Startups
Acquisitions / Media

Delaware’s Short Order Production House has been acquired by Bowstring Studios

The Conshohocken creative studio plans to keep the film company's First State footprint.

At Bowstring Studios. (Courtesy photo)

It’s official: Wilmington-founded video production firm Short Order Production House is now Short Order, a Bowstring Company, after being acquired by the Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based creative content studio Bowstring Studios.

The two companies have been in each other’s orbits for years — since the “before times,” per Matt Sullivan, formerly Short Order’s director of creative operations. He’s now in the new position of VP of growth, and Zach Phillips, formerly Short Order CEO, is now VP of innovation.

“We knew that we approached the job in a similar way, and as it came to pass, this past year, the conversation expanded into the idea of being more than friendly partners down the road,” Sullivan told Technical.ly. “Zach, for the past year, has been pursuing some new innovation projects within Short Order … and [Bowstring has] better toys. So it gives him a bigger area to play and it gives us a lot more resources. It makes sense for just a wide variety of reasons.”

For Sean Quinn, cofounder of Bowstring, Short Order was a good fit for his 22-year-old company’s goals.

“We’re aggressively looking to grow, and part of that strategy is acquisition,” Quinn said. “We have a number of criteria that we’re looking for, and one of them is definitely people who see the industry in a similar way, who approach client engagements and that sense of collaboration and partnership and long term engagement. We want folks who know what good video content is and looks like and how to get there. And we love the fact that we had a preexisting relationship.”

It’s been an eventful few years for Short Order Production House, who went national with a commercial for Paoli’s DuckDuckGo in the summer of 2019. Even the COVID-19 pandemic brought some opportunity, including the “Stay Connected” PSA for New Castle County and the MidAtlantic Emmy-winning documentary “The Pathway Home,” also with the County.

“I’m not saying we were flying colors straight through [the pandemic], but we found ways to adapt and do things differently,” said Sullivan, who will remain in a Delaware. “I think a lot of the ways we adapted, we found it even easier to move towards ways we could do things that are more remote.”

Zach Phillips directs “Take Back Your Privacy" in H.B. DuPonr Park.

Zach Phillips directs DuckDuckGo’s “Take Back Your Privacy” commercial in H.B. DuPont Park in 2019. (Screenshot)

Short Order’s Delaware presence may include a downtown office, though those details are not yet determined.

“We’re very much in a hybrid model where we have employees in seven different states now that are traveling to client sites,” Quinn said. “The importance of the physical office space has certainly decreased, obviously, over the last several years. If we find the value in having a brick and mortar operation, that’s certainly on the table, but I think we can do a really good job serving our clients in Delaware even if it’s more of a virtual presence, but with folks who are physically there.”

While there will be changes, clients can expect rates to stay about the same, and offerings will increase.

“I’m really excited about what we can offer people,” Sullivan said. “There are some things that we could do, but I didn’t lead with because we didn’t have the internal capabilities, and they personally scare me a little bit. Animation was the one thing I always had the hardest time wrapping my head around. We always had to work with outside vendors. [Bowstring] has animation in house, so when animation is the obvious solution for a client, we’re going to be much more able to talk about that kind of stuff.”

Another advantage is that, with Bowstring having crews that are national and global, faraway projects can be done more seamlessly and less expensively, since they won’t have to fly a crew out for every project.

And national-facing companies like DuckDuckGo, which moved on to larger production companies with more resources, now have more of a reason to come back to Short Order for projects.

While Short Order will officially be a Pennsylvania company, and it will no doubt gain more clients from all over the world, it’s still tied to Delaware, not only with its satellite office but with continued client work and partnerships in the state.

It was an appealing factor in the deal, Quinn said: “Delaware has its own kind of personality, and we love having a local footprint in that market.”

Companies: Short Order Production House

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