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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

Technology—Photogenix developing new niche for digital pix

Technology: Pushes Retail High-Speed Photo Printing

The crucial moment arrives and the person holding the digital camera commits the scene to electronic memory. Done.

Now comes the moment Fred Heigold wants to seize.

Heigold is CEO of Phogenix Imaging, a company working in Rancho Bernardo to create a new generation of digital photo finishing machines for retailers. Their market is drug stores, one-hour photo shops and even spots where you would not think of finding such machines.

Instead of chemical technology, Phogenix machines would use the ink jet printing technology that is the specialty of Rancho Bernardo neighbor Hewlett-Packard Co.

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The Palo Alto-based company is one parent of the young Phogenix. The other parent is Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak Co.

Phogenix is not shy about telling people of its lineage. The pedigree “open a lot of doors,” said Heigold.

Phogenix was established in April. The company will work to place its photo finishing machines in “high-profile locations worldwide” for marketing trials during the third quarter of this year, said John Ward, vice president and chief marketing officer. Delivery on the first new units will be in the first quarter of 2002, he said.

Initially, the final product will be assembled in San Diego, Ward said.

Phogenix officials want its machines to produce high-quality, durable, long-lasting photographic prints at speeds rivaling a one-hour shop, using digital inkjet technology. Officials said they exhibited such prints and got good reviews at the Photokina show in Cologne, Germany during the fall.

Speed is crucial. If you don’t have it, “it’s not going anywhere,” said Heigold.

Prints will resist fading and just like prints available now, will include a clear overcoat that may be wiped clean.

Since the new breed of machine would produce photos without chemicals, disposal concerns and specialized employee training (for a high-turnover job) would be a thing of the past, company officials said.

The digital machines could ship or receive images over the Internet. That, combined with the chemical-free process, could put photo finishing in unconventional places like hotel lobbies and airports, Ward said.

As it got started, Phogenix had an unusual management structure. It had co-CEOs, with Heigold and Hewlett-Packard alum William J. Lloyd sharing the role.

Lloyd resigned the job Dec. 1 to take an executive job at another company.

Heigold said the arrangement was good during the start-up phase, but now was a time to put the company’s plan into action. In a written statement, Kodak Senior Vice President and Phogenix board member Jim Stoffel said it was “time to strengthen the organization in the areas of product manufacturing, supply chain management and order fulfillment.”

The company had 60 employees as of early December and should grow to 120 this year, said Heigold.

Earnings are split evenly between Kodak and H-P, he said, adding that Phogenix is not planning to go public.


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