Saturday, October 22, 2016

About Mr. Gumbinner 1

About Mr. Gumbinner 1          By Mr. Gumbinner  

Robert Gumbinner:

I joined Polychrome in February 1946 and worked there for 35 years. I started as the only chemist. After a few years we hired other chemists, Bob Teichner, Cort Briggs, Walter Kropf, who worked on mimeograph inks, and Sandy Marcus. I was the only employee with an engineering degree until we started to construct the D-line and hired Stan Mikrut, a mechanical engineer, and Ray Kryloski, a draftsman, to assist me and do the detail. Later, we hired Dr Huang, a PhD chemical Engineer, and Ed Lowell, an industrial engineer. In the early years, I would at times be the plant manager, assistant treasurer, quality control supervisor as the situation required it. As the company grew, I became a vice president and finally an Executive Vice President in charge of research, development, manufacturing, and engineering; then ultimately Senior Executive Vice President. In 1959, Mr. Halpern sold me several thousand shares of Polychrome stock at book value. Later I was granted options and I acquired more shares.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mr. Halpern episode 3

Mr. Halpern episode 3          As recalled by Mr. Bob Gumbinner

We leased space at the corner of Ashburton and Warburton, which had been a supermarket, to store rolls or stencil and other paper and to finish the paper offset plates. When the time came to move in Mr. Halpern, without any previous study came there ignored the layout which I had made and directed where he wanted things located. When we lost the lease for this building, Mr. Halpern and I looked at several buildings on Wadsworth Ave. We did rent the one on the corner of Wadsworth and Ashburton. Mr. Halpern on looking at the building next to it which had been constructed very simply hired the architect who had designed it, Joe Roth, to build the 12,000 square foot building on the 2 Ashburton Ave. When the building at 137 Alexander St. was finished, I had to leave for a week, possibly go to the German plant, when I returned instead of the orderly transfer of the stencil finishing equipment and the layout I had planned, Mr. Halpern had everything picked up and moved and the installation started. Not only was production unnecessarily interrupted but we had a poor material flow.

In another instance, Mr. Halpern added a chemical to the stencils that was supposed to increase the shelf life. It was done without my knowledge. Thereafter, operators on that line started to have eyesight issues. I investigated the situation and determined that the cause of the eyesight problem was the chemical that Halpern added. I removed it from the formulation without telling Halpern or anyone. The eyesight problems went away. It could have been a field day for the tort lawyers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mr. Halpern episode 2

Mr. Halpern episode 2                    As recalled by Mr. Bob Gumbinner

Mr. Halpern would make instant decisions without studying the possibilities. As far as sales, advertising and marketing go they were good; but about production and similar matters, they could be costly errors. When I became a vice president and was away from the plant for several days, I worried about what I would find when I returned. The most costly error was when we started to manufacture subtractive plates. We built a room with a silica gel drier and HEPA filters in which we installed a meniscus coater. As our sales increased, we installed a similar coater in an enclosed area along the wall if the first coater. Since these coaters operated at less than 10 feet a minute, Mr. Halpern decided that one man could run both coaters so he ordered the wall between them taken down. We were never able to clean up the dirt this caused and operate these coaters. About three months later we had installed the C-line and used this line instead. One of these coaters we sent to our German factory. In order to transport it to Osterode, we had to use a helicopter to lift it over a narrow, low railroad overpass.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mr. Halpern episode 1

Mr. Halpern episode 1                   as recalled by Mr. Bob Gumbinner

Mr. Halpern several times signed contracts without any concern for “What If”. He assumed that everything would go as he expected. When I pointed out the possibility that the products would not work, he still signed the contracts and it cost us money to cancel them. Two of these that I remember were with a German firm for rubber blankets for the offset presses and with an Italian firm for a number of solutions to be used for printing processes. He was about to sign a contract to distribute masking tape in the USA with an English manufacturer when Ray Lauzon put a piece of the tape along with a piece of 3M tape on a presensitized plate and put the plate in an exposure frame. When the plate was developed, the 3M tape place was clean, the new tape picked up some of the red lacquer. The tape representative could not understand this since he had been selling the tape without complaints. I explained to him that these customers were taping the black part of the negatives to the masking sheets and could have use transparent tape. The English manufacturer then changed the dyes and we successfully sold the tape.

Friday, September 30, 2016


POLYCHROME People 5          as remembered by Mr. Bob Gumbinner

Of course we did hire some very competent people. One person, Howard Horton, was hired as sales manager. This was at the time we were working with Kodak on plates for their Verifax copier. I was present in Mr. Halpern’s house when he interviewed Howard Horton and told him that he would have a free hand to run the sales department. Since sales were Mr. Halpern’s forte, this did not happen. Mr. Horton left after six months.

James Graves, who started with Polychrome first as a salesman and then the manager of our Baltimore Office, became the Vice-President for sales. Frank Niemeyer and then Seth Cross were competent Advertising Managers. Bernard Gold was hired as our Chief Accountant and became a Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Simon Chu, who Mr. Halpern got in touch with from Simon’s Uncle Bill Moran, was a excellent Chemist and became a Vice President. I hired Dr. Delos Bown when the American Chemical Society had their annual meeting in New York City. I had rented a room to interview candidates in a hotel. I went home at night. When I returned in the morning my papers were gone. Since I did not sleep there, housekeeping threw them away. After much effort I was able to retrieve them. We were fortunate in employing Leo Golusinsk, who had been a General Foreman at Alexander Smith carpet Mills, as plant manager. When they closed, we hired several other people including Jack Roberts, who had run an offset duplicator there, to run our duplicator and test plates as well as do printing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


POLYCHROME People 4   as recalled by Mr. Bob Gumbinner

Charles de Rohan (Baron): When Mr. Berkey, the owner of Berkey Photo in Long Island talked to Mr. Halpern about joining with Polychrome, Mr. Halpern suggested he buy Polychrome stock. When he bought 11%, Mr. Halpern became concerned and made a deal with Englehard to buy this 11% back. He put a representative of Englehard on the Board of Directors and paid them several hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees. de Rohan was connected to the Englehards. He was mostly bluster. He asked Mr. Halpern for one hundred thousand dollars to buy Polychrome stock. He did not last long.

Dean Hennesy had been the Dean of Chemical Engineering at Columbia. Mr.Halpern did not realize that a Dean’s job was mostly administration and did not require research ability. After a time, Mr. Halpern asked him to resign. Dean Hennesy had a contract with Polychrome that required us to pay his salary for a number of years after leaving.

(Wes Hennesy became our 2nd president....for more detail see the blog article HERE ...KS)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Jeff Jacobson to lead Xerox

Just learned that Jeff Jacobson who rose from HR of Polychrome to lead Kodak Polychrome now leads the Xerox Corporation.        Good luck and congratulations!

HERE is the announcement found in local paper