Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tokyo mini reunion 2

Mr. Matsuura  organized another mini reunion in Tokyo this time with Dr. Oe, almost single handedly  built Gunma plant and moved on to become CEO of DIC, Mr. Suwa who served as the head of customer service for Polychrome Japan and Mr. Adachi one time plant manager of Gunma in addition to Mr. Hayakawa and Mr. Matsuura himself.       We had a good time reminiscing old Polychrome and those who were at Polychrome Yonkers, Clark and Osterode.     Mr. Matsuura is thinking of another mini reunion this fall.       Dr. Oe would like to visit Boston, NY and Washington DC sometime in future; a good opportunity for us to get together in New York.

from left, Mr. Adachi, me, Mr. Matsuura, Dr. Oe, Mr.Hayakawa and Mr. Suwa

Feb. 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tokyo mini reunion

This is from Tokyo mini reunion held the other night to take advantage of My Nguyen and his wife Nhan's visit to Tokyo.        This was also the occasion to celebrate Mr. Fiji Hayakawa's recent graduation from Kodak.          Mr. Hayakawa ran Polycrome's Gunma plant R&D for many years.     Also present was Mr. Noriyuki Matsuura who was Dr. Oe's right hand while at DIC.    He became the general manager of Kodak Polychrome and then ran Kodak Japan.

(L to R) Mrs Nhan and Dr. My T. Nguen, Mr. Matsuura, Mr. Hayakawa and me in Tokyo

(Feb. 2015)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

On the Upbeat May 1987

Marvin Lester received GATF's Industry Award of Excellence.   He is pictured surrounded by entire Polychrome Pittsburgh sales staff.      Read the nice story about an emergency plate order coming in at 4:40pm Friday and delivered on Monday.      This was a team work of Marv Lester and Tony Annecchiarico but we often heard this kind of dedicated service by Polychrome staff.      Read more of this issue HERE.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Simon Chu saved Polychrome

Everyone knows Simon Chu but not everyone knows what contributions he made to Polychrome as we grew.        He was just a starting quality control chemist after his military service when one day a lot of plates came back due to poor performance almost bankrupting the company.        As you may know the plate then had a very fragile diazo material without protective coating and without protective technology it was natural that it failed in summer heat and humidity.        The leading plate supplier 3M we learned later already had technology to avoid premature aging of diazo.      Polychrome did not know then and did not have such a technology.       Simon quickly came up with a technology later called V coating which stabilized the plate and Polychrome went on to become one of the leading plate suppliers.        The plate technology moved forward a few years later and in late 1960's, he and Gene Golda incorporated this V coating and diazo into a single compound we then called Fotomer to be the basis of all the so-called "subtractive" plate.         The more stable Fotomer was solvent coated on a plate rather than the former "additive" plate coated from water solution.      The unexpected side benefit of using solvent was the increase in production speed and productivity to help transform production lines to  modern ones.

When I arrived Polychrome, Mr. Halpern said "you ought meet Simon but he is not here."     He was in Lebanon to promote plates made in Germany.        In early days of Osterode production, there were numbers of start up technical problems and he was called in to lend his experienced hand in troubleshooting.       Lebanon visit apparently was a simple extension of his support to Osterode production to start sales there.      

He was known to give thorough consideration to all the background, possibility and consequence before giving his final decision but once the decision was made it was often bold and far reaching.    This along with his technical contribution must have been the basis of his being elected as the board member of the company while he was still in his mid 30.

He carefully nurtured our relationship with the licensee, Fuji Photo Film.       He promoted the idea of us being the eyes for Fuji to the world while benefiting production technology in which Fuji excelled.      Despite of some critics saying that we were helping future competitor, he and Bill Salesman  managed to convince Fuji to renew licensing agreement for the second time.          The renewed agreement was significant in  not only bringing continued yearly  licensing revenue but also some key technologies we later benefited greatly.    

The successful licensing to Fuji was followed by new licensing agreement to a Chinese government sponsored company in mid 1980 and then a company in India both of which were started and followed by him carefully.          We were not a big company but was the only one   very internationally advanced  company with presence in US, Europe, Japan, China and India.

He has served Polychrome for over 40 years till 1998 and continued to consult KPG on licensing matters and now enjoys having and seeing his children and grandchildren nearby.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

On the Upbeat May 1986

In this issue Jerry Carey and Tom Saggiamo celebrated their 15th year at Polychrome.    There were 23 members for $100,000 sales club and Bernie Goldman was close to $200,000 mark.   Other headlines are "DGN tops with OK city Printer", "Early Bird catches the Conversion" and so on.      Read all HERE.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thomas Bittner our seventh president

Joe Piot engaged McKinsey & Co. to evaluate Polychrome Europe business.     Thomas Bittner,  the head of the investigating team, later came to run Polychrome Europe           Through acquisition and house cleaning he was able to show well run business in Europe at the time of Mel's departure, and the contrast between European and US business must have been the basis of his elevation to become our seventh president.
His message "simple and honest" was easy to digest and his optimistic and technology friendly views along with his McKinsey trained business acumen made him a very popular and successful president.      The company was transformed under his watch from an old traditional analog products company to a modern digital products company for a renewed growth.
Unfortunately for Polychrome, he chose to return to France when his wife was tapped to become an editor of a very prestigious fashion magazine.       On his return to France he ran a large paper company there.          He has achieved his dream, he said during our reunion dinner in 2012, of owning a winery.       He now produces his own wine as well as olive oil.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

1988 study of ps plate business

In the process of transforming  Mr. Halpern's start up company to medium to a large multinational company, business consultants were hired to analyze our business.       This Nov. 1988 study by a well know consultant was one of many to follow.         It did not predict the digital revolution soon to come and transformation of industry into digital age.         The study, however, shows our competitive advantages and disadvantages as well as our industry position at the time.        It is interesting to read the executive summery;  a bit  pessimistic on Polychrome's future..        The entire presentation is HERE