Co-founder, Two Stories Media
Kevin Echemendia, co-founder of Two Stories Media, a Tampa photography and a video production firm, is a family man and makes no apologies for putting the needs of his wife, 2-year-old child and work family ahead of other priorities.
It’s ironic, then, that he quit his previous job, with UpDog Studios, a week before he got married.
“It was a leap of faith,” he says of the decision to strike out on his own. “It sounds crazy now, but at the time it felt right. I just had some different viewpoints about how a production company should be run and how services should be rendered. What they were doing wasn’t wrong. I just thought it could be done differently.”
Echemendia has carried that sense of resolve with him to Two Stories Media and made it clear to his employees they should do what’s right for them and their loved ones — and if that means leaving to pursue other opportunities, then they should go with his blessing and not look back.
“You have to do what’s right for you and your family,” he says. “Whether I agree or don’t agree with you, that doesn’t matter. But for the record, I always agree with them because they’re making the decision that’s right for them and their family. That’s easy for me.”
Echemendia oversees a staff of five full-time employees and 15 freelancers, and he says nothing gives him greater satisfaction than to be able to “feed all the families that I feed, … all the crew guys, all the staff members. I’m really proud of that.”
He adds that sense of accomplishment comes from a clear-eyed recognition his business is about something bigger than him and his career goals. “I want to make sure that I take care of my family and take care of others and their families,” Echemendia says. “Because it’s hard to make it sometimes — it really is.”
Echemendia says he can be plainspoken boss to the point of bluntness — “I’m pretty direct,” he says, “but I’m not going to yell and scream. I’m not going to belittle someone” — but that he’s also incredibly patient when it comes to ferreting out and then nurturing a worker’s hidden talents.
“Some people have great potential, but no one has given them a chance yet,” he says. “And some people are bad at a bunch of stuff because they just haven’t figured out the one thing they’re really good at.”