When it comes to educational videos, "we are generalists but there are certain areas we like to concentrate in - job skills, job training, job search," Walko said. "We do try to stay attuned to what's being written about in the news, like deadly distractions. We invest in the videos ourselves, have a distributor and receive royalties. We have 29 new titles in distribution."
The size of Motion Masters' staff has fluctuated between nine and 11 over the years, Walko said. The current staff includes Pat Legg, business manager; Doug Morris, production manager; Brian Peterson, executive director; p.k. Khoury, copywriter/producer; Diane Dimoff, producer; Wesley Poole, videographer/editor; Christa Hamra, director of marketing and sales; and an administrative assistant who asked not to have her name published.
"I definitely want to say I have a terrific staff," Walko said. "Some have been here 20 years. They are a dedicated and talented group of people who could work in major production facilities in New York or California or wherever but choose to practice their craft at Motion Masters and choose to be in West Virginia."
Motion Masters supplements its staff with freelancers as needed.
"We did a commercial for the Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College," Walko said. "We wanted a totally graphic look. There was nothing to shoot - it was all illustrations, motion graphics. The designer for that lives in Romania.
"We were able to deliver to our client a very unique look for their commercial, and we were able to deliver it at a budget that they could afford."
The Internet has made it possible for Motion Masters to work with talented people around the world, to work for clients anywhere, and to sell films and videos worldwide.
The company's three-story headquarters at NorthGate is a far cry from its first two-room, one-phone office. Motion Masters boasts the only freestanding production studio in West Virginia (All of the others are tied to TV stations). It was an early adopter of digital editing. It went tapeless several years ago.
"Nothing in business is ever static," Walko said. "It's particularly true on the technical side of our business. We continually invest in new software and hardware and are learning new processes to streamline the operation. The learning curve is ongoing. Just when you figure something out, it's time to shift gears again.
"It's a challenge to know when to adopt new technology and which manufacturer to work with. For us, the last big decision was, when do we move into high definition? We met internally every three or six months for a couple of years to discuss what that technology could do, what it would cost, whether we felt our current client base was ready to pay additional dollars for that, and whether demand was there for it. We made the transition to full HD three years ago.
"We've done HD Blu-ray for years. That's just another output for us. I don't see 3-D being an issue for us anytime soon. If you go to Best Buy and look, the only things available in 3-D are kids' movies and a few action flicks."
Walko thought running a small business would get easier over time.
"When first starting the business, I thought it was going to get easier because I would have analyzed the first round of health benefits for employees or learned how to structure a 401(k) or found the resources you need to do the productions," she said.
"But business isn't static. If you're doing the same thing today that you were doing five years ago, you're going to find yourself out of business. You have to keep up with new technology, keep your own skill sets updated. You have to keep delivering results for your clients, to keep them coming back in the door."
Walko said the master's in business administration she earned at Marshall University in 2004 has been a great help.
"The depth and breadth of that education filled in a lot of holes," she said. She can now analyze whether she should purchase or lease equipment, understand bankers' ratio analyses, and solve legal issues she previously may have had to hire a lawyer to answer.
Motion Masters will celebrate its 25th anniversary this evening with a dessert social for clients, friends and colleagues.
"We're really excited to be celebrating 25 years," Walko said. "It has gone quickly."
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.