It was 3.30pm and I quickened my pace for a short coffee session with Eric Goh. I observed a simple young man dressed in the most casual manner, sipping on his freshly brewed coffee. There was no telltale sign that he was the man behind Photo and Consumer Products Sdn Bhd (PCP). I introduced myself, then sat down to have a conversation about an unsung local camera company.
“It all began from my father who is passionate about photography.”Eric goh
Established in 1983, PCP’s beginnings were rather humbling. “Back then, film cameras were the norm and those who could afford one actually knew how a camera worked,” says Eric Goh. “My father eventually joined a group of people with the same interest in setting up the company in Malaysia and from then onwards the business has continued to expand.”
It was interesting to note how Eric eventually caught on with the family business. Armed with a degree in IT, he, like many of us, never fully understood how a camera actually functioned until he began to dabble with his first ever compact camera. “My interest in photography eventually grew as I upgraded to my first DSLR and I didn’t have the advantage of YouTube or blogs as reference points. By the end of my learning process, I knew almost every function of a camera by experience,” says Eric.
Although the business was his inherent right, he had to work his way up like others. “My father needed assistance in managing the computers in his company so I stepped in to help but I had to start from the bottom.” From a delivery boy to co-managing PCP, he became a jack of all trades and credits that to his humble beginnings.
The Humanistic Touch Of PCP
Before this, I had only heard of brands like Voigtländer, Rodenstock and Leica in passing. And so it was a rarity to hear of a company that distributes these brands in an otherwise Nikon or Canon saturated market.
“Our customers range from fresh beginners to professional photographers. Therefore our customer care is tailor-made with zero compromise on excellence,” says Eric. The one-to-one customer service is a dying concept in a market that prioritises sales above lasting customer relationship, and so imagine my surprise to learn of PCP’s novel approach towards their customers. “Our clients usually come to know about us through social media and word of mouth. An appointment with them is usually made in a more casual environment. My favourite will be in a coffee shop and thus began the process of educating them about cameras, lenses and its functions.” Asked about the length of each consultation, he says “Well, it depends on their understanding, sometimes it can go on up to one hour.”
Apart from the unconventional casual meetings, PCP also engages its customers in photography walkabouts in the heart of the city. Rounding up a small group of photography aficionados, Eric began taking them on a journey, exploring some of Kuala Lumpur’s hidden gems and capturing some of the most astounding photographs.
The annual KL Photography festival, Malaysia’s hottest imaging event, is also a platform for PCP to nurture their unique customer relationship. I shook my head in disbelief; this was the humanistic touch that was missing in many high-flying companies. Indeed, to find such an unpresuming establishment was a breath of fresh air.
The Battle Of Brands And Smartphones
Voigtländer, Rodenstock, Kenko and Leica – let’s face it, these camera brands are virtually unheard of. Thus, comes the daunting task of creating brand awareness in an industry dominated by the big guns, namely Nikon and Canon. The biggest challenge faced by these manual third party lenses is the introduction of auto settings in all digital cameras.
“These days, the masses only want the easy way out. With the advent of Instagram, many seek to emulate shots they had seen on the social media but fail to do so simply because they have yet to grasp the skills of manual shots. Most of the images seen in magazines are product of years of experience and thorough understanding of the 4 basic components in a camera – aperture, ISO, shutter speed and focus.”eRIC GOH
For the masses, using brands sans the accustomed preset shooting modes can be quite a handful and many eventually throw in the towel. The ubiquitous use of the ever-evolving smartphone is also slowly usurping the role of digital cameras with the introduction of multi-lenses and sophisticated shooting modes that are, more often than not, underused.
The Essence Of PCP
“It is like pitting Kluang Station coffee against Starbucks. In the end they are both coffee companies but only serving a different range of clientele.”Eric goh
When asked about the future of the industry, he had a bleak outlook. For the past 10 years, the sales had been dwindling with the rise of smartphones but Eric made a point that struck a chord with most consumers. “I believe every product made has a specific purpose. It is just a matter of preference,” says Eric. Despite the decline in popularity, these unsung brands have captured the attention of an exclusive group of aficionados that have made it relevant till this day.
“At the end of the day, photography is about freezing a moving work of art. It is you who instruct the camera and not the other way round,” Eric concluded. I smiled surreptitiously as I began to solidify the essence of PCP.
“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”Yousuf Karsh
PCP has been a leading local camera distributor since 1983 for unsung brands such as Voigtländer, Rodenstock, Kenko and Leica. They provide a vast array of services from distributing camera lenses and accessories to an impeccable customer support system. For more information visit the links below: