Nursing homes have been very, very good to Jim Delaney.

As president of Sentimental Productions, Delaney describes his business as a "video publisher as much as a video production company" that specializes in creating nostalgic videos and DVDs for the senior citizen market.

Before Delaney founded his company, he served as metro editor for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He realized his opportunities to move up in the ranks of Gannett, the parent company, required moving to other cities, but he wanted to raise his family here. Considering future employment options, Delaney turned to a hobby. Having worked at WCPO-TV Channel 9, he was knowledgeable in both broadcasting and editing. He used these skills to create slide shows for families celebrating special occasions. Eventually, he was asked to produce a movie.

Sentimental Productions began in 1988 with the production of The Unsinkable Delta Queen. The idea began germinating when Delaney was asked to produce a movie about Betty Blake, the woman who saved the Delta Queen steamboat from destruction. The film was also designed to help publicize Tall Stacks, which was celebrated for the first time that year. Delaney approached WKRC-TV Channel 12 with the idea, and the station accepted. Delaney produced the video, featuring Channel 12 anchors, and got the home movie rights to the production.

The Sentimental Productions label began with that single video production and a small storefront office. Delaney quickly started creating other historical and nostalgic videos.

One of the popular ones features the story of Burma-Shave signs. Common along state routes from the 1920s through the 1960s, the signs featured clever phrases and slogans. Burma Shave is regarded as one of the most memorable advertising campaigns in history, and the precursor to modern roadside billboards. But Delaney had another challenge. "Our company needed to find an audience for profitable business."

He found a niche with seniors. Activity directors in nursing homes began clamoring for videos to show to their residents. They even suggested that Delaney produce more videos containing music. So "we took old songs in the public domain and put them onto tape," Delaney says. Sentimental Productions has produced 17 of these sing-a-longs.
Sentimental Reflections, a quarterly video magazine, is the company's newest product. Delaney returned to the idea of nostalgic films, but decided to use a television magazine format. He learned from customers that a 50-minute video on one topic could be considered too long. With the TV magazine approach, more topics are covered at a faster pace.

Delaney points out that a quarterly video magazine makes for a solid business plan as well. Sentimental Reflections is sold as a yearly subscription, rather than as separate DVDs. Delaney explains that this sales idea can be compared to the difference between a book and a magazine. If shoppers don't like the topic of a book, they don't buy it. Magazines can attract more readers by covering a variety of topics and interests.

Each installment of Sentimental Reflections offers many different segments, including a cover story. These segments tell some of the most intriguing tales in American history, from Will Rogers to the steamboat Arabia. The video magazine also has a travel segment called "Off the Beaten Path." The regular feature "On a Musical Note" showcases music festivals and competitions, as well as old songs performed by the Sentimental Entertainers music group. "Scenic America" gives viewers a look at beautiful places around the country. The video magazine adds nostalgia to the mix with "Time Capsules," which uses pieces of vintage film and audio ranging from early Oldsmobile commercials to newsreel footage. A trivia section at the end of each video quizzes viewers on information contained in the features. By mixing nostalgia, Americana and music, Sentimental Reflections is an ideal entertainment fit for residents and directors at nursing and retirement homes.

Sentimental Productions"”which started with one employee and one vide'”now employs 15 people and has produced more than 30 videos. Delaney reports his company has sold more than 100,000 sing-a-longs and more than 200,000 products total. Evidence of this rapid growth can be seen in the piles of videos stacked throughout the company's building in lower Fairmount.

Though the enterprise has become successful, Delaney warns that achievement did not come easily or quickly. His son, Patrick, is vice president. "My dad thought the Delta Queen movie would make him millions," he recalls. That was not to be. Building a successful venture took more time and money than Jim Delaney expected"”and considerable "sweat equity" of hard work and long hours. "Anyone starting a business has to be optimistic, but their optimism must be tempered with business reality."