Making a niche in today's tough market

On May 6, 2014
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Like many college students, Adam Flaherty had no idea what he wanted to do when he started his freshman year at the University of New Hampshire in 2001. Now, Flaherty owns his own video production company, Anchor Line Web and Screen Works, which operates out of Portsmouth, N.H.

Flaherty is one of a number of recent university graduates who are creating a niche for themselves in today's tough job market. Anchor Line's unique service offers a variety of video, production and web design services to a growing number and array of clients.

"Video is an incredible way for a business to show what makes them different from the competition," Flaherty said, discussing one of the services that he and his two employees offer. "If you go to a website to hire a company, a lawyer for example, what makes one lawyer different from the next? That has to do with personality and how friendly they are or how aggressive they are. Video is a great way to show that."

Flaherty's early career working on his own began in 2008, when he started to do freelance projects, shooting interviews and editing small projects. However, he quickly gained recognition for his work and started to take on larger clients, including Planet Fitness and Lindt Chocolates, two companies based out of New Hampshire.

That's when he decided to set up an office space in downtown Portsmouth and create a company name. 

Although producing and editing top-level video is his greatest asset, Flaherty also had to learn the business side of entrepreneurship. 

"When you work for a company, you're not worried about generating income," he said when asked about the struggles of owning a business. "As long as you get to work and do what you're supposed to do, you'll get a steady paycheck. As a business owner, you're worried about generating the business that turns into those paychecks."

"It's really exciting, but really, really nerve-wracking," he laughed.

Despite the nerves and anxiety that come with running his own business, Flaherty enjoys the freedom from having to report to one person and run on somebody's schedule apart from his own.

Apart from the freedom and the process of shooting and editing video, Flaherty most enjoys meeting with clients and networking.

His personal network dates back to his days at UNH, where Flaherty met and created connections with several future Anchor Line clients. One of these UNH connections is professional hypnotist Paul Ramsay, who was a residence hall director while Flaherty was a resident assistant at the university.

Flaherty and Ramsay have stayed in contact over the years, sometimes working together on smaller projects and eventually going on tour together to film some of Ramsay's shows.

In the fall of 2012, Ramsay asked Anchor Line if they would be interested in producing a reality web series based around Ramsay's shows at universities throughout the US. 

The series, called Hypnotic, covers everything from shows to behind the scenes experiences to Ramsay's interactions with people he met during seven shows throughout the country.  It is now available on YouTube, and plans are in the works to shoot a second season.

"[Flaherty's] understanding of production-value is outstanding," Ramsay said. "The biggest feedback we've gotten consistently about the series is that it looks so professional. A lot of people think we had crews of people and editors and producers and all this stuff. That's how good he is."

Beyond being great at what he does, Flaherty is praised as being very personable and easy to work with. 

Michael Jackson, professor of communication at UNH, remembers Flaherty as a student. "He was serious first, but always funny second," Jackson said in a 2012 interview.

Ramsay also noted Flaherty's humor. When shooting footage for Hypnotic, the two did a lot of traveling together, often by plane.

"Whenever we would fly, when we would land, he would turn to me and in the most serious voice, he would go, 'Do you wanna clap, should we clap it out for that?'" Ramsay laughed. "It was a great, dry delivery and I would never be ready for it."

On the last flight they took together, Ramsay finally was ready. He raised his hands to clap and looked at Flaherty, who said, "No way am I clapping." 

Ramsay was also quick to add that it is not just humor that makes Flaherty a likeable person. "He's always very genuine and you can tell that he really cares about his work and the people he meets."

At UNH, where he majored in communication, Flaherty first became interested in video production when he joined the Student Cable Access Network, SCAN-TV, where he helped shoot and produce small, short projects. 

"SCAN really allowed me to get hands on the equipment," he said. "I didn't really know what I wanted to do with it, but I started to learn and understand how production worked."

Now, he has taken what he has learned at school, added his experience with production and business and started a successful company with the capacity to produce many types of projects.

"We're in a great spot where we can cater to local small businesses on a small budget," he said. "But we can also do projects for national companies in Portland, Boston or New York City looking for broadcast TV spots and things like that."

As Anchor Line adds new clients and continues to improve its craft, Flaherty will continue to offer the services that are important, although sometimes overlooked, to all companies and business owners, such as Paul Ramsay.

"Regardless of what business you're in, we're a story-telling culture and a video culture," Ramsay said. "[Flaherty] has figured that out. Business is about relationships, and if you're going to have relationships with people, you have to find a way to share you're story with them. That's what Adam's really good at."

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