Robert Davis, president of Bremson Data Systems was an industry leader, a talented engineer, and full of technical ideas to help the photo labs be more productive in the future. He will be remembered by many in the photo industry, but particularly by those in the professional people lab business, for being the first to use computers to automate production. [Editor's note: PTN spoke with some of the people who were closest to Robert, for their thoughts on what he meant to the industry.]
"In the 70s it was tough going," said Richard Miller, president of Miller Imaging. "The Bremson Data System was the start of automation in the labs; pieces of the basic system are still in use today. Even when we wrote our own software we still have [kept] certain structural components of Rob's. It was the leader and even ProShots had to interface with Bremson."
Miller was an early president of BUG, Bremson Users' Group, one of the first in the industry whose success laid the foundation for other user groups.
"Rob was a good manager of his people, plus he listened and reacted to customers. He was just a heck of a nice guy, always smiling."
"I sat on the BUG board two times with Rob," lamented Bob Hendrickson, Buckeye Color. His BUG was unusual…the nucleus of networking that gave me years of joy. So many of us wouldn't be where we are today without Rob, BUG, and his systems. Rob is special in my heart."
Rick Israel of Photographic Applications Engineering, was an engineering student and working for Nord and when he met Rob in 1970. They collaborated on the birth of the Dynamite drawer for the small lab. "Rob was the point man and instrumental in its success with Lucht printers. He was a good friend."
Larry Anderson, The Image Place, probably knew Rob better than anybody. When he was VP, Marketing and sales for Bremson (1983-1994), he and Rob traveled the world selling Bremson full systems and drawers for small labs. They also promoted the CVIS video analyzer overseas. "Rob won and Academy Award for the CVIS for motion picture."
"Rob was so far ahead of the game, putting computers into optical equipment…he had the foresight of what they could do for lab production," continued Anderson. "He also was smart enough to select DEC (the computer leader at that time) to run the systems…not just people labs, but sports and networking…all areas of the industry."
"My business today is what Rob and I developed together (in the 80s), and we're still using it," said Arden Glanzer, Northwest Professional Color. "Rob was a great guy."
Davis and Anderson solidified Bremson's relationship with Eastman Kodak. Rick Jiloty, Doug Smith (deceased), Ray Demoulin, and Arnie Stewart were former Kodak people who supported Rob and Bremson. Kodak ultimately acquired Bremson.
Ron Waters, a former Eastman Kodak professional imaging specialist (most recently president of Durst U.S.), who interfaced with Davis and his BUG group lamented: "Rob was a terrific individual—a person that always followed through on commitments and did the right thing for his customers and his company. He was a person who respected and [received] the respect from his industry colleagues and his employees. What I will remember most about Rob is he always had a big smile and that can-do positive attitude that we all learned to appreciate and love."
Anderson is well known for organizing the ProLab Golf Classic in 1985; however, "Without Rob's blessing and financial support, ProLab would not be an annual industry event today. Hopefully it will carry on in Rob's name."
Robert C. Davis died peacefully in his sleep on June 20. He was 66 years old and is survived by his wife, Joan, and sons, Kirk and Mark. His smiling face and contributions to the photo lab industry will be long remembered.
This reporter will sorely miss Rob at the next Prolab Golf Classic. He was my golf cart driver and record keeper while I did the photography, as we drove around some of the finest golf courses in the country.