Bellingham design agency acquires Hand Crank Films

The local creative agency Variant has finalized the acquisition of the video production company Hand Crank Films. The acquisition was finalized on Friday, Nov. 1. Both Variant and Hand Crank Films will retain their distinct individual brands.

“Hand Crank is an established and well-regarded video company and we couldn’t be more excited to continue the legacy of beautiful and effective filmmaking,” owner of Variant, Troy Wright said in a press release. “This acquisition adds to our creative offerings and expands our reach and recognition. We are excited about the possibilities we can achieve together.”

Variant, which is in its first year of operation, mainly focuses on fully integrated marketing campaigns, environmental design, print and digital design, animation, illustration and video projects. They have worked with numerous clients such as Skagit Regional Health, Seattle Humane Society, San Diego Humane Society and Oasys Inc.

We noticed growth on the video side of things within the last 12 months, which got us to the point of acquiring Hand Crank Films, managing director, Micah Bobbink said. He will be leading both Variant and Hand Crank Films as managing director.

Variant’s director of video, Caleb Young will return to Hand Crank Films as the creative director. Young previously worked as a director at Hand Crank Films.

“I am really excited to see that Hand Crank will continue driving creativity and to call myself a part of Hand Crank again,” Young said.

Ashley Gateless will be joining the leadership team at Hand Crank as the managing producer.

Hand Crank Films has been a staple video production company in the Pacific Northwest for 15 years with offices in both Bellingham and Seattle.

Former CEO of Hand Crank Films, Max Kaiser started the company because he felt strongly about telling the stories of businesses.

“Coming from a small business family I really enjoyed telling peoples’ stories,” Kaiser said. “I often felt like businesses had a lot of passion but were really bad at telling their own story and so I felt like I could help them out.”

The company primarily specialized in telling corporate stories via video such as new product announcements, about us videos and fundraising videos for non-profits.

“We had amazing returns on particularly our non-profit videos where we could make people cry buckets at events and then write big checks based on their emotional response,” Kaiser said.

Hand Crank Films partnered with numerous local businesses over the years such as San Juan Cruises, Bellingham Millworks, PeaceHealth and Western Washington University. They have also worked with companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Driscoll’s Berries and Redfin.

The video production company averaged about 70 to 80 projects a year and typically had about five or six employees. They had gross annual revenue of about $1,075,000.

Kaiser has decided to focus on further developing Pipeline, a software he created to track, schedule and manage multiple video projects.

“I used software to be able to help us run more projects more efficiently and more accurately,” Kaiser said. “Moving away from Hand Crank has allowed me to dedicate myself and one other employee all of our time to Pipeline.”

“It feels like a great handoff of the brand to the Variant team and I just couldn’t be happier about that,” Kaiser said.

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