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Videojet Technologies, Inc.

Videojet Technologies, Inc.


1500 Mittel Boulevard
Wood Dale, Illinois 60191-1072
U.S.A.
Telephone: (630) 860-7300
Toll Free: (800) 843-3610
Fax: (630) 616-3657
Web site: http://www.videojet.com

Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Danaher Corporation
Incorporated:
1980
Employees: 2,300
Sales: $300 million (2006 est.)
NAIC: 333313 Office Machinery Manufacturing; 334119 Other Computer Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

Videojet Technologies, Inc., is a leading manufacturer of variable data printing, laser marking, and coding products. Based in Wood Dale, Illinois, the company is international in scope, with operations in Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

On the strength of 175 distributors and manufacturers in approximately 135 countries, Videojet had about 275,000 units installed throughout the world during the first decade of the 21st century. Its offerings, marketed under the Videojet, Marsh, Willett, Labeljet, and Cheshire brand names, are used for product identification applications in a wide range of industries including consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, automotive, brand protection, commercial printing and mailing systems, wire and cable, and extruded products.

EARLY YEARS: 195979

Videojet's roots stretch back to the mid-20th century, when research activities at A.B. Dick Co. led to the establishment of a small division called Videograph Operations. A.B. Dick was a printing industry giant formed in 1884 by Albert Blake Dick, who in partnership with the legendary inventor Thomas Alva Edison, marketed the Edison-Dick Mimeograph, the world's first duplicating machine.

Under the leadership of Albert Blake Dick III, grandson of the company's founder, a scientist named Jim Stone was hired to further development of the company's duplicating technologies. According to Videojet's web site, "Mr. Dick directed that the company's mission was to 'put marks on paper.'"

Driven by this mission, Stone learned of research underway at Stanford University that would allow permanent images to be formed on paper via an electrostatic charge from a cathode-ray tube (CRT), commonly referred to as a picture tube. According to Packexpo.com, a web site serving the packaging industry, this research was ultimately fruitful, leading to the development of the world's fastest printer. Subsequent products included high-speed graphic printers developed for government use, as well as a full-page fax machine.

While Albert Blake Dick III's instructions were clearly related to print on paper, research and technology followed a different path. The advent of electronic character generation soon led to the development of technology that allowed the creation of text that scrolled vertically or horizontally on television screens, ending the need for cameras to film messages or names displayed on printed signs.

The practical impact this new technology had in several areas was summarized on the Packexpo.com web site as follows: "In one of A. B. Dick's earliest applications for this, ballot totals were broadcast for the 1968 elections, forever eliminating the need for handwritten results. The most dramatic example of this exciting breakthrough occurred the following year when Neil Armstrong stepped on to the moon. The viewers anxiously watching this historic event read the text of Armstrong's now famous statement: 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.' An EMMYthe highest achievement award presented by the National Academy of Arts and Sciences (US)was presented to [A.B. Dick's Information Products Division] Videojet in the category of 'Outstanding Achievement in Technological Development' for this scientific breakthrough."

Returning to its core mission, A.B. Dick soon began exploring printing applications for the new technology. Once again, researchers at Stanford played a central role in the development of a new product. This time, Stanford scientist Richard Sweet told the company's engineers about "a primitive oscillograph that had no moving parts and produced an image of electrical signals using drops of ink." Engineers at Videograph Operations, a division of A.B. Dick, wondered: "'If we can generate characters electronically, can we generate characters using electronically charged droplets of ink by a printer using no moving parts?' The affirmative answer to that simple question realized the most significant advance in printing technology in the past 50 years."

Ink-jet technology was not yet practical for office use due to the extensive maintenance that printers required, so Videograph Operations, which soon became A.B. Dick's Information Products Division (IPD), focused on industrial marking applications. In mid-1969 a significant milestone was reached when the company rolled out the first commercial ink-jet printer. In the June 12, 1969, issue of the New York Times, William D. Smith described the Model 9600 Videojet as a "highspeed computer print-out device that uses a stream of controlled ink droplets to print 250 characters a second," and explained that it was "designed to match the capacity of voice-grade public telephone lines that are commonly used for data transmission in computer time-sharing and other data network systems."

During the 1970s the company's growth was furthered by new applications that led to the development of the Model 9000, the world's first industrial inkjet identification system. The canning industry, in particular, became a major customer. American Can Co. inquired about using Videojet technology to print date codes onto beverage cans, which moved at a rate of 2,000 cans per minute during production. Despite the investment of millions of dollars, the industry's early attempts to accomplish this had been unsuccessful. Videojet engineer Tom Madden, who later became the company's vice-president of applied research and development, was involved in the development of an extremely successful prototype that was piloted at a Milwaukee brewery. The prototype quickly evolved into a global beverage industry standard, and by the 1990s Videojet printers were coding billions of beverage cans annually.

In 1977 the company's technology had been adapted to imprint labels onto fruit. According to the May 23, 1977, issue of the Chicago Tribune, the new application was unveiled at the Citrus Congress in Orlando, Florida, and offered the ability to imprint 4,400 tangerines, 3,800 lemons, 3,000 oranges, or 1,100 grapefruit per minute. Examples of the data that could be imprinted included shipment date, state of origin, and the packing company's name. Two years later, on April 9, 1979, A.B. Dick was acquired by General Electric Co. Ltd. (GEC), a U.K. company unrelated to the General Electric of the United States.

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES


Known today as Videojet Technologies, Inc., the company is considered to be a world-leading manufacturer of coding, printing and laser marking products, fluids, and accessories for the product identification industry.

VIDEOJET SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL: 198098

In 1980 A.B. Dick turned its IPD into a subsidiary named Videojet Systems International, Inc., which continued to operate in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Growth continued throughout the decade. In 1982 the Chicago Tribune reported that customers in the pharmaceutical, automotive, and beverage industries used the company's products for batch and date coding. At this time, Videojet generated a mere 5 percent of A.B. Dick's overall sales. However, expansion into new markets prompted the company to expand the size of its engineering staff through the middle of the decade. Specifically, Videojet began seeking skilled chemical and electronic technicians, software engineers, electronic engineers, and microprocessor design engineers.

During the mid-1980s Videojet also made efforts to develop its marketing research capabilities, and sought skilled marketing research staff to identify new growth opportunities for the firm, and to manage its telemarketing operations. In 1988 the company acquired Mundelein, Illinois-based Cheshire, Inc., a manufacturer of mailing equipment, from Xerox Corporation. The $21 million deal, announced in February, was concluded in May.

In 1990 Videojet revealed plans to move its corporate headquarters from Elk Grove Village, Illinois, to Wood Dale, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago, where it had signed a long-term lease for a 250,000-squarefoot facility from real estate developer Trammell Crow Co. Construction of the $43 million building, located on more than 15 acres in the Chancellory Business Park, began in late 1990. The facility was built to accommodate 650 staff from Videojet's headquarters, as well as the Cheshire division in Mundelein.

In the September 11, 1990, issue of the Chicago Tribune, Videojet President Henry Bode commented on the move, explaining: "We've been experiencing 20 percent compound growth for the last 10 years. Consequently, we need a larger facility to consolidate our headquarter operations and allow for continued expansion." The following year, when the company moved into its new facility, A.B. Dick parent GEC spun off Videojet as a separate company, which it continued to wholly own.

In 1992 a joint venture with Tomen allowed Videojet to offer sales and service in Japan. The following year Chicago native Craig E. Bauer, who had joined Videojet's sales and marketing arm in 1978, was named executive vice-president and chief operating officer. It also was in 1993 that the company consolidated its Cheshire and Videojet operations under the Videojet name. In addition, Videojet acquired imaging system producer Elmjet Ltd. Another acquisition followed in 1996 when Videojet acquired Cueprint Ltd., an impulse technology enterprise based in the United Kingdom.

In 1997 Craig Bauer was promoted to president and CEO, a position he held until his retirement in 2002. According to Bauer's obituary in the July 1, 2006, Chicago Tribune, his family told reporters that during a period of three years, Bauer helped to increase Videojet's sales by 52 percent and its profits by 30 percent. Commenting on the achievement, his daughter Natalie elaborated: "He helped build that company and a huge distributorship system in the Far East, Europe and Africa. By the time he left, it was a $350 million company."

A number of key developments occurred in 1998. In addition to establishing Videojet Iberica S.L., a subsidiary based in Madrid, Spain, the company acquired Marsh Company, a leading large character marking and coding enterprise, as well as Electronic Automation Ltd., a two-dimensional Auto-ID code developer in the United Kingdom.

OWNERSHIP CHANGES: 19992002

By the late 1990s, Videojet held a leadership position in a number of areas. In addition to digital, noncontact, ink-jet printing, the company's capabilities had expanded to include equipment used for high-speed addressing and mailing operations, systems for in-line graphic control and postal coding, as well as laser coding equipment.

Videojet ended the 1990s with two important developments. First, Videojet Canada Ltd. was formed in Mississauga, Ontario. Second, the company changed its name to Marconi Data Systems, Inc. (MDS). The name change, which occurred on December 8, 1999, reflected the company's growth beyond printing technologies into areas such as data capture, management, and transmission. In addition, it was in line with a rebranding effort that saw parent company GEC change its name to Marconi plc.

KEY DATES


1969:
A.B. Dick's Information Products Division (IPD) introduces the world's first commercial ink-jet printer.
1980:
A.B. Dick turns its IPD into a subsidiary named Videojet Systems International, Inc.
1991:
Videojet moves its corporate headquarters from Elk Grove Village, Illinois, to a 250,000-square-foot facility in Wood Dale, Illinois.
1999:
The company is renamed Marconi Data Systems, Inc. (MDS).
2002:
Washington, D.C.-based Danaher Corporation acquires MDS for $400 million and renames the company Videojet Technologies, Inc.

According to Packexpo.com, at this time MDS had approximately 1,500 employees at 22 sites worldwide, including direct sales organizations or subsidiaries in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Japan. Its network of 250 original equipment manufacturers and distributors gave the company access to customers in about 100 different countries.

MDS began the new millennium with a host of new product offerings, ranging from small character inkjet printers and digital imaging systems to laser coding systems. By this time the company's product offerings had also expanded to include systems related to asset management and process control.

In February 2002, Washington, D.C.-based Danaher Corporation acquired MDS in a $400 million deal. In a bulletin from the Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association's New York Chapter, Danaher President and CEO H. Lawrence Culp, Jr., said the acquisition of MDS supported Danaher's movement into the product identification business.

At this time, the company name changed once again. Craig Bauer, who remained president and CEO, commented: "Our new corporate name, Videojet Technologies, Inc., reinforces our mission. It is a name that incorporates our heritage brand and market-leading position, is readily recognized by our customers and speaks strongly to our recent advancements in cuttingedge product identification systems, data management products, services and integrated solutions."

GROWTH AND ACQUISITION

Growth continued the following year when Danaher acquired a product identification equipment and consumables company named Willett International Ltd., which became part of Videojet. As a result of the deal, Videojet increased the strength of its sales force and positioned itself for improvements in the product development arena.

Acquisitions continued in 2004. In addition to the German laser coding and marking systems manufacturer Alltec GmbH, Videojet acquired the United Kingdom's Zipher Ltd., a maker of thermal transfer overprinters and large character ink-jet printers.

During the middle of the decade, Videojet introduced a host of new products. These included the Videojet 3410 laser coder in 2005, which allowed quality coding on difficult-to-mark materials in harsh environments, and the Videojet 4210 ink-jet addressing system in 2006, which allowed customers to print addresses, serial numbers, bar codes, and personal messages on virtually any surface. The company continued to roll out new products in 2007, such as the Videojet 3430 Laser Coder, the Videojet 6210 Thermal Transfer Overprinter, and the Videojet 3120 10-Watt Laser Marker.

In addition to offering a full complement of marking/coding solutions, Videojet also had become one of the industry's leading suppliers with regard to protecting brands from illicit activities such as counterfeiting and diversion, or the unlawful distribution of product. As of 2007, Videojet offered the equipment, supplies, and partner software necessary to create solutions that companies could use to track and trace an item from the plant to the distribution center to the store.

By this time Videojet had grown into an organization with 2,300 employees. Each year, Videojet's equipment was used by companies in a wide range of industries to mark more than one trillion products. In addition, its equipment processed some one billion pieces of mail on a daily basis. From humble beginnings as a tiny division within A.B. Dick, Videojet had made its mark on the world many times as the company headed toward the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Paul R. Greenland

PRINCIPAL COMPETITORS

Domino Printing Sciences plc; GSI Group; Imaje Ink Jet Printing Corporation; Markem Corporation.

FURTHER READING

Edgerton, Michael, "A. B. Dick President Ready to Go Marketing," Chicago Tribune, June 23, 1982.

Leroux, Charles, "A Peeling Reading," Chicago Tribune, May 23, 1977.

Little, Rebecca, "Craig E. Bauer: 19512006; Electronics Firm Exec Had a Mind for Business," Chicago Tribune, July 1, 2006.

Smith, William D., "G.E. to Introduce a Data Network. RCA and Other Companies Also Announce Projects," New York Times, June 12, 1969.

"Videojet to Buy Cheshire," Chicago Tribune, February 17, 1988.

Ziemba, Stanley, "Videojet to Lease New Wood Dale Building from Trammell," Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1990.

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