(The following remarks by Nu-kote International Inc. Chairman and CEO David Brigante were on Saturday, July 20, at a ceremony to celebrate the expansion of Nu-kote’s Ridgeway Avenue plant.)
Welcome to Nu-kote and today’s open house here in Rochester. Today we are rededicating this manufacturing facility following a series of initiatives to modernize and upgrade the plant and to assist our employees in continuously upgrading their skills to meet the high tech challenges of the 21st century. These efforts are part of a broad effort by all of us at Nu-kote to be at the forefront of the imaging supplies growth curve. They are also the kinds of initiatives that corporations must take to create future growth opportunities and thereby reduce layoffs and save jobs.
Nu-kote started out as a small division of Burroughs corporation, marketing carbon paper, and we were part of Burroughs right here in Rochester for more than half a century. Later we got into the business of making ribbons for impact printing machines–everything from typewriters to calculators to ATMs. Nu-kote became a private company in 1987 through a management buyout and by 1992, with annual sales of $95.6 million, we were in a position to launch a successful IPO.
1996 marks a milestone in a five-year program to reposition Nu-kote to meet the challenges of the ever-changing high technology imaging market. Today, we have made the transition from a small company making ribbons for typewriters and dot matrix printers into the largest independent manufacturer and distributor of imaging supplies in the world with annualized sales of $424 million. While this transformation was primarily driven through a series of strategic acquisitions, which reshaped the company’s product mix and expanded its marketing reach, the company has also achieved steady growth through innovative product development and aggressive marketing through virtually all distribution channels. Nu-kote has one of the most comprehensive R&D programs among independent suppliers with a budget exceeding $12 million for fiscal 1997. The acquisition of Pelikan’s hardcopy supplies business in early 1995 contributed state-of-the art R&D capabilities, while the acquisition last August of a printhead manufacturing facility in Jarfalla, Sweden gave Nu-kote proprietary piezoelectric technology which we believe will be a leading edge technology for the next generation of ink jet printers.
Here in Rochester and at our other existing operations, we are committed to continuously upgrading our facilities consistent with our corporate philosophy which can be summarized as follows:
–To invest in technology and human resources
–To be a responsible corporate actor by keeping our workers trained with focused, high tech skills; and
–To have a beneficial ripple effect on the communities in which we do business by creating jobs and supporting the local economy.
During your visit today, I hope you will see these goals in practice.
I’d like to introduce you now to Tom Mulford, the plant manager here in Rochester. Tom will be taking you on tour of the plant, introducing you to some of our employees and to some of the Rochester area suppliers that our operations here help to support, and telling you about the specific actions we’ve taken here at the Ridgeway Avenue plant to invest in equipment and people. Investments which will enable Nu-kote to remain a leader in the imaging supplies market into the 21st century and will help us to build a global brand name that lives up to the accomplishments of the last five years and the years to come.
The message I would like to leave with you is that the success of the Rochester plant represents part of the growing trend we’re seeing today toward the adoption of entrepreneurial values in companies. And while competition, particularly from foreign companies, remains tough, we can’t downsize forever. Ultimately, you have to take your destiny into your own hands, listen to the market and constantly deliver superior quality and value to your customers. That’s what Rochester is all about. That’s what Nu-kote is all about. And, in my opinion, that’s the proper role and responsibility of today’s business leader.