Carestream Health’s Windsor plant now employs about 400, thanks to growth from picking up a contract from Kodak Alaris. Joel Blocker for BizWest

Carestream ramps up with new contract, hires

WINDSOR — A plant closure “across the pond” is bringing jobs to Northern Colorado, as Carestream Health enters the new year with a new contract and a number of new hires.

Located in the Great Western Industrial Park in Windsor, the company is a former division of Eastman Kodak Co. Chris Schmachtenberger, Carestream Health Inc.’s director of worldwide media manufacturing and site manager of the Windsor facility, explained. “In 2007, Kodak made the decision to divest its health imaging business. That’s when we were acquired by a private equity firm, and this plant and a few others around the world became Carestream Health.”

Then in 2013, the photo and film-making giant sold off more divisions, one of which was its color negative business. “They formed a company called Kodak Alaris which is independent of Eastman Kodak,” Schmachtenberger continued, “so the two companies [in Windsor] that were formerly Eastman Kodak are now Carestream Health and Kodak Alaris.”

It was the closure of a Kodak Alaris factory in Harrow, England, last year that led to Carestream’s good fortune. The United Kingdom facility produced color negative paper used to print photographs, and that production was transferred to the Windsor plant, which already had the necessary equipment.

“We signed the contract with Kodak Alaris early second quarter of 2016,” Schmachtenberger said. “We had a transition period of getting ourselves ready for full-scale production, transferring the materials, hiring people, getting people trained, and we successfully launched the program … and have been in full production since November 1st of 2016.”

About 40 new jobs were created by the contract, bringing the total number of employees at the Windsor site to just over 400. Carestream also assumed responsibility for converting and packaging operations, which involved taking on another 22 workers from the nearby Kodak Alaris plant.

All the changes come as good news to members of the community.

“Kodak and Carestream are … a big part of our history and their story is the growth of Windsor,” said Stacy Johnson, Windsor’s director of economic development. “The town was built on that foundation of (Eastman) Kodak coming here and starting a manufacturing industry. That’s really what started Windsor on its growth pattern. It had really been agriculturally based before that.”

In fact, Johnson has Kodak to thank for bringing her to Colorado. “My father was transferred here to work for Kodak,” she shared. “I was 5 weeks old, and we came out from Rochester (New York) once the (Windsor) plant was fully operational in 1971.”

Johnson is well aware of the impact Carestream has on the area. “They’re known worldwide, and to have them in Windsor is a huge deal for us, so we definitely appreciate them being here,” she said. “They’re providing great jobs, and they’re helping us diversify. I thinks they’re a good presence, and they’ve been a good community member for years and years.”

Carestream’s health imaging business supplies materials for several industries, including the general radiology market and the dental field, along with mammography and oncology film. The company also produces what is referred to as non-destructive testing film, which is used in industrial applications such as inspecting machine parts and welds.

Schmachtenberger oversees a global operation, with plants in Oregon, New York, Mexico and China as well. “My focus is to help both our company and our products be a success in the market, and I want to make sure that we do everything we can to make Kodak Alaris successful so that they can continue to sell their color negative paper and hopefully grow their share,” he said.

While the contract may be new, it’s helping to restore old ties. “Many of the folks who are on this plant site were former colleagues of ours when we were part of the Eastman Kodak company,” Schmachtenberger said. “We’ve maintained good personal relationships with each other, and it’s nice to have a closer business relationship with them again.”