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Little Agfa Acquisition Paying Off Bigtime: Division Finishes 100th CTP Machine

Press release from the issuing company

March 18, 2002 -- (Nashua Telegraph) -- Think big, very, very big. That’s what AGFA, the film and printing conglomerate, did when it bought a small, local company in July 1999. AGFA acquired the 11-person Misomex company in Hudson, which was developing technology for very large computer-to-plate printing machines, according to Jack Wolber, the division’s product manager and marketing guru. This division is part of AGFA U.S., which is owned by AGFA-Gevaert N.V., based in Belgium. The company makes and markets photographic and electronic imaging systems for photography, pre-press and medical imaging processes around the world. It also makes films, laser imaging systems and systems for digital radiography. AGFA put up the financial resources so the company could fully develop the technology, and then the rush was on to bring the machine to market as quickly as possible. As of last week, the division at 46 River Road had finished its 100th machine, and is in the process of developing accessories to go with it. “We went from developing the technology to putting it on the market and shipping the first one in 15 months, which is an unbelievably short time,” Wolber said. But a lot of that credit goes to the now 70-strong work force, who are highly skilled, technical people, said Frank Farese, the plant manager. “This is really a great place to have this plant. We could not have done this work just anywhere, but here we have access to an experienced pool of workers,” Farese said. The average worker has 16 to 17 years in the business, and many of the division’s workers have as much as 30 to 35 years experience, he said. The machines are built from scratch, with parts coming from around the world, and technicians stay with each machine they start, straight through testing and deeming it fit to ship, Farese said. “We’ve sent some of them to help with the installation at the customer’s plant,” he said. “We have multi-talented employees, who can think independently and analyze problems, then fix them.” The machines go for $500,000 each, without accessories, such as the automatic plate loaders that will be available soon, Wolber said. The image is in a digital file that goes from a customer’s computer to the machine, where the image is sent directly to a metal plate instead of film, then printed. More and more printers and publishers are converting to computer-to-plate printers to save money and labor, and with accessories such as the automatic plate loader, fewer workers are needed. Because they are so large and heavy, the machines are moved by cranes and held up by automatic car lifts, such as the ones used in auto repair garages. After they are finished, they are packed in wooden crates and shipped off. “A lot of pride goes into these machines,” Farese said. Agfa-Gevaert N.V. had sales of $4.9 billion, with a profit of $159.1 million in 2000, and a worldwide work force of more than 22,000. Used by with permission, Story By EILEEN KENNEDY, Telegraph Staff http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/