ZINK TO BUY KONICA-MINLOTA’s U.S. PLANT
ZINK TO BUY KONICA-MINLOTA’s U.S. PLANT
2007-06-20 at 11:27:00 am #18334
Zink to Buy KMMU Plant
WALTHAM, Mass., June 2007 — Waltham, Mass.-based Zink Imaging, developer of “zero ink” technology that enables printing of color images and photos without ink, ribbons or toner from mobile electronic devices, announced today it will buy a Whitsett, N.C., facility owned by Konica Minolta Manufacturing USA Inc. (KMMU) in which it will make paper for use in its printers. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.The site is a coating and chemical mix facility originally built in 1989 for the production of Konica Minolta imaging products. Zink Imaging said it will hire KMMU employees now working there to assist in the manufacturing of its paper — an advanced composite material with dye crystals embedded inside and a protective polymer overcoat layer outside.Before printing, the embedded dye crystals are clear, so the paper looks like regular white photocopy paper, the company said. A Zink-enabled printer uses heat to activate and colorize these dye crystals. Zink said its products, which will integrate the printers in cell phones and other devices, are expected to be available late this year.“We are quite pleased to be able to extend our manufacturing operations beyond our headquarters in Massachusetts to the Konica Minolta facility in North Carolina,” said Wendy Caswell, president & CEO of Zink Imaging. “The Konica Minolta manufacturing site is synergistic with our existing operations, which made the decision to purchase the facility a natural one.”
Konica sale keeps plant open
WHITSETT — A Boston company is buying the Konica Minolta Manufacturing plant that was due to close this year, allowing 60 remaining workers to keep their jobs.Zink Imaging will begin operating the photo-paper plant July 2, said Bob Harris, president of Konica Minolta Manufacturing USA.Konica Minolta announced last year that it would shut down operations here because digital photography has reduced sales of its photo paper. At the time, the Japanese company, which is pulling out of the camera and photo business, had planned to close the plant and lay off all of its workers. Harris said 160 already have lost their jobs permanently.But a new technology developed by Zink is taking photo paper into the digital age while still using Konica’s equipment and remaining employees.Zink says its new type of “zero ink” photo paper is much simpler than photo papers prior to computer imaging.The company’s paper is an advanced composite material with dye crystals embedded inside, the company said, and a protective polymer overcoat layer outside.It looks like regular white photo paper, the company said, but a Zink printer uses heat to activate and color these dye crystals.Konica Minolta began working with Zink last fall, helping it develop products, and the relationship grew from there, said Harris, who will continue to run the plant. The new product has so much potential, Harris said, that this factory could eventually increase production.The advanced-manufacturing workers at the factory will make an average of more than $50,000 a year in salary and benefits. Its total payroll is about $10 million a year, Harris said.
The company may seek local economic development incentives to help it expand, Harris said.Harris worked hard to find a buyer and keep the operation running, said Richard Beard, a partner in Simpson, Schulman & Beard, which manages Rock Creek Center, where Konica Minolta is based.”He had his fingers crossed,” Beard said. “He went in a lot of different directions trying to keep that operation going. He really deserves a lot of credit.”Zink bought the 300,000-square-foot factory and 80 acres, Beard said. Harris declined to disclose the purchase price.The most recent tax records from Guilford County set the value of property at 6900 Konica Drive, the location of the plant is, at more than $45.4 million. The building and land alone are worth about $18.5 million, county tax records show.