Drying Off in the Digital Age

Drying Off in the Digital Age


As amazing a product as the traditional minilab has been for imaging retailers (and continues to be in many cases) over the years, the various “dry” processing solutions that have hit the market since the turn of the century bring with them a variety of advantages.

Those advantages include a smaller physical footprint, easier operation, no plumbing or processing chemicals required and in many instances, faster processing times. As wonderful as the halcyon days of this industry were, digital has taken root and smart retailers have followed its path to success.

It is with this thought in mind that AAA Imaging Solutions has announced a nifty new service that revolves around this “out with the old and in with the new” philosophy. Before we get into that though, a bit about AAA Imaging Solutions. The company has been a leading provider of digital imaging equipment since 1998 and they developed a successful reputation by offering name brand refurbished equipment such as Noritsu, Fuji and Agfa to retailers and businesses who could not otherwise afford it.

The aforementioned latest endeavor in that area involves becoming authorized resellers of the Kodak new APEX System. AAA Imaging Solutions is billing themselves as a one-stop shop for lab owners looking to convert from their old labs to the new APEX system. “We can remove the wet equipment to prepare the way for the new dry system. Our expertise translates into a very fast and smooth turnaround for our customers,” explained Stan Skrocki, National Sales Manager.

For those that may not yet be familiar with Kodak’s new APEX lab, the machine is an open, configurable system, that, as Kodak explains, “meets the evolving needs of retailers through flexibility and efficiency in providing digital products and services to consumers.”

Retailers can not only connect current Kodak order stations (up to 13 stations) to APEX to fulfill consumers’ standard print order, but can also tap the systems’ ability to accept and produce many of the new “premium” photo product orders. These products include the Kodak Picture Movie DVD, (and Kodak is quick to tell you that this is the only retail solution available that combines personal images and original artist music to create output in less than an hour), as well as posters and single-sided or duplex photo books, calendars, collages and greeting cards.

One recent convert, Ken Sutton of K-Ellis Photo Center in Dartmouth, MA., explained the many reasons he made the switch through AAA. “I made the switch late last year because I wanted archival prints, a faster system, better color and lower cost,” he explained. “When I contacted AAA about selling my old lab they told me about the trade-in deal on the APEX. I also didn’t want to deal with city/county regulations and the cost associated with chemistry.”
Sutton added that he also considered the entire cost of ownership with a dry system, not just the cost per print, when he made the decision last year.

As a final endorsement for dry, Sutton concluded, “I truly enjoy coming into work now and not dealing with chemistry.”

Both AAA and Kodak are quick to point out that, “Retailers can offer these products while also reducing costs. Through greater ease of operation and flexibility, retailers can reduce training costs and increase employee productivity, achieved by a new simple user interface design, by reducing the number of media SKUs and by making the core design modular for convenient floor layout of equipment.”

A few of the specific features of the APEX system include:

* Printing Technology – Thermal printing technology that, as Kodak explains, “offers a time tested, market proven, high consumer satisfaction technology that can withstand the high volume and consumer quality expectation of a retail photofinishing environment.”

* Efficient Performance with Smaller Footprint – retailers can print 450 – 2,250 pictures per hour (pph) with space requirements as small as 6 square feet.
* Adaptive Architecture – retailers can easily add printers, including wide-format ink jet and color laser printers, as well as peripherals to the system as the business grows.

Mitch Goldstone of Scan My Photos/30 Minute Photos Etc. in Irvine, CA., has never been shy about the specter of change so his decision was simple. “Wet lab technology is obsolete so it was time to make the switch,” he began. “I spoke with AAA because I wanted to trade in my wet lab while it still had good value.”

He added that dealing with AAA specifically didn’t hurt the decision-making process either. “These guys are industry leaders in what they do. Their integrity and experience has always been a draw and they always follow through with everything they say they will do. They said there would be no compromise with the switch to dry, particularly in the area of speed, and they were right.”

AAA Imaging Solutions is run by Robert Noterman, president, and Lou Burgess, vice president, who both left sales positions at Agfa Corp. to start AAA Imaging.

The company found a nice niche as a reseller in the used equipment market. By offering fully refurbished equipment at low prices, the pair explain that, “business grew quickly with steady sales in the United States as well as a growing clientele internationally.”

The beat goes on as the company is now bringing retailers into the dry processing world with their Kodak APEX trade-in deals, helping make this transition both affordable and turnkey.