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Camera Corner Connecting Point turns 70

Long-time CEO Rick Chernick grew up in the business – working in the shop for 56 years

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April 5, 2023

GREEN BAY – This year marks the 70th year in business for Camera Corner Connecting Point – claiming the title of the oldest technology store in Northeast Wisconsin.

For most of those years, the company has been led by CEO Rick Chernick, whose father Norman Chernick started the company seven decades ago. 

A look back
Norman, a World War II veteran, was a lawyer who later decided to expand on his photography hobby by opening the first Camera Corner in downtown Green Bay in 1953.

“When we started in 1953, it was started as a camera store only,” Rick said. “He started with Eastman Kodak cameras and a few other main brands back in the day and one thing led to another. We’ve had four locations on downtown corners – hence the name Camera Corner.”

Rick said his father always believed in the heart of the center of the city and saw “the downtown as the heart of the city.”
“We love it downtown – that is where we like to be,” he said. “I have seen an awful lot of change down here – including when the Port Plaza Mall opened to when it closed.”

Rick said when the mall opened, he thought about moving down a block from the 101 N. Washington location to a spot at 231 N. Washington, to be closer to the mall.

“Then as things started to change, and the mall started to weaken, we decided to change our business model,” he said. “We weren’t just retail obviously, so we decided to build a bigger, more modern facility allowing for growth.”

The shift prompted the move to 529 N. Monroe – eventually filling three separate buildings there.

“We’ve got a little campus here,” he said. “We have our engineers in one building and the designers, project managers, our accounting support team, advertising and marketing, all in this (main) building. And service, we have in a warehouse.”

Since taking over the business from his father in the 1980s, Rick has grown it into the IT, AV (audio/video), VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and physical security solution provider it is today.

Since taking over the business from his father in the 1980s, Rick Chernick has grown it into the IT, AV, VoIP and physical security solution provider it is today. Photo Courtesy of Camera Corner Connecting Point

In 1989, Camera Corner became Camera Corner Connecting Point (CCCP).

“I joined a franchise called Connecting Point Computer Center, and there were about 300 resellers in the United States that were a part of it,” he said. “So, it was a franchise distributor we paid a fee to join.”

Rick said that move afforded the business the opportunity to start selling the larger names, like Compaq, HP and IBM.

“Those were the ones that as a small retail or commercial reseller we wanted, but you couldn’t get them by just calling IBM and saying, ‘I want to sell your stuff,’” he said. “So, all of the medium- to small-sized resellers – there were tens of thousands of us all around the country – (had to join bigger companies in order to get those items).”

Rick said the Connecting Point company has since shut down, but “we’re still here.”

Lifelong career
What started as a part-time job as a teen for Rick has become his life’s work.

“I started working for my dad in high school,” he said. “When I was 15 years old, about 1967, I was at (Green Bay) East High School at the time and obviously like most kids, if you got a chance to work and make a few bucks, you would.”

Rick said the motivation behind his desire to earn some cash was a car.

“I wanted a car, so I chose to work,” he said. “I worked every day after school and Saturdays and Friday nights until 9 p.m. and did what I had to do to go to work.”

Little did he know, he’d still be at it more than 50 years later.

“At the time, I didn’t know exactly that the business was going to be something I’d stick with for 56 years like I have,” he said. “But, I fell in love with it, and it became a part of my life – one of the biggest parts of my life, if not the biggest.”

Rick said the business has grown and diversified quite a bit over the years.

Though the technology and products have changed over the years, Rick Chernick said Camera Corner Connecting Point still carries cameras and offers support for them. Photo Courtesy of Camera Corner Connecting Point

“It’s not truly a camera store anymore, because that’s not a big thing like it used to be years ago,” he said. “We’re more than a technology provider for businesses and homes and schools.”

Rick said the business now deals with all sorts of technology – from security cameras and IT audio-visual equipment to phones, computers and cybersecurity solutions.

“Just about anything a business might need,” he said. “We still have the retail store. As we tell people, ‘It’s not the largest part of our company anymore’ – we’ve diversified into many other areas.”

Emerging technology
Rick said he is excited about the new technology Camera Corner Connecting Point is involved in.

“I like where cybersecurity is taking us because we’ve grown in that area – that’s how we protect your business from the bad guys, right?” he said. “That one can infiltrate your network. We’re doing a lot with that. I love where that’s going.”

Rick said he is also excited by the evolution of AV and LED.

“The excitement around AV and LEDs – those items are hot today,” he said. “The LED walls are taking off like crazy.”

At 71 years old, Rick doesn’t seem to be slowing down and said he isn’t planning on stepping back just yet – there is however a succession plan in place.

Rick’s son Ryan is the president of the company, and he said hopes he will be the one to take over.

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