By Bill Hedrick
Some 45 years ago, Paul and Helen Fuller came up with an idea of opening a full service color lab to produce high quality photographic printing for portrait photographers in Dallas and the surrounding area. From the beginning, two core values would provide the foundation of Full Color… to treat others as you would like to be treated and to embrace change. Those basic values have allowed Full Color to grow and to expand since that time and have led to longtime relationships with customers and employees, many of which have spent their entire careers with the company.
It all began in 1978 on Lawnview Avenue in east Dallas. But, as the word spread and business took off, it was plain to see they were quickly outgrowing their original facility. By 1987, Full Color was relocated to 7950 Carr Street in Dallas where there was more room to set up a facility designed for photo production at that time. “We had dedicated areas for film processing and darkrooms for ‘machine’ printing and ‘custom’ printing,” explained Amanda Fuller, daughter of Paul and Helen Fuller.
Amanda Fuller’s first job for the company was in Customer Service. Back then, her job was mostly answering telephone calls, tracking down the status of orders, and sorting orders for various departments. After graduating from Texas A&M, she returned to the company working in marketing, creating collateral, and helping to design and develop some of the first iterations of their website. In 2014, all of that came full circle when Amanda Fuller became Customer Service Manager, which turned out to be a much more complex role than when she first began working for Full Color. “Our customer service representatives today are problem solvers,” she explains.
As technological advances in the photography community made great strides during the 21st century, Full Color adapted just as it had promised in the beginning. Back in 1991, Paul Fuller hired a young man named Steve Pullin because of his background and knowledge of networks and technology. At that time, Steve had been installing some of the first fiber optic systems for IBM and Paul recognized that the photo industry would soon be going that direction.
“One of my first tasks was to install our first plant-wide network system so that printers and computers could talk to one another,” says Steve. This task meant that Steve would basically have to learn everyone’s job and then apply new equipment and automation to each department and task. It was a time when the photo industry was focused on new ways to automate in order to continue to be profitable. By 1997, Steve Pullin was named as Full Color’s Production Manager and, by 1998, he was the company’s Vice-President. In 2006, he was named President.
Texas A&M would produce another long-time Full Color employee, Micah Eldredge. By 2002, co-founder Helen Fuller was looking for someone to replace her role in the company and Paul Fuller knew just the right man for the job. “Paul was a mentor to me while I was in high school,” recalls Micah. “He called and asked if I was considering public accounting or going into the photo industry. I came to work that year and fell in love with the photo lab, the people, and the changing landscape of the film-to-digital conversion of the industry. It was a challenge to me but I quickly learned that challenges were opportunities to grow and differentiate the company to thrive in a competitive market.” Micah would go from being a manager to becoming Vice-President and Secretary/Treasurer for Full Color.
Above: Production photos from “the old days” of film processing are a sharp contrast from today’s production. By 2003, Full Color had converted to a completely digital workflow.
New technology was taking the industry by storm and Full Color was right on top of it all. From installing their first digital printer in 1995, they continued to expand their digital services and, by 2003, Full Color had switched to a completely digital workflow. Soon, they began expanding outside the realm of photo printing by introducing ink-jet printed Canvas Wraps in 2006.
The next year, a new digital press printer was installed, allowing photographers to order press-printed greeting cards, high quality flyers, marketing materials, and more. Not long afterwards, Full Color expanded into dye-sublimation printing, expanding their product offering to include metal prints on aluminum and items such as coffee mugs, keychains, and Christmas ornaments.
As technology has continued to expand, Full Color has integrated with several industry partners, especially for volume photographers looking to integrate online sales with pro lab order fulfillment. They are currently integrated with Fotomerchant, GotPhoto, and Imagequix online hosting partners.
From her early years, watching her parents build the company and her own involvement in Customer Service, Amanda has been an important part of Full Color’s history. “I feel lucky to have been part of such a complete transformation of our company and industry over the last three decades. Also, the relationships with photographers and long-time clients and working with them to navigate all the changes over the years has been quite rewarding.”
With all those changes, Full Color has stood by those original core values on which the company was founded back in 1978… to treat others as you would like to be treated and to embrace change. It all sounds so simple and maybe even a bit old fashioned, but it has proven to be the foundation for a successful enterprise that proudly serves a client base from coast to coast with a personal touch. Any way you look at it, that is a level of service and commitment that is rare in today’s world and a treasure to those who recognize it.