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Beyond the Big Three

It’s hard to say exactly when Eastman Kodak Co., Bausch & Lomb Inc. and Xerox Corp. ceased to be Rochester’s Big Three, but few would dispute this has occurred. This week that fact was underscored by news on each of these companies.
In documents filed Tuesday night, Kodak provided more details of its post-Chapter 11 plans, including the departure of Antonio Perez as CEO no more than one year after it emerges from bankruptcy protection. Mr. Perez, who joined Kodak in 2003 and replaced Daniel Carp as chairman and chief executive two years later, has presided over the most tumultuous period in the firm’s history-one that will leave Kodak a company that George Eastman would hardly recognize.
One day earlier, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. filed a memo with the Securities and Exchange Commission that its CEO, Michael Pearson, sent to employees of his firm and Bausch & Lomb, which Valeant has agreed to acquire. In the memo he reiterated previous statements about projected job cuts and cost savings after the deal closes-and he removed any doubt about where Bausch & Lomb’s headquarters would be once that day arrives. Not here.
And as reported in this week’s RBJ, Xerox and Laurence Glazer’s Buckingham Properties plan to close today on the sale of Xerox Square. The agreement calls for Xerox to remain the sole occupant of the building for at least eight years. This certainly is good news, but leasing is not the same as owning, and the move comes at a time when Xerox continues to shrink its local workforce; the latest figure is 6,423 workers, down from 6,734 at the end of last year.
The Pearson memo has drawn the most attention and anxiety. On Wednesday, a group of local and state officials released a letter sent to him, outlining their "grave concerns" about Valeant’s pending acquisition of Bausch & Lomb. Their concern is understandable, and the blunt language in the letter seems perfectly appropriate.
Yet public officials’ influence over a company like Valeant probably is not much greater than their ability to guarantee Kodak’s future health.

The best bet is to continue to pursue strategies that solidify-and expand-the broader economic base that has helped this area move beyond the Big Three.

8/2/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

One comment

  1. Our politicians are way too late on this latest blow to our community and can only address this with damage control.

    NYS is #1 in state and local tax burdens. Despite moderate corporate taxes, New York scores at the bottom this year by having the worst individual income tax, the sixth-worst unemployment insurance taxes, and the sixth-worst property taxes (source: TaxFoundation.org). This can provide a harsh business climate. If only the state of New York could provide a business climate that would encourage businesses to get in line to come here!

    Another common complaint is over-regulation.

    Our politicians are not totally to blame. The last B&L regime that yielded the reigns to a NYC private equity firm now have a great legacy that should haunt them forever.

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