Spotlight on Patrick Jung
Chief Executive Officer of the Gretag Group
by Dan Havlik
Reorganized the company's structure. Before we had four business
units, we now operate with a more traditional business structure.
We've developed a new business plan that we feel very comfortable
with, and that concentrates on our core businesses, our strengths
in consumer imaging. We've also created a new management team.
We've looked into our organization as well as outside to pull
together an executive management team that is experienced and
competent, and that shares the same guiding values of openness and
transparency, confidence and teamwork, responsibility and
reliability, promptness and efficiency, and an ability to focus on
the issues affecting us as a company.
The second feature that separates Gretag kiosks from competitive models is our operating software, our Image2Print software. This is really the heart of any kiosk. We've developed the software to provide the consumer with an easy-to-use and intuitive experience that makes printing pictures from digital camera media as easy as having their film images printed. And best of all, the consumer can easily enhance their images, print greeting cards, calendars, etc. in a couple of simple steps. The software is also what makes our kiosks capable of interfacing to any digital minilab, or photo-quality printers such as dye-sublimation or ink jet printers, or other technologies such as Polaroid's Opal printing technology.While many digital camera users print their images at home, it has been difficult to get them to print at retail. Name three things that need to change to get more consumers to print their digital images in a photo retailer's store. Those that are currently printing at home consist of the people who are into new technology, and they may continue to print at home. They love the technology for itself. When digital cameras get entrenched with the so-called "soccer moms," they will need an easy way to get prints. They will want prints of their kids, of family events, etc. Retailers have to let their customers know that they can print their digital images. They need to promote digital services to their customers, and to consumers in general.
Secondly, the consumer needs to know that the quality and cost of getting prints of their digital images is more efficient and cost effective, with higher quality, through their on-site retail location versus printing at home on their PC's printer. And through a retail location, you are exposed to new products and services, as they become available.
And lastly, the consumer needs to know that printing of their digital images is easy and simple, like the service they receive for their film-based pictures. They don't need special training etc.You and other industry leaders have predicted that digital kiosks will turn up in a variety of locations where there are picture-takers, such as at sporting arenas, in malls and hotels or on cruise ships. If this does happen, won't that take away from consumers actually visiting photo retail stores to print their images? Yes, it probably will to a certain degree. We'll see a shift, but the total volume can very well increase with more options and availability of print processing. This shift is another opportunity for the retailers to take part in. Actually, when you have kiosks in a whole variety of venues, you'll see people printing even more images. The convenience will actually, I believe, increase the number of images that are printed. The easier, the more convenient the method, the more use you'll see. You've been a proponent of the imaging industry capitalizing on the "Infoimaging" market? While the term "Infoimaging" has been a hot buzzword among manufacturers, how do the little guys, i.e. Photo specialty stores, get a piece of what Kodak has described as a "$225 billion industry created by the convergence of image science and information technology." As with any product market, the "Photo Specialty Store" needs to provide more value-added services to their customers and extend their offerings to things like new photo-related devices and products to increase their revenue.
They need to give the consumer a reason to come into their shop over a competitive location. The "specialty photo store" needs to provide the services that the consumer wants, while at the same time seeking additional services and products not traditionally found in these locations.At PMA 2002, Gretag unveiled Version 4.0 of its image2print software for kiosks, which is being used not only by Gretag, but also in kiosks from Polaroid and Olympus, among others. What is this software all about? I briefly talked about our Image2Print software earlier, but this is the heart of our kiosk, as well as anyone else's. This is what allows the kiosk to talk to the printer, no matter what type or make - minilab, photo-quality ink jet, dye-sub, etc., and transmit and convert the customer's images into prints. Our Image2Print software is compatible with most competitive digital minilabs and other photo-quality printers. This is what we talk about when we refer to it being an "open architecture system." The front end of our Image2Print software has been designed to be very easy to use so that the consumer, no matter what "technology" comfort level, can quickly and in a timely fashion generate high quality prints of their digital camera images. The software has also been developed to give the user many options as to products, image enhancements, etc. In all the hoopla over digital kiosks at PMA, it was easy to overlook printers, minilabs and central labs, which have long been Gretag's bread and butter. What are some of the latest products Gretag is offering in these areas? Gretag has a host of new products that it has introduced in the last six months or so, even prior to PMA. The Cyra Digital system was introduced for the central lab environment, and provides a full high-speed digital system for high productivity environments that you find in the so-called central lab. The system has modules for scanning, printing, and reorders functions, and can be installed separately or as one system. Also, our Synex Lab Data Management (LDM) system dramatically improves workflow in the lab, and is the first management system for the lab that implements version 4.0 of PfDF standard.
For the retail on-site marketplace we've announced our new digital minilab, the Eomotion minilab, which is a digital minilab that provides many digital services, yet is affordable and allows a lower cost entry point to digital. We've also introduced what we call a "bridge solution" making our analog minilab available to provide digital services. This is particularly important to those thousands of retailers who have Gretag analog minilabs because it allows them to offer a number of digital services without having to buy a new digital minilab. Of course, as digital grows, the need for a full digital minilab becomes a necessity, but this bridge solution helps those retailers to start promoting digital services through their locations and build up the business.Eastman Kodak recently signed an agreement to acquire approximately 5% of Gretag's outstanding shares. What was the reason for this acquisition and how will it effect Gretag's future? Apparently, this is an indication that they do feel they have an interest in our continued operation. With our past history and relationship, their interest seems to be a natural extension.
Gretag and Kodak have been business partners for years. They have installed nearly 11,000 minilabs, Gretag minilabs, throughout the world, so Kodak and Gretag are not new to partnering. They are an important distributor of our equipment, and therefore have special interests in our continued success.
When you look at the markets that we as separate companies address-the on-site and central lab photo processing markets. We do share common goals, problems etc. So, it's only natural that we continue to have formal business relationships. Currently we have OEM agreements with Kodak to supply the new digital minilab to Kodak. It's called the Gretag DLS, and is the Kodak version of our MasterFlex Digital minilab. We're also installing our Synex Lab Data Management System that implements the new version 4.0 of PfDF, and dramatically improves workflow in their central labs. It also allows these labs to have the foundation for implementing digital technology and introducing digital equipment into their lab's workflow, alongside their "traditional" analog equipment.
With a history of providing minilabs to Kodak's Qualex program, we are also supplying spare parts. Part of our redefined relationship, we have negotiated to continue that, as well as to provide Kodak with the assurance that they will always have access to spare parts for the multitude of minilabs that they have in the marketplace.
As to the investment in Gretag, and the approximately 5% interest in the company, I look at this as Kodak's confidence in our abilities to perform as a company. Obviously, it does help to ensure our financial stability.