Magazine Article


Integra Looking to 'Seamless' Transition for Agfa Service

“Our mission is to make the transition of the service and parts operation for Agfa products as seamless as possible for Agfa dealers.”

This is the declaration made by Ron Skaggs, president and co-founder of Integra Technologies, the Austin, Texas firm that has taken over the service, parts and chemical responsibility for the base of about 3,000 Agfa minilabs currently installed in the United States and Canada.

The January 27 announcement made by Bing Liem, president of AgfaPhoto, USA, that Integra will be the service provider had to bring a sigh of relief to Agfa lab owners in North America who have been standing on one foot ever since the Agfa debacle started unfolding in Germany. Of prime concern to the lab owners who have made investments of up to $200,000 for an Agfa system has been parts and service continuity. It has been fodder for a variety of Internet websites as dealers openly expressed their frustrations and fears.

Integra has entered into two agreements, according to Skaggs. One involved the purchase of the service and parts assets of AgfaPhoto USA; the other, a supply agreement with a&o Group, the firm that purchased Agfa’s parts and chemical facilities in Germany.

Integra will continue, on a smaller scale, Agfa’s service facility in Plymouth, MN, and has purchased all remaining parts inventory, training materials and other related assets. Parts will be inventoried in Chicago, Illinois, moving from the Agfa Atlanta, Georgia operation.

The Agfa service telephone number remains as 800.926.2432.

In addition, Integra has made a deal with AgfaPhoto USA president, Bing Liem, to assume outstanding warranty obligations. According to Liem, there are about 100 systems that still have some level of warranty and that it will take a few years for all obligations to be fulfilled.

Liem said there were also about 500 dealers who have Agfa service contracts and that refunds have been made to those dealers whose contracts extended beyond the January 31 shutdown of AgfaPhoto.

Skaggs said Integra would be offering four levels of new service contracts ranging from unlimited telephone tech service to a premium care plan involving parts, service, and travel.

Under the pact, Integra is taking over about 20 of Agfa’s service personnel including John Hefner, eastern territory service manager; Mike Brown, western, and Chuck Schmidt, mass merchant service specialist. In addition, Integra has its own staff of about 20 field techs that has been servicing imaging products of Cymbolic Sciences, a former Gretag operation. Skaggs was previously responsible for all service for the Americas and Asia for Cymbolic. He said both service staffs would be cross-trained for all products.

Bing Liem said that while AgfaPhoto USA ceased formal operations on January 31, some personnel are being retained in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey headquarters for the collection of outstanding debts and other matters. Dan Unger and Craig Wetherbee, two key staffers, are also being retained for the present.

There will be an Agfa presence at PMA, though it won’t be the major display booth that it had earned over the years. Skaggs said that he was working with PMA for some space to meet with dealers but as of this writing, details were not yet formalized. In addition to himself, other Integra folks will attend: Gene Peck, vice president and co-founder; Mark Miller, partner, sales and marketing; and Robert Heath, chairman.

Also, PMA staff has scheduled a last minute Agfa user group meeting to be held on Monday from 3:30pm-5:30pm at room 311EH of the Orlando Convention Center. PMA’s Gary Pageau, will be the meeting’s moderator. He indicated the purpose was to have a forum for all parties to provide information so that Agfa lab owners can move ahead positively with their businesses. It is expected that executives from AgfaPhoto USA, Integra, a&o group, and the six Agfa wholesale distributors in the United States will be in attendance.

This unique meeting was apparently the result of the efforts of Phil Gresham, owner of Fotofast, a lab in Australia. Unlike the United States, where Bing Liem and staff worked hard to bring the Agfa situation to an orderly closedown, dealers in places like Australia and the United Kingdom were abruptly cut off as their country’s sales operations went into bankruptcy immediately following the demise of the German parent.

With parts, service, and chemicals now in place, the future of the Agfa equipment line remains unresolved. There has been a hint that possibly a group of Agfa executives in Germany are trying to purchase the yet unsold minilab product line and manufacture facility and maybe even the Agfa name. No official comment on this.