Interview Christopher Cope, VP Sales & Marketing of Raleigh Enterprises
Tell us about your background and what led you to Raleigh Enterprises?
I’ve been with Raleigh Enterprises for almost 9 years. I originally began as the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Sunset Marquis Hotel. 4 years ago, at the request of the owner, I created the corporate marketing department for Raleigh Enterprises and now oversee marketing and sales for the 4 companies. Prior to joining Raleigh Enterprises, I spent the previous 19 years holding various roles within the hospitality/hotel industry in sales and marketing such as director of sales, managing director for North America and Vice President of Sales & Marketing.
Please share a few details about each of your companies?
Sunset Marquis is an upscale, independent, boutique hotel. We cater to a variety of travelers and are mostly known for celebrity clientele, primarily from the music industry but also from the film and television industries. Advertising, fashion and corporate travelers make up the bulk of business. Guests enjoy peace and tranquility of Sunset Marquis, and since it sits on 3 1/2 acres, almost all their time on property is spent outside where they can enjoy the very best of Southern California, the weather! This is what truly sets us apart from the competition consisting of big-box, high-rise hotels in the area. Our restaurant features al fresco dining as well, so you really are able to enjoy everything good about LA, sans noise and paparazzi, thanks to our design and vigilant security measures to keep guests safe and secure in our grounds.
Marketing has always been a balance between generating awareness while maintaining the intimacy expected from our guests, some of whom have been staying with us since the 70s and 80s. It has required us to walk a fine line in terms of what we say and who we mention. Our celebrity clientele love the anonymity and it’s vital we keep that in mind at all times. Instead of dropping names we prefer to talk about the experiences people have when staying with us, such as our Live @ Sunset Marquis summer music series, and the luxurious amenities and attention to detail we provide, with zero pretension.
Raleigh Film & Television Studios has a truly unique history. Originally founded over 100 years ago by film greats Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, we originally purchased the real estate in the late 70’s. At the time, it was to be razed to make room for a K Mart shopping center. But upon inspecting the facility, our founder, George Rosenthal, just couldn’t bring himself to let it happen. Instead, he invested in the future and it now features 13 sound stages and more than a hundred state-of-art office and post production facilities, housing some of the biggest names in the industry today. It’s rich history includes several significant movies and numerous long-running television shows.
Rosenthal, the Malibu Estates, was borne from George’s passion for wines. Originally a working ranch for horses, over time it became home to our grape vines, resulting in Rosenthal Wines becoming the first wine maker in Malibu and trailblazing the way to establishing Malibu as a significant player in the California wine production landscape. Our 250-acre estate is located within four miles of the ocean at 1450 feet above sea level within a perfect microclimate for growing high-quality grapes. Rosenthal was designated it’s very own American Viticulture Area: Malibu Newton Canyon A.V.A. No other wines in the world include grapes grown within the mini-microclimates of Malibu-Newton Canyon.
We feature two labels; Rosenthal and Surf Rider, the former using only Rosenthal grapes and the latter combining Rosenthal grapes while sourcing others from areas of California like Paso Robles. At harvest they are picked by hand, then aged in the finest French Oak barrels. Distribution of our wines is only available via our membership club and direct sales to the public at our tasting room on Pacific Coast Highway. Varietals grown on the estate include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Viognier and Chardonnay.
File Keepers is a document storage company with ancillary units including paper shredding and document scanning services to complement the various needs of our customers and clients. File Keepers has been in business for over 35 years and serves businesses of all types throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Many clients from production studios to the top legal firms in LA to hospitals, accounting firms and school districts represent our largest client base.
The portfolio of core businesses within Raleigh Enterprises is so diverse and operates under a wide range of holdings, from your perspective what attributes do you think have led to the success of your core businesses?
Our businesses operate with the primary philosophy being a focus on service. We realize that regardless of the business, we operate within primarily commoditized industries. With that in mind, it is simply a matter of doing the right thing for our customers and clients, always. We operate as a family and many of our clients have been with us for decades. And in addition to the exemplary service we provide, the reason they stay with us is because we treat them as our family too. It’s far too easy for companies to lose sight of service in deference to profits. Profits are important of course, but there has to be a balance and our employees are empowered to make smart decisions to mitigate the impact that any inconvenience might cause our customers. Ultimately, every company will have a hiccup and it’s the way we respond to those mistakes that sets us apart from our competition, and ultimately what will ensure our clients keep coming back to us.
From what principle do you attain your personal success?
It has always been my personal expectation that companies treat their employees with respect and dignity, so in turn, this is my philosophy as it results to how I deal with people in work or on a personal level. I learned a long time ago that, as much as we say we need to keep business and personal friendships separate, the fact of the matter is that work is an integral part of our lives and it’s impossible to separate the two. I am proud when past employees contact me for references or personal advice because then I know they respected me, and they know I respected them as well. So from both a business and personal standpoint, my “Rule of 3” includes:
1. Treat people, and your staff, with respect and dignity. We all want it and realize it’s earned over time, but ultimately it starts here.
2. Get to know people. What are their personal interests and hobbies? It’s impossible to connect with people if you know nothing about them.
3. Provide people the tools that enable them to be better and achieve greater success.
What is the biggest challenge facing Raleigh Enterprises in the coming years?
The landscape of business as a whole is changing. We are entering a 4th industrial revolution of sorts. How we work, the way we purchase goods and services, and the way we connect with potential customers is constantly evolving and developing new vehicles for distribution and communications.
Regardless of the industry, all of our companies will see dramatic shifts in how people consume the goods and services we provide. It’s essential that we change as well, including how we interact with them and respond to their changing needs.
In the hospitality space, we face increased competition and a considerably different expectation from a new type of consumer in terms of Millennial travelers and what they want and expect in a hotel experience.
In the file storage space, we face a decreasing client base. So many new businesses are technology focused with objectives to use less and less paper and have a limited carbon footprint on the earth. They use an increasing amount of technology to fulfill these types of needs so it’s incumbent upon us to find new ways to grow revenues through acquisitions and expanding our business services.
In the studio space we face a changing filming environment from physical to electronic content development, along with an expanding based of non-traditional production companies such as NETFLIX, Hulu and Amazon. As technology advances, the question in front of us is whether big studios and sound stages even have a role in the future of entertainment and media development.
In the wine space we face increasing environmental concerns and distribution challenges. It is incumbent upon us to look at ways to mitigate our own impact on the environment, and we’ve already begun to see changes such as a movement away from cork. Ultimately we must look ahead to find ways we can be more efficient and produce a smaller carbon footprint of our own such as decreased use of bottles and embracing alternative distribution methods.
How closely do you follow trends within your sector, and what trends do you hope to set within your business?
We are continually accessing what’s trending in our respective industries. Those who do not pay attention will ultimately fail. It is important we understand the difference between what’s trendy and what’s actually changing though. For us, the trends vary from business to business, but our focus is always to ask questions of our clients. Specifically we ask them what their pain points are and what we can do to overcome these challenges with them. From there it is incumbent upon us to provide a means to satisfy those needs. We should never become complacent and never assume we know what our customers want or need. We are not in their shoes and we must collaborate with our clients to ensure there’s a win-win result for us both.
Some of your partnerships have led to international projects, how important is it for Raleigh to be competitive on a global level?
Raleigh Enterprises is a privately owned company. While international development and expansion isn’t an unrealistic expectation for us, ultimately we are focused on doing what is best for our companies and our employees, while maintaining an acceptable work-life balance for everyone. There is no point in working 80 hours per week for years and not enjoying the fruits of your labors. This is a fundamentally important aspect of working at Raleigh Enterprises.
What are some ways you feel your company challenges convention through creativity?
By being a privately held company, we are much more agile in terms of what we can do and how we do it. We are not burdened by boards of directors or other bureaucracy that inhibits us from doing what we think is the right thing for our companies. At File Keepers we developed an app for small businesses and private individuals to use our services more easily. Traditionally a company that only focused on enterprise level clients that stored thousands of boxes with us, we now have a way to work with smaller storage clients in a much more effective, efficient, and less expensive way. This has also enabled us to open new distribution lines for attracting new client types. We make similar investments in all of our companies all of the time. It goes back to providing our customers and clients the greatest level of service and experience possible, and continually looking for new ways to do business that’s responsive to our changing business environments.
How does Raleigh Enterprises align business activities with serving the local community?
Raleigh Works with a variety of organizations within our various companies. Our primary focus has been on educational related matters, most notably when we can serve children in early education environments, and help to provide them with the tools they need for their own kind of success. We regularly support initiatives introduced by our own employees as well, since some of the best and most needy organizations are grown from within our local communities and as a Southern California grown company this really should be our focus.
How do your marketing initiatives look today, and how have they evolved with the rise of social media channels.
Electronic commerce commands our attention in everything we do from a marketing, sales and advertising standpoint. Social media is without a doubt the primary communication vehicle people use to find and consume information that is important to them. We have to understand first who our customers are. Second, where our customers go to get the information they want. And finally, what kind of messaging is going to resonate with them. If a business does not earmark the bulk of their advertising and marketing budget to focus on e-commerce and social media marketing they will ultimately fail. Social media is now a core component in all our marketing strategies and endeavors and all companies should strongly consider hiring someone for this role to be the voice of the company, not just simply someone who posts content on their portals.
How do you see Raleigh Enterprises’ services evolving in the future. What are your long-term objectives/goals?
Our goal is always to be first in service. First in service, along with the fulfillment of the purchase, will always result in success. With this in mind we are looking to expand our portfolio into businesses where we’ve already seen and continue to see success. This includes real estate as a primary focus of course, but specifically within our core businesses of hotels, office space and studio space, the latter designed to provide services for industries of rising importance, such as gaming and live music venues.