Well I think I will chip in as well.
I have always been an Ilfordite. Infact I have never purchased a black and white product (other that Pyrocat-HD chemicals raw chems) that was not made by Ilford. I have used other manufactuers goods, but only stuff given or inherited from others.
So, what was my reasoning behind going to Mobberley? Other than pure nosiness(sp), I wanted to get some reassurance, a warm fuzzy feeling, that the 'new' company was going to be able to keep supplying the same products I have always used, at the same standards I was used too. Very selfish I know, but I was worried that 18 months ago I would lose my photographic base and would have to start sourcing materials elsewhere. I wanted my comfort blanket.
So did I acheive the warm fuzzy feeling? You bet! Not only do I feel that I can rely on getting these products now, I also think they will be around for a long time in the future as long as the market is strong enough to keep them there.
It came across loud and clear that these guys (& girls) CARE. They are passionate about what they do and how they do it. There is a strong sense of family, one that has had hard times, and pulled together to get through the rough spots. But pull through they have and they seem stronger and fitter for it. The sense of family is a rare phenomenen in business these days, and I must say I am envious.
The tour itself was very informative and the staff were keen to impart knowledge where ever the could. I was impressed with the scale of the operation, the attention to detail, the standards etc. Anyone who doubts their QC needs to take the tour.
Over the years I have been to many company presentations (and given them) and can't remember any where I was greeted by the top level directors themselves. Traditionally it is usually a task left to the PR people. Like I said, they care.
Ilford/Harman certainly have their work cut out for themselves over the next few years. The current rapid changing markets, with the demise of the large producers and the blight of digital imaging, certainly can't be helping them yet they seem able to see through these and have focused on the future and are striding towards it. They spoke of innovation and research that they are doing to keep silver imaging alive. And if this means producing papers for the diginerds so that they can keep providing us(me) with the traditional materials then I am all for it. They are also looking for new ways to increase their traditional silver sales and I think we should all help where we can.
Special thanks to Simon Galley and the Ilfordites who made us feel welcome and to Leon for 'not organising' it.