Newsletter August 2020
Recruiters for the Copier Channel® for more than 30 years, Copier Careers® has been the only recruiting firm exclusively dedicated to connecting Copier Channel employers with experienced service technicians, copier sales representatives, sales managers, service & operations managers, controllers, support staff, and MPS/MNS experts. Start your month off right with Newsletter August 2020: Copier Channel news and career advice. Search copier jobs now.
IN THIS MONTH’S NEWSLETTER
As we stretch into our fifth month of COVID disruption, ask yourself how you feel about your company’s leadership. Do they have your confidence? Your loyalty? This pandemic has been make-or-break for many and the challenges reveal their true mettle. Whether you’re looking for a new job or debating jumping ship, look for these key crisis leadership traits.
- Strong communication. Prioritizing communication is more important than ever – whether your company is still working from home, furloughed or operating on a hybrid model, constant contact is key! In this ever-changing environment, leadership should be checking in with all in-person and remote employees on a weekly basis, at minimum. We’ve heard of leaders hosting group calls, sending out update emails and posting video status updates to keep everyone in the loop. A good leader will get creative to show that you are not forgotten. This is a particular area of growth for some leaders based on what we’ve heard recently.
- Transparency. Honesty in said communication is similarly vital – what good are all those words if no one can trust them? Strong leaders will be honest when they are uncertain and not promise too much. They know that it is better to share their goals and priorities and what they hope to gain by accomplishing them. Nothing is more motivating (and reassuring) in uncertain times than a clear sense of purpose and direction.
- Adaptability. Anyone trying to go about business-as-usual is fooling themselves. This global disruption is changing most aspects of how we do business – an adaptable leader is ready to shift away from infeasible services and towards new opportunities. The Copier Channel is particularly adept in this area and we’ve seen industry innovators jumping to provide solutions to new workplace problems. Leaders who want to survive and grow need to evolve their business models accordingly.
- Willing facilitator. As we saw in the last recession, burnout is a serious risk during stressful times. This goes double for a leader who tries to do everything themselves. A good leader delegates what they can to others and facilitates their success, sharing the load and the rewards.
- Future-focused. This mentality should permeate everything they do. A future-focused leader sets short and long-term goals with an eye towards growth. Whether that’s investing in employees to bring up future leaders, seeking out new people for fresh ideas or prioritizing innovation for new solutions, crisis leadership also means looking beyond the crisis for new opportunities.
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The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is loaning Eastman Kodak Company $756 million to support the launch of Kodak Pharmaceuticals. This loan is the first use of the DFC’s new authority to support the domestic response to COVID-19.
“Kodak is proud to be a part of strengthening America’s self-sufficiency in producing the key pharmaceutical ingredients we need to keep our citizens safe,” said Kodak Executive Chairman Jim Continenza. “By leveraging our vast infrastructure, deep expertise in chemicals manufacturing, and heritage of innovation and quality, Kodak will play a critical role in the return of a reliable American pharmaceutical supply chain.”
This historic loan is intended to “accelerate Kodak’s time to market by supporting startup costs needed to repurpose and expand the company’s existing facilities in Rochester, New York and St. Paul, Minnesota.”
When operating at full capacity, the new arm of Kodak is projected to produce “up to 25% of active pharmaceutical ingredients used in non-biologic, non-antibacterial, generic pharmaceuticals while supporting 360 direct jobs and an additional 1,200 indirectly.”
Stocks Soar 300% After Announcement
Kodak was indisputably the stock to watch the next day. While the OEM was valued under $2 a share, prices soared 318% to $25.26 a share by close Wednesday. During that time, Kodak’s value peaked at $60 a share (an increase of 570%) – volatility was so great, trading was halted 20 times throughout the day.
This surge in stock value has also attracted SEC attention, launching an investigation into Kodak a few days later. In particular, Fortune reports the SEC will be “scrutinizing Kodak’s handling of the announcement to determine whether it fell afoul of disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies.” The July 28th announcement reportedly began to leak the day before from local Rochester, NY news sources. These rumors started the rise in Kodak’s stock value before the official announcement the following day.
Forbes reports the SEC will also look into “allegations of insider trading, specifically involving $1.75 million in stock options granted to CEO Jim Continenza the day before the official loan announcement, though the company has said those were regularly scheduled purchases and SEC filings indicate that Continenza has not yet cashed in by selling off any shares.” CNBC reports, however, that Continenza also purchased roughly 46,700 additional shares on June 23rd while board member Philippe Katz purchased 5,000 shares on the same date.
This isn’t Kodak’s first time in pharmaceuticals. According to CNBC, the camera and film producer turned its hand to over-the-counter medications like Aspirin in the 1990s before selling the business to SmithKline Beecham in 1994 for $2.925 billion. The BBC reports that Kodak had resumed drug ingredient production four years ago.
Experience in manufacturing film and other imaging and copying components apparently translates well into pharmaceutical production. Kodak competitor Fujifilm began a similar shift to medical products in the mid-80s and has two major players in COVID-19 research under its umbrella. Fujifilm specifically cites their “expertise in photographic film” for its many medical innovations.
Continenza is confident that their “long, long history in chemical and advanced materials” will enable Kodak Pharmaceuticals to “get up and running quickly.”
Kodak has also disclosed an expenditure of $870,000.00 lobbying US Senate and House in regards to the HEROES and CARES Acts. Kodak was out of the lobbying game since 2019 but registered anew April 1st of this year, as the US COVID crisis was rapidly escalating.
The SEC investigation into the Kodak deal prompted the DFC to tweet on Friday, August 7th: “Recent allegations of wrongdoing raise serious concerns. We will not proceed any further unless these allegations are cleared.”
The following Monday, Kodak shares fell about 40% at the lowest before closing at a little under 28% drop. Trading was halted once during the morning due to volatility.
Canon is Latest Maze Victim
Canon confirmed the ransomware attack in an internal memo August 8th. The problem has been developing since the 5th with “widespread system issues affecting multiple applications, Teams, email and other systems.” Canon was also dealing with outages at image.canon since July 30th but the company says these issues are unrelated.
Bleeping Computer reports that Canon, like Xerox before it, was attacked by Maze ransomware. Maze operators claim they stole “10 terabytes of data, private databases, etc.” Canon reports that they are “currently investigating the situation.”
Read more news from around the industry on our News & Resources page.
Our readers respond to last month’s poll question
In June, we saw the national unemployment rate decline encouragingly. So we wanted to know the average employment status for our industry, specifically. We had another record-breaking turnout this month, taking in a whopping 19,533 votes!
Most of you (57%) are still employed in some capacity – 46% are still full-time and 11% are part-time. 20% of you are furloughed (please see our explanation below).
23% of you are fully unemployed this month. 13% of you are unemployed, #readytowork and on the job hunt. The remaining 10% of you are waiting – that may be because of health concerns, limited options in your market or just pandemic burnout. Whether you’re ready to get back out there or not, we do recommend dusting off your old resume and keeping an eye on job listings. Even baby steps can make it easier to move to a better situation.
Historically, furloughs are not commonly used in the Copier Channel – they are used more often in manufacturing, retail and airlines. So this is likely the first time many industry professionals (both employers and employees) have had to navigate this employment grey area. And you’re not alone, CNBC reports that Google searches for, “What does furlough mean?” increased more than 5,000% in April alone.
As Business Insider puts it, “an employee furlough is when employers require their staff to take unpaid leaves of absence. In other words, they won’t work, they won’t get paid, but they’ll still technically be employed.” The significant difference between a furlough and a layoff is that a furlough is intended to be temporary while a layoff is permanent. The duration of your furlough and whether you retain your health benefits, etc. is determined by your employer. Whether you qualify for unemployment benefits is determined by your state. Every situation is unique, as you will see in the comments below.
What is your current employment status?
- Employed, full-time (46%, 8,963 Votes)
- Employed, furloughed (20%, 3,938 Votes)
- Unemployed, job hunting (13%, 2,612 Votes)
- Employed, part-time (11%, 2,093 Votes)
- Unemployed, waiting (10%, 1,927 Votes)
Some comments from y’all:
- “People who are furloughed should be getting courtesy updates every two weeks, at least! Especially if they work for a big OEM. That would be the professional thing to do but I can tell you that my company isn’t checking in with us at all.”
- “Ready to go back to work. Even with being furloughed, our company has been good to us. Keeping us at full-time status and full benefits and such. On the days we are working, we have been extremely busy. I really don’t want to be looking for a job elsewhere but if I’m not back to full time in the next couple weeks, I will be moving on. I don’t want a part time job.”
- “‘Thank you, COVID-19,’ signed, a Federal Government Account Executive. Crushing it!”
- “Many production print & solution providers are offering voluntary retirement Programs (VRP) to their workforce due to economic instability of COVID-19.”
- “As furloughed techs, we lose even more than regular office workers. We usually have to buy or maintain a certain type of vehicle for work and now we’ve lost that car base-pay. But my car payments to the bank don’t stop.”
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Copier Careers August 2020 Poll Question
Rate your company's communication during COVID
- Good, there's a plan but some things could be more clear (30%, 5,391 Votes)
- Great, I know our policies and generally what to expect each week (22%, 3,959 Votes)
- Bad, I’m not really sure what’s going on but I know we’re still in business (16%, 2,928 Votes)
- OK, I have to ask for explanations but we’re muddling through (12%, 2,242 Votes)
- Crickets, every morning I'm honestly not sure if I still have a job (11%, 1,978 Votes)
- Terrible, there’s no plan and unexpected changes come up all the time (9%, 1,699 Votes)