Quote Originally Posted by Simon R Galley View Post
Dear alarickc

Firstly, apologies for the delay in replying I have been away on business. Thanks for your suggestions, encouragement and positive thoughts.

Whilst we are a small company, due to our positive history since forming HARMAN technology Limited eight years ago we are able to fund our R&D and product development programmes, the crucial question is what we fund and what we R&D ?

Our monochrome photo business is our first love, is the largest part of the business and is our number one priority, but we do lots of other things such as anti-microbial silver, specialist thin layer coating specialist scientific coatings, ink jet etc etc. R&D also work a great deal on finding alternative raw materials, chemicals and processes.

We have always engaged when people have asked us about new or replacement 'photographic' products......but we make more Mono products than all the other manufacturers put together, well in excess of 2,400 SKU's and as I have always said, our intention is to keep every product that is currently in production...in production : Period.

Our whole manufacturing systems have been changed, upgraded and refined to achieve this key company objective, and for us to continue to achieve this.

One of the real difficulties about making and developing 'new' products is the tendency of the 'audience' or customer base is that when you are passionate about a product, or a way of doing something is to presume that every one is else is and that a 'market' must therefore exist, it probably does, the question is, is that a viable market based on the manuafcturing and quality systems of a highly sophisticated and complex manufacturing process that has 'medical' levels of QC.

Lets take 220... everyone would love to see it back, us included, trouble is it will never come back because it will never make money.

Why ? 220 film by m2 was less than 5.00% of roll film sold ( by us ), so 5 rolls of 220 for every 95 rolls of 120. We could have bought a new machine to do 220 we even had it costed, over 300 K we would never have recouped that investment and we would have had to increase our inventory, and then every retailer would have to be sold 220, and what do you think a retailer would say, no I cannot hold it in stock if sales are 5.00% of 120 film sales. So even if we had done it 220 rolls would cost 3 x what a 120 roll would cost, thats why 220 is never coming back, from anyone.

We just bought a cassette making line, for 35mm, why, because we needed to secure a future supply of 35mm cassettes, we can make money, so we bought it. We may be passionate about Black and White, and we are, but we are in business first and foremost.

IR film is the same, we know how to make it, many APUGGERS would buy it, most film users would know what it was and the effect you could get by using it, and even with our low m2 coating capabilities we would have to throw away half of what we coated, as it would go out of date, and before you come back.... you cannot preserve IR emulsions by freezing, they degrade anyway ( slower...but they still degrade) we estimated a selling cost at about $ 16.00 per 35mm 36 exp roll instead of $ 8.00 for SFX, SFX would need to be withdrawn. You may well pay $ 16 per roll, 90% will not.

I'm sure we don't always get it correct, I'm sure we have missed opportunities, the management board of HARMAN discuss new products and potential new products at least every month. As you know we just re-launched single use camera's, that was actually quite a risk and involved a significant investment.

So, we will always listen, we will always look, we may even start a project, we will even take a 'calculated' risk. We may not do something when we should... but what we will always do is be totally dedicated to analog photography, analog photographers, the art, artisanship, and the preservation for the future of film photograhy and silver gelatin photo papers.

Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
A few questions...

Would you consider buying out already functioning equipment from other manufacturers?

For example, Kodak is the only current 220 maker, and their company is falling apart. If they collapse, would you consider buying their 220 machine if the cost were right? I think that the main issue with 220 is that our perception is that if it's double the amount of film, there should be a savings on our end, so a film that costs $5 should cost $9 in 220 as we are buying more. If that's possible as a price point, I think the number of 220 sold could increase and since you would be the only manufacturer, I think you could see a purchase of higher than 5%.

IR films should cost no more than double what regular films cost, I only really buy MF films so I'm not super familiar with 35mm prices but your 120 costs roughly $5 at B&H so I would pay $10 maybe $12 for IR but not $16

Third, why not use shell companies for the riskier divisions, like create Ilford220 the company, and then have that contract the normal Ilford for the film production that way if the 220 project fails, it doesn't harm the main company.

Fourth is the above suggestion about creating a dedicated page on your website for requested production runs doable? I really think if you added a few things like PanF+ in 4x5 sheet and 70mm, you would have a better idea of what needs were out there. You could even have a "secondary" option, like "If we don't meet our goal of X requests, what second film would you like to see as 70mm? so maybe having FP4+ in 70mm is more appealing overall than PanF+ but at least if it were fresh 70mm people would want it. That sort of thing...