Lismore Mirror Images owner Peter Cloutier.
Lismore Mirror Images owner Peter Cloutier. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Proud father's picture perfect story

IT HAS been a busy time for the Cloutier family of Lismore.

Peter Cloutier celebrated the 20th anniversary of his Lismore business, Mirror Images last week.

Meanwhile his daughter, Sarah Cloutier, recently became general manager of the Melbourne arm of Digital Pictures, overseeing the company's day-to-day operations, technical pipeline and business development.

They are both essentially in the same ballpark: one specialises in printing, copying and laminating images; the other is an expert in the post-production and visual effects environment for broadcast, film and commercials but Mr Cloutier modestly refuses to draw any comparisons.

He says Mirror Images' survival throughout two decades is because it is "a good honest business".

"We've made lots of friends, but we haven't made a fortune," he said. "It's difficult to know how you can do that honestly these days."

He has watched the emergence of high-powered computers - and the growth in technical skills in the general population - change his business style, pushing out the demand for posters and other items on the retail side to create space for bigger laminating machines and other equipment.

But he says "there is still a steady demand for custom printing".

Business comes in a variety of forms, from service sheets for funerals, business cards, flyers and people wanting items to be scanned and visually enhanced.

Mr Cloutier says he has picked up the necessary new skills over the years "by osmosis".

Formerly an agricultural scientist, he credits his ability to keep up with technology to his training - his interest, as a science graduate, in new knowledge and its application.

And anyway, he says that most of the changes have been gradual.

"It's surprising how much is still the same."

The work keeps him young, he says, and although he is 73 and recovering from a hip replacement surgery, he has no intention of retiring.

"I'm not a frustrated bowler or fisherman," he said, "and I enjoy the challenges."

The biggest challenge, business-wise, is from the larger operations and their economies of scale.

"While I think we provide the most comprehensive service in town, there are pressures on pricing."

But his success will continue to be based on giving people what they want, he said.

"We provide a very personal service, and we'll do small jobs the others wouldn't look at, such as a run of 100 business cards.

"It's very person to person."

And his customers are very loyal.

"We had a lady in today who can remember when we opened."

Mr Cloutier is hugely proud of his daughter, and her success "in a pretty high-powered field".

Ms Cloutier is a Kadina High School old girl who went to a TV school in Sydney and worked in the industry in Australia before heading to the UK.

For the past several years she worked at BSkyB's London facility and launched its 3D channel in 2010.

She specialises in leadership and technology strategy in the post-production and visual effects environment for broadcast, film and commercials.



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