New owners give old-line Teletech Video a fresh start

Partners Chris Palese, Chris DeWinter and Ashley Nath

The ownership of Teletech Video has passed from the founding family to three energetic employees, who are expanding HD production-to-distribution capabilities and reopening in new “fun, cool space.”

Chris DeWinter, marketing, Chris Palese, operations and Ashley Nath, editor, purchased Teletech Video in August from the heirs of previous owner Jeffrey Huffer, who died in November, 2010 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

The Huffer family, whose roots in film duplication and distribution go back 35 years, started the company in 1989.

The new owners personally financed the purchase and the build-outs for new West Loop offices.

Before joining Teletech Video, the partners had worked together at now-defunct Network Century at 211 E. Grand, a building originally owned by Palese’s family when they also were in the film processing business.

Teletech’s transition to full HD production/post and distribution services began in 2005 when Palese joined the company, reactivated idle Avids and started a creative content division.

Nath also joined Teletech in 2005 and DeWinter followed two years later. 

The company has slimmed down from 13 staffers a year ago to three: Laurie Pritchett, project manager/broadcast traffic coordinator, editor Paul Chin and Alex Nagle, duplication manager, plus a number of permalancers.

“We are now in a great position to further grow the company and serve our clients in this ever-changing landscape of content creation,” notes DeWinter.

Offices has edit suites and graphic stations

In September, the partners closed Teletech’s home of 22 years at 540 N. Lake Shore Drive and spent October building out 5,000-sq. ft. offices on the first floor of a former toy factory at 413 N. Carpenter St.

They installed three editorial suites — one equipped with ProTools for a voiceover booth under construction, three graphic stations, built a shooting stage, added a conference room and equipped a kitchen that was already in place.

In the basement core, Teletech continues to render Blu Ray and DVD duplication, captioning, encoding, conversion to full HD/SD and 2K and 4K workflows, digital mastering online and offline delivery and other services. 

“Now that we’ve got have a fun, cool, great space, with a rooftop deck with a spectacular view, our business is in an even better position to accommodate more of our clients’ requests,” DeWinter says.

Their clients include Empire Carpets, the clients of Michael Walters Advertising, many pharmaceutical agencies, online and independent film producers, production of live sales meetings, PR packages for distribution “and a lot of white label work people don’t know it’s us,” he chuckles.

Huffer family duplication/distribution leaders

The late Lois Huffer, a D&D marketing expert, founded Teletech in 1989 with her two sons, Jeffrey, operations and Robert (who died in 2009) sales, with Sears as their key account. 

Jeffrey’s son, Michael, a motion graphic artist, became the third generation to work in the family business.  He left Teletech for other pursuits after the recent sale.

It’s hard to imagine past content delivery services when digital and satellite services routinely send out today’s broadcast materials, but for nearly 40 years, some 10-15 companies competed for the lucrative business.

Prints of ommercials, and other film genres, were duplicated from 35mm negatives and later from one-inch video masters.  They were shipped to broadcast outlets according to complex airdate schedules provided by an agency’s media and traffic departments.

Teletech, along with TeleVersions and Global Video, are the three remaining successors to those earlier D&D companies.