At a time when Amazon, Apple and Comcast rule the movie rental business, Keith Hoogland is quick to point out that renting videos the old-fashioned way — at an actual video store — is not out of style.
But Hoogland, president of Family Video parent Highland Ventures, also admits he knows that the old-school method of renting videos will eventually vanish.
Still, that doesn't worry Hoogland, 57, who started working in the privately held family business at age 23 and since then has always had the next idea percolating.
Even though Family Video's revenues have declined in recent years, Hoogland has managed to keep his company growing, he says, with nearly 10,000 employees and real estate over roughly 760 locations (660 of which he owns), properties that include Family Video stores, Stay Fit 24 gyms, Marco's Pizza restaurants (located inside Family Video) and Digital Doc, an electronics retailer and repair service. He's even dabbled in the cable business, although he sold that venture this year.
Hoogland, whose office is in Glenview, frequently says "we" when he talks about his business, which he says means his team and namely his father, Charlie, who launched the video arm of Highland Ventures in 1978. Since Keith took over in 1995, the company has expanded.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
A: It's been a little bit difficult, obviously. But what happened was Blockbuster and Hollywood Video all went out of business about the same time, and so our business model was very different from theirs from the very beginning. I think that the most important thing to talk about is our real estate piece. Because we are our own landlord, we can control our rents and also the size of our space. And that's been really the biggest part of our business: continuing to rent videos, make it comfortable.
The biggest difference between us was definitely the real estate play. We're making money on our real estate, so we don't have to make as much money on our video (stores) and we can also get them to the correct size of the space. By the way, our best years have been 2012, 2013, 2014, so after Blockbuster and everything.
A: My dad's a genius. He was in the wholesale business, and as that got squeezed, he was left with was a bunch of warehouses, real estate. And so he said, "I don't know how long video is going to last, but let's end up with real estate." So he said, "Let's start buying stuff."
A: The last two years have been a little bit tough. We've dropped a little bit over the last couple years, and I think that's going to flatten out. We haven't had a lot of great movies. We've had some real big hits, but we don't have the consistent $70 million, $80 million, $90 million movies. That really drives the video business.
A: Real estate and video is still the bulk of it. Marco's, that's growing fast though.
A: We didn't want to compete with Blockbuster, and people (were) going there first. So we said, "Let's go down into the smaller markets and see if we can really get there first, get the great corner and own those markets." Which is what we went after and did. And then we started filling in into the big cities, and we were doing fine there also.
A: I was bummed when Blockbuster went out of business. It was bad for our (industry) because it made people think our industry was going away.
A: We thought it helped our video business. With the internet and ordering online, we thought that we could do a pizza and a movie. So you can go to most stores with Marco's. You can go online, order pizza, get a video delivered with your pizza. One of the problems with video is that you have to go get it and then you have to go bring it back. So that's two trips. So we can solve one of the trips. It's something nobody else is doing or could do.
A: Middle class, lower middle, maybe upper-middle, it's that segment that's still renting movies. The 20-somethings is my problem. The 30-somethings have kids, and they seem to be coming in because it's cheap. You can rent a movie and two free kids movies.
A: I do have a plan, and I'm not going to divulge that plan. I have two really good concepts that will fit well in our real estate.
A: Interesting question. Don't know if I have a great answer for that, but the short (answer) is that it's a family business and I want to keep it a family business. I have six kids. One of them is already in here, working for me and keeping it clean. I want to give them the same kind of shots.
A: The pizza business, the Stay Fit business, the Digital Doc. I've had a lot of failures too. We've had an ice cream company that we tried. None of them were real failures; we just didn't like it. I think the real estate division, professionalizing that and turning it into a real estate business has been probably what I've really enjoyed quite a lot. I stood on every one of the locations. I negotiated all of the locations. I've laid out the site work and plans for the locations.
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“At a time when Amazon, Apple and Comcast rule the movie rental business, Keith Hoogland is quick to point out that renting videos the old-fashioned way — at an actual video store — is not out of style.”
“The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Davidson County and Marco’s Pizza will work together to enhance youth development and recognition of youth success within Lexington and Thomasville.”
“Family Video is joining together with two other organizations to once again support life-saving lymphoma research.”
Family Video, the suburban Chicago-based video rental chain that outlasted Blockbuster, VHS tapes and the “be kind, rewind” mantra, is closing its stores and calling it quits after 42 years.
“Your shelves were always full, my sweet, fallen friend. Your DVDs, your Blu-Rays, your television boxes sets, which for some reason I had to rent disc by disc instead of just the whole season at once, which was irritating as all hell, but that’s ok now. I forgive you.”
Family Video went out of business. All its brick-and-mortar stores closed. But the brand is still alive — ironically in the digital world that helped usher in the company’s demise.
Marco's Pizza's largest franchisee has added a location in New Berlin's busiest district.
Marco’s Pizza, the pizza chain known for its Pizza Bowls, is bringing their newest Kansas City metro location to Blue Springs.
Highland Ventures is opening up a 25,000 square foot office in Nashville, TN. Highland Ventures' former corporate office was in Glenview, IL.
Glenview, IL - Keith Hoogland, President and CEO of Highland Ventures announced the sale of Family Vet Group to Heartland Veterinary Partners. Family Vet Group, founded in 2019, provides full-scale general veterinary services in major metropolitan areas in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Indiana.
His leadership qualities have allowed him to take a small video store, build it into a massive video rental chain and then successfully transition into a real estate conglomerate with multiple operating subsidiaries. He is fantastic at change management.
The 53,107 square-foot boutique office building in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, was purchased by Highland Ventures for $16.75 million.
We love the brand and have a really good partner in Marco's Pizza. We’re thrilled about the future and have complete confidence that we can reach 300 stores in the next five years.