I love to cook and enjoy preparing a meal for guests. I also enjoy home improvement projects. I have refinished wood floors, laid tile, painting and minor plumbing and electrical work as well as landscaping. I just try and stay within my abilities.
Is there a quote/saying you live by?
It may be cliché but I live by the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Can’t think of anything better.