Here is another article in our series about things going on around Rochester.
It’s been a long time since Kodak was considered one of Upstate New York’s leading businesses, and area residents are all too familiar with the irony of the Rochester landmark: the business that once pioneered the entire photography industry somehow managed to fall behind in the digital age, and to such an extent that thousands of jobs and departments were lost by the early 2000s, and the company had to file for bankruptcy in 2012.
Ever since the area managed to stabilize its unemployment rates by creating new jobs in other sectors, Rochesterians aren’t quite so terrified when they glimpse “Kodak” in newspaper headlines anymore. Nevertheless, there tends to be more skepticism whenever Kodak makes the news by changing a major facet of the business, hoping to regain some of its respectability and success.
Kodak just recently announced that it would be re-organizing the business starting in January, 2015; the two divisions making up the company currently will be split into five separate divisions, each to be headed by a different company executive.
What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not this move will be effective, and whether or not it will benefit the city. As Democrat and Chronicle reporter Matthew Daneman states, “For every season of Kodak, there is a different way of organizing the company.”
This is isn’t the first time that Kodak has changed its internal structure in a major way, but if past changes are any indication, the re-organization in 2015 might not make much of a difference. As contributor Charles Moore recently stated in a Technology Tell article, Kodak — the business that controlled about 90% of photographic film sales in the U.S. during the 1970s — hasn’t seen positive profits since 2007.
Marketing campaigns that could work on other struggling high-profile businesses are unlikely to be successful for Kodak at this point. Coca-Cola, for example, is a well-known business in American culture, and it too struggled with painful sales for much of the early 2000s. This past summer, the company was able to create interactive billboards, capitalizing on the fact that 81% of drivers and passengers who notice roadside billboards, and it also released a series of “personalized” Coke bottles that encouraged consumer engagement on digital media platforms.
Kodak, on the other hand, is reacting to decades-long lagging sales by re-structuring the company yet again, and selling its former industrial Eastman Business Park to the city for other businesses to use. Even if neither change helps the company much, it’s possible that Rochester has accepted the downfall of Kodak enough to be more concerned with whether the changes benefit the city, and less concerned with how much they affect just one business.