Magazine Article


News and Notes

Bill Fortney Joins Nikon Professional Services

Nikon Professional Services (NPS) has added veteran nature photographer Bill Fortney to its team of professional markets technical representatives. Fortney's addition to NPS will enhance the support Nikon already provides nature photographers.

"In order to assist and support NPS members, Nikon has assembled a team of PMTRs comprised of expert photographers who have made significant marks in their field of photography," said Bill Pekala, manager of Technical and Professional Services at Nikon Inc. "With nearly 34 years of photographic experience, Bill Fortney brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to NPS, as well as a unique insight into the needs of nature photographers," added Pekala.

After Months of Warning Signs, Gretag Suddenly Implodes

by Jerry Lansky

Citing continuing financial pressures, a troubled world economy and business environment, Gretag announced on Dec. 23 that it was filing for bankruptcy in Swiss courts. The dramatic statement followed three months of press releases from the firm's communications director that tracked a path of announcements of financial restructuring, management changes and operational shifts and, in the end, culminating in the bankruptcy declaration.

"...the problem of over indeptedness (sic), along with the demands on short-term liquidity proved to be insurmountable," the final release read.

The bankruptcy announcement might be an answer, albeit an unpleasant one, to Gretag's creditors but it leaves open all sorts of questions regarding its future in the processing equipment business and trade alliances.

Earlier in December, Gretag announced that there would be a restructuring of its company that would result in the Gretag Imaging Group, the headquarters operation in Regensdorf, Switzerland, focusing only on central lab equipment (CLE). What they refer to as the "retail" business, namely minilabs, would be sold to the management of its Italian subsidiary, San Marco Imaging. San Marco has always manufactured the wet side of the Gretag minilabs for shipment to Regensdorf for final assembly.

In addition, it was said that Gretag would abandon all efforts in the kiosk business and sell Telepix, the Newfoundland firm it purchased in 2000 that specializes in the development of software in a variety of photo industry applications, including kiosks.

(One important event that was not communicated in a company press release but was located on a website called Swissinfo revealed that 400 Swiss-based Gretag employees were given notice on December 24, Christmas Eve. The web story quoted board president, Felix Bagdasarjanz: "Patrick Jung (Gretag's chief) took the decision to send severance notices without consulting the board." Bagdasarjanz also noted that the board believed that firing staff before the end of the year was inappropriate. Dropping 400 employees would essentially gut the Regensdorf facility.)

"At Holyoke, we are continuing business as usual despite the events in Switzerland."

-Mark DeSimone

Efforts to reach executives at Gretag, Switzerland, and San Marco, Italy, for comment, were unsuccessful due to holiday closings.

Not mentioned in any of the communiqués was the entity Gretag Imaging, Inc., a U.S. corporation headquartered in Holyoke, MA and whose stock is totally owned by Gretag. That firm has about 280 employees and is responsible for the sales and service of Gretag equipment in North and South America. Insiders say sales at Holyoke are about $100 million and profitable.

Mark DeSimone, president of Gretag Imaging, said, "At Holyoke, we are continuing business as usual despite the events in Switzerland."

Asked, whether in the light of what had happened in Switzerland would there be any layoffs here, DeSimone said that there was a cutback of about 100 people during this past summer and that no further cuts were anticipated.

Gretag has always been a major exhibitor at the PMA convention. This year's booth commitment is for a 60x100 space making it one of the top 10 largest exhibitors, according to PMA. At press time DeSimone said the plans are to exhibit and PMA confirmed that they have no notice to the contrary.