Get to know Finao
A long story, but honest and worth the read if we’re going to be partners and family.
THE FINAO TEAM
Twenty-seven caring hearts, curious minds, and talented pairs of hands make up our family.
Tony Randhawa, Owner and CEO
One of the founding partners of Finao, Tony is now the sole owner and CEO. That gives us the benefit of a single vision combined with the institutional memory of Finao's development. Tony grew up in India and came to the US to attend graduate school in Aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan. He found his new home in the midwest and has been here ever since. His vision for Finao includes improving production methods, quality control, and efficiency while maintaining our core values.
Tony looks forward to the post-COVID future of a Finao that focuses on your success, the welfare of our Finao staff family, respecting the environment, and honoring the creative legacy of his late wife, Christine Perry-burke.
Sal Mannino, Facility & Production Manager
After one conversation with Sal, you’ll be struck by his passion for traditional craftsmanship and that he comes by it honestly. Sal got an early start on his family’s lemon farm in Sicily; his grandfather also passed on solid business sense and a killer recipe for Lemoncello.
After honing skills with his own construction company, Sal found a love of bookbinding with the Leather Craftsmen company. His 30 years with LC produced a master craftsman with a skillset bar none. He specializes in custom requests and traditional matted albums and we’ve yet to find his capacity for new ideas. If you can dream it, Sal can make it.
Sal has been with Finao for three years and is the papa bear of our family. His dedication to mentoring is exceeded only by his love for his own family. We are blessed by his drive for quality improvement and leadership that have rejuvenated our production operations.
Phillip Heese, Master Printer & Photo Department Manager
Our Master Printer, Phil, is at the top of his game after more than 30 years in the printing industry. He is a native New Yorker and first began printing in 1989 for a small lab in Westchester. Phil applied his craft to professional albums when he later joined the Leather Craftsmen company as their Photo Department manager. He has since been with the Finao family since 2017 and shares his knowledge and skills with your studios.
Phil has a perpetual love for his Noritsu printer, but the other industry-leading brands we run get attention from his experienced printing staff. Don’t let Phil’s quiet demeanor fool you, though. Behind those earbuds he is probably listening to heavy metal at a jarring volume. I’ll bet that makes him a fun Dad. :-)
Janet Leslie – Director of Marketing & Resident Optimist
Elizabeth Jorge – Production Supervisor
Finao East—New York (Production, Administration, Sales)
20 of the most wonderful people you'll ever meet who just happen to be talented craftspeople and have great taste in work music and potluck food.
Finao West – Michigan (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Image Police, Graphic Design, IT)
7 team members who love to talk to customers and at times resemble a very irreverent version of The Waltons (bonus points if you're old enough to get that reference).
Some zen dogs who mostly nap but also protect the office from marauding squirrels and shake down the neighbors for cookies.
Reflections on Why Finao is Not a Billion Dollar Company.
Well, we certainly would like it to be, but other things are more important to us. Your success. Our craft. Your art. Our values. To make the big bucks happen, we'd have to be large and corporate, and that's not going to happen. We'd rather be about as real as you can get and still sell products. On most days, that feels pretty good.
Sometimes we need to be all serious and businessy, but we'd prefer to be laid-back and doing what we love—creating your stunning, handcrafted albums. You can tell by the way we get all geeked and glassy-eyed when talking about our favorite products. We don't look that way for filing and paperwork, but you can't have it all, right?
We want to make this website a place where it is easy for you to get to know our products, place orders, and get inspired. Most of Finao.com is for you, but this page is about us—where we get to be ourselves. Read on; I think you'll like us.
Finao East. Our production facility is in Syosset, NY, a town on Long Island where the practical magic takes place (yes, seriously, we mean the Made in the USA part). It’s where we show up at the crack of dawn to handcraft your albums. Where talented humans devote the time, skill, care, and pride that goes into every product we create. It can get a little loud there, but not too hot since, in summer 2019, we moved to a building with central air conditioning (yay!).
Our facility is full of connected people—everyone knows each other. Some are related, and some have been with us forever (Nena is Finaon #1). Some people have met at Finao, fell in love, and got married (take that, Match.com!). Some came from other album companies and brought their fabulous experience. Relationship-wise we are, essentially, a family business.
Finao West. We live in two places. Everything officey happens in Saline, Michigan, a small town where you don’t need to lock your car doors in the parking lot. (It’s just outside Ann Arbor for any Wolverine fans out there. If you’re from Ohio, please don’t hate us).
This is our home office. It's where you'll find our phenomenal customer service, Image Police, IT, sales, marketing, graphic design, and the business stuff like finance, administration, and making sure everyone gets paid. When you call our toll-free line you talk to real people in Saline, like Sara and Lynsey. If you hear barking in the background, it's because our dogs come to work, and we get deliveries. No worries, our UPS and FedEx guys know that while they sound like the hounds of hell, they are big softies and will pimp for cookies.
In the Beginning…
Once upon a time, three friends worked for an album company called Art Leather. Christine and Tony, a couple, lived in Michigan, and Keith was a born and bred New Yorker. The writing was on the wall for Art Leather, so these intrepid souls took the plunge, and Finao was born on July 5, 2007.
What’s In a Name?
It’s pronounced Fin-ay-oh (long a, long o, emphasis on the second syllable for anyone who learned phonics in school). The name came from an Ed Harris line in Tony’s favorite movie, Apollo 13—Failure Is Not An Option. We believe that.
Christine was a professional photographer who specialized in seniors. She had style and hated plain black leather albums. Or rather, PBLA being your only choice. At the time weddings were a big deal for album companies. It didn't make sense to her that you could customize every aspect of a wedding to your heart's desire, except for the album.
Couples keep their wedding pictures for a lifetime, long after everyone has forgotten what flavor the cake was. Christine's creative mission was to give them exactly the unique, forever, heirloom album they wanted. Those are our custom, boutique company roots.
Our founders were sticklers for quality and providing a luxury product. To this day, we still handcraft so that your albums will last. Yes, some labs can ship you a machine-made flush album in the blink of an eye. But they run a 24/7 factory and aren't Finao quality.
It's difficult to tell the difference between two album companies from online pictures. But once you've held one of ours, it's clear why it took at least 24 human hands and a bit longer to create it. Some of our albums may cost a little more than the competition, but you get what you pay for. And so do your clients.
We don't make bargain products—no press-printed, magazine-style paper. There are a lot of other places you can get those. We don't offer every add-on product possible because we want to focus on what we do best.
We All Need a Raison D'être
That's the elegant, French way to say 'our reason for being'. Why we're here. Everybody needs one to surf the highs and lows of business and laugh during the ride. Ours is one that is easy to get behind— it's you.
The Finao partners were pretty laid back, humanistic, and inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless of race, religion, sex, gender, or if you prefer ballet or football. We have no judgment or rules about what we will and won't print, as long as it's legal. Art is art, and it's yours to define. That's how we've ended up being the biggest boudoir supplier in the industry.
We make a home for photographers of any specialty—whether your clients want a classic look or love to push the envelope. Our swatch kits have 95 standard choices. But we also have about 300 more cover materials of every possible hue and texture that you can request for no extra cost.
Our website has many standard options, but we also create custom albums straight out of photographers' REM sleep every day. If your client longs for black patent leather, silver hair-on-hide, or metallic crocodile, we have them. If you want an engraved marble cover made from your customer's family keepsake, we're up for the challenge. You never have to create the same album twice, and your work can make a truly unique statement. We are ‘Albums with Attitude'.
Finao was Riding High. But Then, Life Happened
And sometimes the hit is hard. When Finao was at the top of its game, Christine experienced a sudden and severe illness. She did recover, but it was a long and challenging road. Finao’s Queen was a fighter, though, and came back to steer the creative ship for several more years. In late 2016 she passed away. It was a difficult time for our Finao family, and we had a couple of quiet years.
We Were Determined to Be a Phoenix
We started to rebuild, to refresh Finao in keeping with our original mission and values. There have been some challenges and changes, the photography industry and the world being what they are. Keith has retired, and Finao now has a unified mission under Tony's leadership. We have some new team members who contribute fresh experience, ideas, and perspectives. It's a great blend.
We are making changes that result in an even better product with less wastage and higher quality. We've been doing much more custom work behind the scenes and want to offer that to any client who wants it. We look to our customers for their wish lists; we listen and make choices influenced by feedback and requests. If we don't offer what you and your clients want, what's the point? Album companies are everywhere, but we want to do it right.
More Than the Sum of Our Parts
We are more than just Finao—some of your favorite products come from the other side of the world. We are the North American distributors for our friends at Seldex Artistic Albums near Melbourne, Australia. They make some beautiful products that we don't. This way, you can choose from two companies with the convenience of one order, paying in US funds, and avoiding the extra shipping charges. Our partnership with Nicole, Kevin, and the rest of the Seldex team is a good thing that will keep getting better.
OUR MISSION & VALUES
"The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe."
— Simon Sinek
When you become part of the Finao Family, you join a company that believes in:
- Honoring the art of professional photographers and maintaining the integrity of their work
- Creating minimal environmental impact
- Committing to job creation in the USA
- Excellent service as an expectation
- Dedication to being better, different, responsive, and agile
- Fun and engaging interactions for both staff and customers
- Making each product with love and pride in our time-honored craft
- A commitment to using only the best materials and suppliers with shared values
- Striving to make artistic vision, imagination, and innovation the benchmarks of a Finao product
- Being a partner to each client’s studio
- Supporting growth in both Finao and our clients’ business
- Only when you, our Finao family of photographers, succeed have we fulﬁlled our mission