Film and single-use cameras have been an important part of the Agfa picture in the past and Bing expects that to continue. They claim the title of largest private label film supplier in the world with such accounts as Wal-Mart and Walgreens in this country. "We will continue to be aggressive in private label film. It is a positive sector for us."
With the overall market for film shrinking Bing expects some consolidation in the industry. Besides Agfa, the major private label suppliers are Konica, Fuji and Ferrania (formerly Imation & 3M). AgfaPhoto is expecting to be more price competitive in the single use camera arena and is looking for an increase in penetration.
At photokina a new generation of 35mm Vista film was introduced in 100, 200, 400 and 800 speeds. APS remains in the line.
AgfaPhoto also introduced at photokina a-REDC for 'automatic red eyes detection and correction.' The technology will be available in its entire digital line of both retail and wholesale lab equipment though, when I discussed the system with Bing Liem and Dan Unger it had not yet been decided whether to offer the feature as standard or as an option. Fuji also announced automatic red-eye correction at the show and it will first be seen on its new Frontier 375. Noritsu will include it in its new Model 3311.
To streamline its customer communications, Agfa has completed the structure of what it calls its Customer Care Center. This is a facility set up in Minneapolis with a team of about 70 people to handle every manner of customer requirement from a single location by calling a single telephone number: 800-926-AGFA.
A dealer would call that number to talk with the credit department, the order department, for tech service and tech support. About 50 field service techs, working throughout the country, are dispatched from this center which is under the management of Joe Borgstrom, director of operations.
Dan Unger said that the single call center "has eliminated hassles for the dealer." "The Customer Care Center takes ownership of whatever the issue may be," he said. "We are able to take care of customers faster and better."
Dan indicated that many Agfa minilab sites have broadband Internet service available and an increasing amount of remote service diagnostics is being done remotely as part of the Agfa service contract. The care center is the focus of that analysis.Jerry Lansky is president of MiniLab Consultants, Inc., P.O. Box 475, Colts Neck, NJ 07722. Tel: (732) 946-8484. E-mail: Jlansky@att.net
In addition to the CCC Minneapolis facility, AgfaPhoto maintains operations in Scranton, PA, for consumables and finished goods and Atlanta for parts. Headquarters for AgfaPhoto remains in Ridgefield Park, NJ.