Spring valley

Spring Valley

This was to be our very first house and the area we chose to move to was called Woodside Manor in Spring Valley, NY. All the streets were named after birds … Lark Lane, Swallow Ave, etc. … what the connection was between “Woodside” and birds I never did figure out. We were known as the “Bird Village”. Our house was a typical 2 story colonial home with all 4 bedrooms on the 2nd floor. A master bedroom with a private bath was a new luxury for us as was the fireplace in our family room. We had a corner lot, which gave us a lot of land which we fully enjoyed over the years. However this did lead to quite of bit of landscaping and ground maintenance which became my responsibility. I must admit while I certainly found these chores tedious they were equally fulfilling. It should also be noted that I never really succeeded cultivating a good lawn … I do not know how many times I seeded, reseeded, fertilized, energized, put down top soil, and over time removed approximately 3 tons of rocks … nothing worked. The best I could ever achieve over the years was low grade mediocrity. 

What I did have success with was planting a living fence … consisting of 30 or 40 shrubs which were incorporated with a series of existing Birch trees. Additionally we enjoyed a wood fence put up by our neighbors, the Thoms, who were thoughtful enough to position the finished side facing us. This afforded the Steins with fairly good back yard privacy.

The night before the move from Jackson Heights Florence cried herself to sleep. Only a few weeks earlier her dad had passed away quite suddenly while visiting the World’s Fair with his sister from Israel. His fragile heart finally gave out. Her concerns about the move returned. As it turned out we were just as close to her mom from Spring Valley as from Jackson Heights and the mother – daughter relationship, which had thrived over the years, never missed a beat.

We had scheduled our move in time to have Ellen and Marlene start school. It was early in September 1964 when we arrived at 1 Lark Lane, Spring Valley, NY … our home for next 23 years. Larry was 2 years old, Marlene 9, and Ellen 12. Truly a lifetime transpired during this period … perhaps I should say 5 lifetimes … when we moved away our little children had all grown into young adults. We enjoyed many happy occasions during this period … High School and College graduations, a Bar Mitzvah, a marriage, and we were blessed with our first grandchildren … Jennifer and Brian with more to come.

Unfortunately not all memories are sweet … during these years we lost our 2 remaining parents … my dad and Florence’s mom. My father, who suffered from severe emphysema, had remarried and moved to Saratoga Springs a few years earlier. Both he and Selma eventually became incapable of managing their daily lives and I was fortunate to find space for him at a local Nursing Home near our house. He resided there for a few years and we were able to visit him frequently. Selma went under the care of her daughter someplace in New Jersey. My father passed away in the hospital only 1 mile from our house on April 14, 1979. The Nursing Home had him transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital because his breathing had deteriorated. I had visited with him the night before. He looked fine and offered me his cup of chocolate ice cream which he said he saved for me from his dinner. The next morning he was gone. As with my mother the images of a parent’s final moments really stick.

Two years after my father’s demise, almost to the day, on April 26, 1981 Florence’s mom died while in our house. She was recovering from an accident in which she broke her hip and a replacement was required. At the time she was staying with us recuperating from this mishap and had a massive heart attack. Her last words were uttered virtually in my arms … “God, if this is my time please take me.” This was a powerhouse of a woman. Completely devoted to family and god … regardless of financial obstacles she was always there for any of her children to help in any way possible. She observed her orthodox traditions to the very end … and even during the more trying financial years her list of charities were never neglected.

Back in Texas where Florence’s brother Jack lived another tragedy was brewing. Evelyn was dying from lung cancer and passed away on New Years Day, 1981. Larry, Marlene and I spent New Years Eve in one of my favorite restaurants, Omar’s, in Paramus, New Jersey. Florence was with her brother in Texas.

By 1987, when our Spring Valley home was finally sold and we moved to Durham, North Carolina, all of our children were out of the house and starting their own lives. Ellen was married to Alan Peltz and had adopted 2 children … Jennifer and Brian. Marlene completed her studies at Harvard Law and her career was off and running in Washington DC … and Larry had graduated from Boston University, travelled around “sowing his oaks” and had just met up with Veronique. This entire period is filled with so many memories … mostly happy events with only a smattering of sad moments … but there are so many reminiscences I hope this chapter does not become too long.

It is interesting to note that just prior to our move to Spring Valley Florence purchased a brightly colored sweater … she explained this was to be used for raking leaves … after all one has to be dressed properly when cleaning the yard. Since we had moved in early September it wasn’t long before I called on her to lend a hand with this particular chore. I gave her a rake and very sternly pointed to the leaves on the ground. I was politely told this was a right handed rake and was reminded she is left handed. So much for Florence as a ground keeping assistant.

The Spring Valley area where we lived was quite rural. Accordingly, early on we decided that a house in the country needs a dog. So off we went and Scout, a Beagle, soon joined our household. He was welcomed into the family with love, affection and proper attention … but this marriage did not work. Early mornings as well as periodically during daytime hours he would howl like a forsaken wolf. That alone might have been somewhat bearable if we could have trained him to stop chewing and biting on family member’s toes. It made no difference to Scout if shoes, slippers or socks were being worn … bite away he did as we sat by the kitchen table.

Eventually we gave him away to Cousin Leon’s sister … who we met again many years later and we were cheerfully reminded about the quality of this gift.

Some time back, during our years in Jackson Heights, Florence’s cousins got together and formed a “club” … a “Cousins Club” to be exact. Several times a year the group would meet in someone’s house for a social evening. Over the years the group always kept in touch whether by meetings or phone calls. Dues was collected which periodically paid for a weekend trip somewhere. These were enjoyable events for the most part … and we got to know the cousins. Usually as we drove to these get-togethers Florence would brief me as to who is married to whom … I always had difficulty with this since it appeared that half the female cousins were named Millie … so I had to remember that “tiny Millie was married to X”, while “the quiet Millie was with Y”, etc. Amazingly our marriage survived these obstacles.

The meetings always ended with a poker game in which I never participated … since I did not know the first thing about the game. However, it did provide Florence and I the opportunity to touch base with the Sperber girls (Sperber being their maiden name). Over the years the cousin relationship was surpassed by a close friendship which continues to this day. In the photo seated (from the left) are Corrine and Leon Kraus, Myrna and Mel Hoffman, and Eleanor and Shelly Miller.

Both Marlene and Larry were born with an identical problem. Each had weak eye muscles which resulted in a “wandering eye”. After a few years of Doctors and patches we decided surgery was called for. Both were operated at the same time in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Marlene was 11 years old and Larry 4 at the time. I still remember the pain Florence and I shared when we left them both overnight in the hospital. We stood on the sidewalk many stories below their room just staring at their window … well, more than just starring … perhaps shedding a tear or two.

All went well and as a reward we gave in to the request to have another try at a dog. Marlene’s allergies were still an issue to be considered so we had to find a breed which did not shed … and a Schnauzer dog it was. The girls named him Whiskers and he joined our family in 1968. He acclimated to the household very well … and likewise, the children to him. Marlene almost immediately assumed most of the walking chores. He was an overly protective dog … as most Schnauzers are … the postman and trash collectors were his prized targets. Whiskers left our front door with scratch marks a half-inch deep accumulated over the years. 

One of the features of moving into a newly constructed area is that all your neighbors are seeking out new friends. We were no different and succeeded to make many long lasting friendships. Ted and Norma Glatzer had moved in before us. Their home was at the beginning of the Lakeside area and was completed early on. It turned out that Ted was Marvin and Lois Rosenberg’s brother-in-law. We rang their bell one day while visiting our site to see what progress was being made with the construction of our new home. Our friendship began then and continues to this day.

Likewise with Stanley and Betty Pearl, Jack and Bobby Miles, and Stan and Shirley Acker … in spite of the many years that have past we still maintain contact and see each other occasionally. Additionally each had a son Larry’s age … Glenn, Eric and Dave, who are still in touch with Larry. With several other local couples our social life was very active. Saturday evening dining out, house parties … we even took dance and bridge lessons together.

The girls were not as fortunate to find as many friends of their age within our “village”. Ellen only had one, Lynda Gilmore, but Marlene had to travel a bit to spend time with her friends.

Florence, being a social butterfly of sorts, had friends all over. High on her list was Blanche Wayne. Both worked for an entrepreneur in White Plains, NY. The firm sold, installed and maintained underground sprinkler systems as well as home fireplaces. We became good friends with Bert and Blanche and during several of our social outings it was a pleasure to hear the gals expound on the details of chimney cleaning. Our friendship continues today, even after the passing of Bert a few years back. 

Winter months were a new challenge for us … especially me getting to work on snow and ice covered local roads. As annoying as this was, the good news was the special activities now available for the kids. Ice skating was within walking distance on a nearby pond while skiing was only a short car ride away. These were recreations the parents never had available to themselves as youngsters. The Glatzers, Miles, Pearls and Steins spent many a day chauffeuring the kids to these events. Sleigh riding in our neighborhood was another great pastime with yours truly doing the steering … especially so with a minimum of traffic on our local streets. The girls participated to a limited extent but Larry and I made this a memorable father and son experience.

My personal favorite winter pastime took place on Sundays. It included football and the fireplace … an unbeatable combination for me. Our logs were always available on the patio just outside the family room. Keeping a good fire going for hours was always a tough chore. It took a while to learn the answer. The trick is to purchase compressed artificial 4 hour logs … placing one of these under the grate keeps the fire going for many hours … the real wood logs having been placed on the top side of the grate were replenished as required. On these occasions we usually had dinner in this room … mostly pizza or hero sandwiches brought in … dining on a bridge table … and Whiskers fast asleep curled up near the fireplace. What could be better … my wife … my kids … our dog … all together in a warm room watching my Jets trying to win a game and cold snow on the outside. Unfortunately, dreaded Monday mornings always arrived on schedule.

Although the smallest of the bedrooms upstairs was designated as my office, I gravitated to the family room when I brought work home … which I confess was quite often. Later on as my business responsibilities enlarged, many multi million dollar projects were deciphered on the $10 bridge table.

Warm weather would once again come around and lawn chores were called for. However the good news was that outdoor living was also feasible. I believe we were only in the house about 3 or 4 years when we had a patio constructed in the back … it was accessible from either the family room or kitchen. My guess is that it was approximately 20 x 30 feet … large enough to hold a table with 4 chairs as well as some lounge furniture and a grill. This was my Shangri-La … outdoor peace & quiet. It was ideal for the weekend morning newspaper and coffee as well as casual entertaining.

It was during these times we took family vacations. Hershey Pa., Amish country, Mystic Conn., Saratoga Springs, and White Face Mountain come to mind and are some of the places we visited. It was in this last vacation spot where I suffered one of the most embarrassing moments in my life. I had put in a great amount of effort to choose a motel … one which would provide some pastime for Ellen and Marlene should we run into a rainy day. Alas I found one with an indoor pool. It was a more costly stay but worth it I thought. We arrived in the afternoon in a pouring rain. We checked in and I advised the group not too be concerned … I have saved the day … we have an indoor pool at our disposal. Larry was not with us … probably being watched by Grandma. On went the bathing suits and off we went. The pool was ok but it was quite drafty. Florence moved us around trying to find a less windy corner to play in. Impossible … wherever we stayed the verdict from Judge Flo was NG … too chilly and for sure the girls would get sick. Out of the pool we went … and there went the best laid plans.

The next morning after breakfast I left the group in the room and went next door to another motel and found available vacancy for considerable less money. Why pay for a luxury we can’t use … so I registered and received a room key … and returned to the group advising all we were checking out and moving to a new motel. I went to the front desk, advised the clerk I had to cancel our reservation and check out … and added, “I am sorry, but I was just called back to my office for some emergency”. I paid for the 1 night stay and returned the room key. Dumb me … upon handing the clerk the key I was informed that this was for the motel next door. I made some lame excuse saying that I was there on business last week and neglected to return it … which was met with a big smile.

Then there was Camp Hill located at the north end of Rockland County. Larry was a camper there and in later years Ellen and Marlene worked there as counselors. It is where Ellen met her future husband Alan. We also purchased “family rights” and spent our weekend days at the camp pool. There was a convenient handball court located on the premises which was an added feature for me … which allowed me to partake in my favorite sport, which at that time was paddle ball. This activity coupled with playing a foursome of bridge provided us with a fully enjoyable day. In later years these activities replaced the traditional vacation.

I remember Tether Ball in the backyard, a tree house built for Larry and his friends, Ellen and her gang playing on our Bad Mitten “court” situated right along side of the Thom’s fence. We even took a crack at horse shoes along the same fence. I can still visualize the growth of Marlene’s Arbor Day tree, my fireplace logs positioned far in the back at the edge of the “woods”, bowling with Larry on Sunday mornings and making that fantastic 4-7-10 split giving us the championship … these memories are embedded in my mind as if it were yesterday. There was a Bar Mitzvah and wedding celebration, college graduations … so many events to recall, some tiny, others large … but each infinitely memorable. 

We had 3 high school graduations which we attended with great pride … and a handful of college graduations as well. Ellen started college but soon gave that up for Alan who was finishing up his studies in Cornell. Her wedding in 1972 was a big event for us … where my dad tried desperately to get into every picture … and Larry’s Bar Mitzvah was another very big occasion for us … where he conducted Sabbath services perfectly … an event which was duplicated many years later by his son Ansel. In 1998 Brian had his turn and performed extremely well. His celebration was attended by family and friends. We have one more to go.

Soon after Ellen’s wedding Alan began his graduate studies at Clemson University, in South Carolina. This was completed within a few years and they headed down to Florida to start their life. The remaining Spring Valley group did visit with them during the Clemson years.

Marlene went off to SUNY Binghamton where she earned Phi Beta Kappa recognition … then on to the University of Illinois for her Masters in English. I recall both of us flying out there for her initial set up in her dorm room etc. She had earned a teaching fellowship …from which she gained some firsthand classroom experience … and then deciding that the legal profession was her thing instead… and off to Harvard Law she went … but not before receiving her Master’s Degree in 1979. At the same time Larry was in Boston University doing his thing … receiving top honors and earning 2 degrees … Philosophy and Biomedical Engineering … but not wanting to pursue graduate study. I confess I had real concerns about his future … such potential to be set aside for a “desire to see things and places … to have space”. I was proven wrong some years later … I guess there are certain itches that must be scratched.

There was some handwriting on the wall which I missed. Larry and his friend Jeff Rosen spent their summers in Cape Cod selling ice cream. Actually they hired a crew of youngsters from the Boston area to drive the trucks … and these vehicles were leased from the ice cream vendor … the key locations for selling the product was awarded by a municipal bid … and their warehouse was rented. They had no assets other than a gung ho approach to sell and make money … which they did for several seasons. Upon graduation I was told they were going to sell their business … I laughed … Sell what? … You don’t own anything. Well I was wrong … they received a very handsome price in exchange for walking the new owner through the ropes for most of his first season.

I also recall sometime after Larry’s college graduation he intended to do some travelling. I mapped out a detailed trip for him … which cities to visit and where to stay … after all I was the seasoned traveler. It was many years later he informed me that he had his own visions of where to go and what to see. Apparently after the first day my instructions were filed away and he traversed over his own course … quite haphazard perhaps but allowing him to find new areas very different from his Spring Valley home. He readily absorbs the spirit and culture of these new surroundings in his own way … a unique trait which he has since put to use many times. 

Sometime during the early 1980’s we began taking pre-Christmas vacations with Lois and Marvin Rosenberg. Puerto Rico was our destination … Cerromar Beach to be exact. Once we moved to Florida and retirement these adventures no longer made sense for us. These were great times … just a carefree escape from all the details of everyday life and full of happiness, friendship and laughter … like the time Marvin and I went deep sea fishing and he got sea sick. After arriving back at the hotel I put Marvin, who was still white like sheet, in a wheel chair and proceeded to wheel him into the lobby. The wives, while somewhat surprised did not seem to be overly concerned. There were countless instances where we all just let our hair down and kicked up our heels. Florence one evening had one too many pre-dinner Margaritas and was singing “Let Me Entertain You” as we walked into the main dining room.

We swam in the mornings, played bridge in the afternoon, and dined in the evenings. Of course the casino was not to be overlooked, Marvin and I on the crap tables, Lois playing blackjack, and Florence trying to beat the slot machines. There was that time I taught her how to “play” craps … me standing behind her and giving advice … just about any number she bets on, wins … within an hour she had quadrupled her money … and having mastered all the fine points of the game she turns to me saying, “This seems so simple … why do you lose so often.” 

During this period I took my first trip to Canada for the greatest fresh water fishing imaginable. This annual event lasted close to 20 years in spite of the travel that was required. It was necessary to first fly to Minneapolis, Minn. … change planes and continue on to International Falls on the Canadian border … and then either fly by sea plane directly to the camp or drive about 2 hours to a docking area where the camp owner would pick us up with their boat. The camp was located in a remote part of Lake of the Woods. Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, and Lake Trout are available for the avid fisherman. My visits there began as a business perk and continued long after. I convinced my cousins Leon and Mel to join me one year and on another occasion I went there with Ted Glatzer. Larry as well accompanied me there one time.

Larry and I also did some serious fishing in Wyoming on the Green River at the Flaming Gorge Dam location. We did this twice during his college days, flying into Salt Lake City and then travel by car to Wyoming … staying at a friend’s cabin … trying very hard to catch fish and succeeded somewhat. Fortunately we did manage to catch a nice rainbow trout one time and brought it to a restaurant where it was prepared for our evening meal. We had loads of fun … even though Larry managed to drop my camera overboard during both of these trips, the father – son relationship thrived.

Mostly we fished from a 20 foot pontoon boat but on each occasion we took a side trip. It took place on an inflatable rubber raft … both of us paddling away down the Green River … Larry up front doing the steering and yours truly in the rear sitting on the outer edge. On our very first venture we came across some rapids and got bounced around quite a bit. I lost my grip and got dumped off. I found myself struggling in very cold water attempting to get to the surface as my head hit the bottom of our raft. At that moment I thought this was the end. I finally surfaced about 30 feet in front of the raft and Larry saw me … he was unaware I was not in the raft and was quite surprised to see me struggling about. As it turned out the only damage was to our snacks and the loss of an oar … which we later retrieved. To prove to the world that we were indeed very macho, we returned the following year and repeated the journey without any major incidents.

Our Spring Valley house was ideal for family gatherings. Various events, especially Thanksgiving Day, took place annually in our home. Dave and Lee visited with us on summer Sundays. Hamburgers and Franks on our grill was a convenient menu. Dave was forever asking Larry to run around the corner to see if it was raining … no, he never did … to his credit. For several years we did a July Fourth thing in our back. I would return from a trip to the Washington DC area where fire displays are legal to purchase and our neighbors would join us as I attempted to wow the audience.

January 1978 marked my 50th birthday and Florence threw me a surprise party at our house. Unfortunately a very bad snow storm hampered many from attending other than local friends. Ellen was in transit but ran into major delays at one of the airports. I didn’t realize it then but there were 3 more celebrations to be held at 10 year intervals.

Yes, these were joyous times … and to make it even better we were blessed with our first grandchild. Jennifer, born January 20, 1981 joined the Peltz clan. Not too many years later she welcomed her brother Brian, born April 25, 1985. This was indeed a new page in our life and we were drenched with pride. We visited with them frequently … reminding ourselves that not too many years earlier our parents were doing the same … the only difference being we took an airplane and they rode the subways.

During this period we also purchased a condo apartment in Palm Harbor, Florida. A group of about 10 Berkey executives each bought a unit in the Tarpon Woods Golf and Country Club. Our aim was to rent on a short time schedule and use the facilities ourselves for vacations. In order to eliminate competing with each other we pooled our unit rentals and received equal monthly disbursements. It turned out to be a bad equity investment … when I finally sold it I had to write a check to the bank to cover the outstanding mortgage. However Florence and I enjoyed it immensely. We managed to break away a few times a year and I finally learned how to take time off away from business. By pure coincidence Ellen and Alan were living in nearby Dunedin and this gave us an added reason to vacation there. Alan’s job with GE was short lived and they soon moved to Broward County where they settled for many years.

Our unit was only a 20 minute car ride from the Clearwater Beach which made for delightful days on the beach. Larry came by to visit on 2 occasions and we spent a weekend with Jack and Terry, his new wife to be.

Ten year wedding anniversaries were always a big thing for us and, as you might expect, more so as we age. I do not recall exactly how we celebrated our 10th and 20th, but I am sure it was a modest event. September of 1980 was our 30th and we took a trip to Israel and Egypt. We visited with Florence’s aunt Bella and Uncle Ben Sharoni … she being the sole survivor from her father’s family. It was a most enjoyable trip visiting with family members, seeing the sights of Israel and then following up with an interesting visit to Egypt. We promised to return to Israel some day but that never took place … primarily because of the continuing troubles in the Holy Land.

​On our 40th and 50th were also celebrated in fine fashion and hopefully I will not forget to describe these series of events at the appropriate place. 

It was 1985 and we were planning to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. The Rosenberg’s were celebrating their 30th. Together we did a trip to San Francisco and then on to Lake Tahoe by car. This was only one of several memorable trips with Marvin and Lois.

Ellen and Alan threw us a dinner/family get-together in their house for our 35th as well. Attending were just a small group of close-by family and a few cousins. Brian was only a few months old and Jen was 4 at the time so this was a joyous and full day for us.

Last, but certainly not least, there was Sport-A-Rama. Located in Spring Valley it had the regular assortment of body building rooms, pool, indoor track, steam room, sauna, etc. Sometime around the late 70’s I had completely graduated from outdoor paddleball to indoor racquetball and this facility had 5 such courts. Every Saturday and Sunday morning I was playing with a group.

Yes I am blessed with memories … but what is more important than the memories you enjoy are those you leave behind for your loved ones. This is the true essence of a good lifestyle. I hope I have fulfilled this to some degree.

It was unfortunate but during these years as my work responsibilities enlarged so did my travel. I tried very hard to maximize the time I did have at home. It was a tough balancing act but to a large degree I believe I succeeded … or at least from my perspective I think I did…perhaps my children do not agree. It is appropriate at this point to mention Florence. Yes I did a lot of traveling … and sometimes at very inconvenient times for her … like my first trip to Europe … to her credit I never heard one complaint … like a good soldier she just kept on doing her thing. As soon as we were able I began to have her accompany me whenever feasible and together we have managed to see much of the world.

By the time we had moved to Spring Valley in 1964 I had been informed of the forthcoming merger of the Gevaert and Agfa companies. The Agfa corporate headquarters was located in Leverkusen, Germany, just outside of Cologne. Eastman Kodak had just begun to sell photographic products in the European market which previously had been exclusively the private turf of Agfa and Gevaert. Additionally the Japanese were not too far behind. Fuji and Konica from Japan were making similar overtures. In this environment it made little sense for the 2 major European manufactures to continue to compete.

The merger was eventually consummated and the new company was named Agfa Gevaert Inc. Our move to the new Teterboro facility included the combined USA contingents from both organizations. Space was no longer a problem. This new location was ideal. We had 5 Technical Managers each with responsibility for a special product area … as before Consumer Color Photographic Products was mine … and my staff, which had grown to about 10 by this time, were comfortably housed close by my office … including my own secretary. I had divided my area of responsibilities into 3 sections and had Ray Eynard, Ed Deal, and Hagen Hoffman as Technical Specialists each supervising an area. Hagen hunted me down several years ago and we renewed our friendship. We have met several times since, as recently as October of 2007. My counterpart from the Agfa organization was relegated to Consumer Black and White products.

I had developed a close personal relationship with my Gevaert counterparts in Belgium and normally we would meet frequently during the year. They had many reservations about this forthcoming merger … over the years Agfa was their prime competitor and old feuds are not easily forgotten. This group also had other more serious concerns. There were rumors that while commercial and professional products would fall under the Gevaert wing, the consumer products would be coming from Agfa. Their jobs and careers were in jeopardy. Unfortunately these conjectures proved accurate. With the exception of Albert Bellay, who by this time had become a close friend, each of the group found new career opportunities within the Gevaert part of the new organization. Albert was forced into early retirement. I learned from this event as well as others that any business merger will certainly always have some casualties.

It didn’t take very long for me to realize I had quite a different problem. Organizationally I was OK. My new manufacturing contacts, now in Leverkusen were respectful and cordial. Within the USA office nothing really changed … it was as if our Gevaert Company had acquired Agfa … from the president on down … with only minor exceptions … the executive staff were all Gevaert personnel. My corporate responsibilities were increased. Agfa had purchased a photo processing facility in Flushing, Queens and this was in sad shape and desperately in need of guidance. Since I was the only person on board with any hands-on experience in this area this was added to my repertoire.

Previously both companies were attempting to sell in the USA … Kodak’s backyard. Amateur color products were still in their infancy and as can be expected there were some major shortcomings with all products being marketed… the offshore items as well as those made in Rochester N.Y. Gevaert had incorporated some major enhancements which along with price was the main thrust of their sales effort. The Kodak competitive response would list these alleged improvements as additional technical problem areas. Since almost anything Kodak said was held as gospel this made for a hard sell by our sales people. Early on I had convinced the company to withdraw temporarily from highlighting product improvements as a primary sales tool … merely promote them being just as good as Kodak’s with some minor improvements and these would sell at better pricing. After establishing a firm foothold in the market we would then be in a better position to advertise major product changes … for now recognize Kodak as the “standard”. The Gevaert Company listened and marketing inroads were being realized. I now had the same problem with the Agfa products … I made several pleas along the same line as before. Unfortunately the Agfa management group only heard me … nobody listened. This was discouraging to say the least. Additionally, the tragedies of World War II were still fresh in my mind. A long career with the new Agfa-Gevaert … my products coming from Germany … was not in the cards for me.

It was September of 1966 and I was attending the International Photo show (Photokina) in Cologne, Germany. I had maintained good relationships with the Berkey Photo personnel over the years in spite of the fact there were no real sales potential to be realized. Berkey had purchased my former company, Technicolor New York as well as others throughout the USA. They were a very ambitious organization.

The group attending Photokina had previously accepted my invitation for a lunch on the Fairgrounds. Ben Berkey, Sam Simon (Executive VP) and several plant managers were slated to meet with me on the third or fourth day of the show. I had known all along that this organization was very sensitive to internal costs … anything that would lower labor costs was of prime interest to them. There were several new innovative products introduced at Photokina which would lead to significant labor savings within a wholesale photofinishing plant … and fortunately for me, these advantages were not presented very well by the vendors. As the lunch began I indicated I was not going to “sell” any of my company products … this was to be merely a friendly get together. Very shortly the conversation progressed as to what was new at the show and at that point I gave an impressive dissertation on the new labor saving devices. Within the next 60 days I received a call from Ben Berkey’s office to come meet with him. He was interested in establishing a Laboratory Equipment Division and was offering me the job of getting this off the ground. By early 1967 I had joined Berkey Photo as a Division Manager.

Berkey had established itself as a national company with photo finishing plants throughout the USA and was listed on the NY Stock Exchange. Within the past few years a very active acquisition program had positioned them as a very large photo company … and on path to become the largest independent photo processor behind Kodak. In addition to the photofinishing plant empire, there was Berkey Marketing, a subsidiary company located in Woodside, Queens NYC. This organization imported and distributed cameras, primarily from Japan, sold professional lighting and commercial graphic arts equipment, as well as having on site manufacturing capabilities where professional and commercial printers were made. Over in New Jersey there was Keystone Camera, another Berkey company, manufacturing and distributing low priced cameras.

On the surface it appeared that the long term aim was to have this company become a miniature Eastman Kodak. Not too bad of a place to be, I thought. The current strategy was to form a Laboratory Equipment Division. There were many innovative items which were constructed by their plant people and potationally could be cleaned up and sold … after all, who would not want to purchase equipment which the successful Berkey Photo created and used themselves. Manufacturing would be performed in the Woodside facility. Additionally I was to come up with new ideas for our product line. Berkey had already made contact with a manufacturer of a processing line of equipment which we had exclusive USA distribution rights.

After a few introductory months on the job I found myself working out of the Berkey Marketing offices in Queens. The commute from Spring Valley was monstrous. I found some relief by being able to share the driving with an engineer who lived nearby. But I was a Division Manager … sounds good, I know … but this was a one man division … and I wore several hats … liaison to manufacturing, advertiser, show exhibitor, salesman, installer, maintenance provider, packaging, shipping and last but not least, the procurer of new products. I never got around to ask for help … being too busy getting this program off the ground. One day Ben Berkey on his own did tell me to hire someone … of course he already had this person chosen.

The major problem which caused this project to fail was simply that the equipment which I sold did not work. I exhibited my line at the annual PMA shows and of course I had gigantic problems getting the display items to function. Sam Simon and his contingent of plant people who were attending these exhibitions were very sympathetic.

I called on almost every photofinisher in the USA … met with all of the prominent processors in Europe … attended and displayed our wares in many shows … successful in all areas except product performance. My staff had grown to about 3 or 4 people and we stayed with the program about 3 years … but eventually threw in the towel. The Woodside group doing our manufacturing was quite good at producing items which were relatively static … lighting equipment which was turned on and off several times a day … or a printing machine which was activated perhaps 20 times an hour. Some of my equipment required hundreds of activations per hour. This expertise was lacking.

Sam Simon, who was head of the Processing Division, was having his hands full. By this time there were 8 large Berkey plants located across the USA. More were slated to be purchased. He invited me to work for him as Director of Technical Operations. His only other staff person was Steve Seif, National Sales Manager. However Steve concentrated primarily with sales in the New York area and was rarely seen in the other facilities. There was little of anything that resembled a national organization … and the annual photofinishing sales were about $60 million and growing.

I relocated my office to the 13th Street corporate office and began to travel to all the plants. My objectives were down-to-earth and straight forward. Simply stated, to assist the local plants in resolving any local production problem that Simon or Berkey viewed as serious … take the best operational systems from any plant and transmit it to the others … develop a National Quality Control program.

It was this latter responsibility that required me to test each plant’s outgoing quality … and this could only be done by submitting identical orders for processing to each facility. This, my children, is why I was always posing you guys and snapping picture after picture after picture. In later years I obtained more sophisticated equipment, but in Spring Valley the Stein family sufficed.

Actually quite a bit more in the way of responsibilities soon evolved … developing a national operational protocol required similar equipment to be employed throughout the system … so why not centralize all equipment purchasing. Additionally, better pricing and improved service would also be realized once our purchases were nationalized. While I was busy doing that I realized that similar gains could be achieved if we would follow suit with the purchase of color photographic paper.

Color photo paper which is used to produce color prints, was our largest single expense item … at that time over 25% of sales. Virtually every photofinisher in the USA purchased this item from Kodak. I sampled paper from the Mitsubishi Company, tested it at the home plant on 13th street and was pleased with the results. Taking the trials to a higher level I placed a $25,000 order to be shipped from Japan. This was a first for any photofinisher in the USA. Several weeks later I received a phone call from a U.S. Customs agent in Manhattan. He wanted to know where the paperwork was covering this shipment. “What papers”, I asked … and was told that somebody has to provide the proper documentation for importing a product as well as a truck to pick the items up from the dock. The Woodside office having experience in this area threw me a life preserver and gave me the name of their import agency.

It took a few years and I was responsible for all equipment and sensitized paper purchases. The old 80/110/20 rule was still working. The various Berkey General Managers in the field who had developed close ties with Kodak personnel over the years did not welcome this substitution of a Japanese product for Kodak’s … but the monetary savings was a boom for the corporation and could not be ignored. This transformation to a new supplier of paper was performed at a slow and cautious pace. Eventually we converted 100% and I was overseeing an annual purchase of close to 15 million dollars a year of photographic paper from the Konica Corporation. Mitsubishi, with whom we began this program, was not able to meet our needs.

I should interject at this point 2 notable personal items. I believe it was the Photokina of 1970 when Albert Bellay introduced Florence and I to Esso Noordhoff … it might have been 2 years sooner … I’m not certain. We were staying in Bonn, Germany and Esso drove us back to our hotel after a dinner hosted by Albert. Several months later Esso made contact with me during a visit to the USA and we dined at Asti’s, one of my favorite Manhattan restaurants. We developed a very close relationship very quickly and visited with each other many times over the years. 

He had his home and primary businesses in Amsterdam. Later, as he began to set the stage for his retirement, he bought a new home in Malaga, Spain … which we also visited. His wife Inge, who was intimately involved with several of his ventures, was always a pleasure to be with. Esso Sr. is a perfect example of a born entrepreneur … starting with his father’s passport and photo studio in Amsterdam he added additional outlets in The Hague and Rotterdam. Throughout the years he continually ventured into new businesses … money exchange, gift and souvenir shop, wholesale manufacturing of T-shirts and sweaters, as well as some clever real estate investments. He accumulated a nice nest egg … well earned and is spending most of his time these days in Spain.

His son, Esso Jr. eventually took over the reins of the photo businesses … Senior having sold off all of his other holdings. I see and speak with the younger Esso quite frequently. Since leaving the umbrella of his dad he has developed into an astute businessman successfully making the transfer from film to digital. He has turned his stores onto a profitable basis during very stressing times.

In 1969, I was just about making my transfer from the Berkey Laboratory Equipment Division to the Processing Division when I received a call from John Harman … the General Manager of Drewry Photo in Burbank, California. PMA had just established a new section called Society of Photofinishing Engineers, SPFE, and he was to be the chairman. He enlisted my help to get this off the ground and I volunteered. My service to PMA and the SPFE began then and continues to this day. I should note that of all the various activities I have been involved with during my life, my 40 years with this organization ranks very high, having provided me with much personal gratification. 

Berkey Photo was not an easy company for an outsider to come on board. Having the company’s President and Chairman of the Board (Ben Berkey) and the corporate Executive Vice President (Sam Simon) in your corner made for a pretty good passport. I was given some stock options one year which led me to dig a bit into our financial status. The stock price was increasing nicely … little if any dividends were paid … but the majority, if not all of the corporate profits, came from our Processing Division. All other divisions were struggling … becoming another Eastman Kodak was not going to be an easy journey. The company had accumulated a substantial debt to subsidize the corporate growth and the banks were a bit apprehensive.

Internally, our photofinishing organization was very simple … ridiculously too simple … this is a $60 million division … not too shabby for the 1960’s …and returning a handsome operating profit … yet functioning without any written objectives or operating plan … budgets were unheard of … most plant reporting was done verbally… and mind you, the parent corporation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. When I had an expense report, I merely wrote a few lines on a pad, gave it to the Corporate Financial VP … he signed off and I walked into another office and got my money … no tally was kept as to how much I had spent for the year. There was no internal structure that one might expect from a company of that size.

In essence, we were effectively a big “small company”. This was soon to change as a mammoth effort was to be made giving us a face lift. We were about to become a small “big company”. But before I get to that I must make mention of 2 events which occurred about this time.

It was 1972 and I was just getting into my new position with Sam Simon and Kodak introduced a new film, Kodacolor 2, packaged in an enclosed light-tight cassette. It was called 110 Film and was only 16 mm wide … compared with the conventional 35mm films in use. There was no advance information about this product and we were all taken by surprise when the announcement was made at the PMA Convention. We had no choice but to purchase specialized equipment from Kodak which was quite expensive, slow in coming and didn’t always work. This new film did indeed have some improved characteristics which Kodak marketed very well while increasing the price considerably. Quite a coup … less film material, combined with reduced packaging costs and yet a price increase.

The entire industry was having difficulties getting this product to work and Berkey decided to sue Kodak. I literally spent 1 entire year … 1976 … working with attorneys preparing the technical and operational basis for our claims. At the trial only 3 witnesses were called for Berkey Photo … Ben Berkey, an expert economist and myself. We won the case but lost in one of the Appeal Courts.

Almost immediately after the trial I was contacted by Henry Pergament who wanted me to join his company. He had only one lab located in Grand Central Station and this had grown into a huge business. It was extremely convenient for commuters to drop film rolls off in the morning and retrieve these on the way home. It turned out he wanted me not so much to help him as much as to hurt the Berkey organization. We met and he made me an unbelievable offer which when put together was worth about a half million dollars or more over a few years. I could not refuse and resigned from Berkey. Steve Bostic, who had just come on board as president of our division, was quite surprised … as were other old timers in Berkey Photo.  You will hear more about Bostic shortly. Henry was a marketing whizz, but as I soon found out, a complete fruitcake … unorthodox in every manner. Our marriage lasted about 90 days and I was out looking for a new job. He merely came in one morning and told me to go home … my services were no longer needed.

I had no proof, but I was always suspicious that my activities in the Kodak Anti Trust suit were the basis for this action. During my tenure with Pergament I was called once again as a witness  … this time the hearing concerned the monetary award to be issued to Berkey Photo. Henry did not want me to testify but the Berkey attorneys issued a subpoena and I had no choice. I will confess, however, that I was informed ahead of time that a subpoena was to be issued and I did give them the green light.

During this brief period of unemployment I stopped by the Berkey plant one day to say hi to some of my old acquaintances and ran into Ben … we chatted a bit and he told me he would be glad to take me back if I wish … it was entirely up to me … if not he wished me well … in the meantime if I needed a place to hang my hat and make phone calls etc, feel free to use any office in the building. Quite a unique offer I thought. I was contacted at home by Bostic a few weeks later and we negotiated a new arrangement and I rejoined my old company. My office and furniture was still in tact … in fact there was some mail in inbox … nothing much had changed during my 4 month absence. By the way, I employed the arbitration clause in my contract with Pergament, sued and won a handsome award. I was represented by the same Berkey attorneys who had conducted the anti trust suit.

By the mid 70’s Ben Berkey had begun to withdraw from some of his duties. He was being pestered by bad earnings, bank pressures and some heart problems. One day we were informed that he had a cardiac by-pass … a brand new procedure which nobody had ever heard of before. By this time his son Harvey had become corporate President and assumed these chores, while Ben remained Chairman of the Board. Although Harvey was no longer president of the processing division, his presence was always there. It wasn’t long after that Sam Simon decided to retire. For a short while I reported directly to the younger Berkey and it was very apparent he knew little about the nuts and bolts of our operation. He brought in some new young executives whose assignment it was to put the corporation into a business-like mode. 

Sam Simon was a great boss … tough as nails with a big heart. I took a big load off his shoulders and we had a great relationship. He taught me much … primarily the art of blending discipline with compassion. As an early example, early on in our relationship I had just returned from the PMA show where many of us brought our spouses. When I gave him my expense report I included a check covering Florence’s air fare as well some incidental charges. He tore up the check, explaining that he appreciated all my travel time which took me away from home and my family and this was his way of saying thanks.

Although at the time I did not appreciate the restructuring effort of the new regime, I will admit it was sorely needed. One of the first items on the agenda was a new division head. Steve Bostic had been brought on board as our Processing Division president. Additionally we established positions for Sales, Finance, Advertising, Human Resources, and of course Operations … we also had to establish supporting staff positions. Budgets and business plans were now expected. Playing the role of a large corporation also required that we follow suit in other areas. We were now required to take certain executive training courses. We would set aside a week or so at some exotic meeting place and be tutored in problem solving, basic business accounting, and who knows what else … would you believe I spent one day being taught which fork is for salad and which is for fish and that one should place the napkin on their lap within 30 seconds of taking their seat at the table. Many an afternoon during these lectures I was reminded of my PS 70 orchestra days … unbelievable boredom.

Of the entire staff I was the only one with hands on in-plant experience. I just kept doing my thing. There was that one occasion when I received a panic call from our sales manager in the New England area complaining that they were about to lose their single largest account, Caldor. The primary reason was poor service times stemming from our Fitchburg, Mass. plant. Fortunately I was in town that morning. Steve Bostic was flying in from a business trip … due to arrive in the early afternoon and we were needed up there immediately. I made contact with Steve and brought him up to date. In a nutshell, I drove home and packed a bag; stopped by Steve’s house where his wife, Alice, had done the same for him; picked up his bag and met him in Newark Airport where we took a flight to Boston. By 4:00 PM we were in Fitchburg sifting out the details. The situation was only half as bad as made out, but serious enough to replace the plant manager. I was also able to resolve several internal issues before our departure. It was obvious to all how little Steve knew about our business. On the way back the following day Steve confessed how much he relied on me and that I could always count on him as a gracious boss.

There was another incident that comes to mind. It occurred during one of our weekly staff meetings. Steve was making one of his speeches about some irrelevant matter and I was busy doodling away listening with only half an ear. Suddenly I heard something to the effect that we were bringing on board some “plant experts”. “Oops”, I interjected … “What in the world is this all about? … Are you really suggesting we need more people to run our plants?” I was soon corrected … the experts Steve were referring to were horticultural in nature … to take care of the plants in our office. A bit of egg was showing on my face.

Again there was that time when both he and I, with our spouses, were the guests of Konica in Japan. We had about a week of travel, visiting various local Tokyo highlights as well as touring the plant manufacturing facilities. The last evening was to be a gala reception and our host came to me in private asking if I would like to say a few words representing Berkey Photo at the appropriate moment. I pointed out that while I had no problem with that, it might be best if he asked my boss … after all he was the ranking senior officer. He was shocked … everybody was under impression that I ran the photo processing division … and he was very grateful to have been corrected.

Playing a second fiddle role was acceptable to me since I totally enjoyed my work. The total operation of our processing division was in my hands. Seriously, if I was retired at that time and needed a hobby, the work I was being paid to perform would have been a welcome pastime. However I could never really warm up to my Steve … there was always that smattering of smugness that annoyed me. I believe he may have been a devout atheist for most of his life and all of a sudden one day he found religion, he discovered he was God. He did manage to move our division offices from the shabby surroundings of 13th street in Manhattan to Paramus, New Jersey. To accomplish this he had to have had considerable influence. This was even closer to my home than the Agfa-Gevaert offices in Teterboro. Not too surprisingly it was even closer to Steve’s home.

We had brand new offices, secretaries, an enlarged staff, a large conference room, and of course an abundance of organizational structure. Corporate profits however were still missing. Bostic held the senior Berkey responsible for this shortfall and I believe he was aiming to become the corporate CEO himself. He never refrained from voicing his negative opinion of Ben Berkey … even in public … how incompetent this man was and why he should be replaced. Unfortunately for Steve some of these derogatory remarks eventually got back to Ben. 

All these shenanigans came to a halt one afternoon. We were still in the acquisition mode and were in the midst of finalizing a deal to purchase a business in Hollywood, Fl. That afternoon the principal was expected in our Paramus office for a meeting. I received a call from Ben Berkey’s office about 10:00 AM advising me that he was coming up to meet with Bostic some time around lunch hour … therefore Steve was going to be tied up … for lunch as well as the remainder of the day … would I please take our visitor out for lunch and make some excuse for Steve … I was also asked to make arrangements to get our guest back to the airport. I was informed confidentially that Steve is being fired.

A short time after that the banks forced Harvey Berkey to step down and a new Chief Executive Officer was coming on board. Jerry Burgdorfer from Hertz took the corporate reins and shortly moved the corporate offices to White Plains, N.Y. Within a few months Ron Walsworth was hired from the Polaroid Corporation and was put in charge of the Processing Division. Within a year we moved our offices into the White Plains building … we occupied the 3rd floor and the corporate staff was on the 2nd floor … pretty cozy.

One immediate problem facing Walsworth was the price of silver. The Hunt brothers had successfully manipulated this to a historic high … silver being a priority ingredient of all photographic products, our material costs increased overnight. All of our plants were actively recovering this precious metal all along but at these high prices I had to insure that we were maximizing our yields. I put together an emergency program which included incentives for increasing plant efficiencies. Needless to say Ron didn’t have the faintest idea was going on, but did appreciate the importance of the issue and was impressed with the results … I am talking about adding several hundreds of thousands of dollars to our bottom operating profit line. However, this bonanza did not last very long … soon the price of silver dropped dramatically.

During this period I was calculating the silver recovery efficiencies of each plant and awarding monthly bonuses as earned. I knew how much film and paper had been processed each month in each location, thereby knowing the available silver to be recovered. I also received reports from our refiners detailing how much was actually recovered from each … and thus was able to perform an efficiency calculation. Amazingly one plant was consistently exceeding 100%. Impossible of course … and sometime later I uncovered the answer. The plant manager was calling on some local hospitals who were merely sending the spent solutions from their X-Ray departments right down the drain … these of course were loaded with silver. He purchased these at a very reasonable price, transported it to his plant and added it to the solutions from which they were to extract silver. Not exactly cheating I thought … more like good improvising.

While I did correct the previous reporting I did not ask for the return of the bonus money … after all the company did benefit from this “shady” practice. On my own I later inquired as to the possibility of doing this nationally and found that in general most medical facilities were already recovering silver themselves.

I was Vice President of operations by this time negotiating the sale of our reclaimed silver, purchasing photographic paper, responsible for division capital expenditure budgets and purchases, and determined which plant gets what in the way of new equipment. The R & D department, where many innovative items were devised and distributed, also came under my wing. Additionally, I was concerned, as were others, with finding new business acquisitions and then deciding how to maximize these transactions. One of the many decisions which had to be decided was the fate of the new plant … transfer the sales to an existing Berkey facility and close the operation we had just purchased … or retain the operation and convert it to our way of doing business. We had about 15 plants by this time … half were primary facilities with a few satellites plants to service remote areas.

There were no shortages of facilities to be purchased … our tongues were hanging out to buy more. The headache we faced with each business we wanted to purchase was money … simply put, where would it come from … our banks were leery to extend any existing lines of credit. 

Each time we did consummate an acquisition the facility was usually using Kodak paper. Once we took over they were switched to the Konica brand. This of course made our paper supplier quite happy. At our next annual contract negotiation for the purchase of photographic paper I took the position with the Japanese that we were in effect acting as their sales agents and bringing them new accounts. As such we are entitled to a “sales commission”. I insisted that with our new contract they would put aside a certain percentage of our purchases into a “slush fund”. This money would be used to assist in paying for our next acquisition, if this operation was not using Konica paper. They had never heard of such an offer … and frankly neither did I … but we were their largest customer and I was banking on the fact that they could not afford to lose the Berkey account. It was not an easy sell … we already had the lowest pricing in the industry along with excellent payment terms … but I finally won the day. Bill DiMinno, Konica’s Vice President of Sales was their negotiator. Neither one of us played golf so we did much of our negotiations after a few games of racquetball and lunch. 

Our photofinishing division ran quite well under the Ron Walsworth’s reign. He knew his strengths and weaknesses and was quite open about these. He let each manager do his own thing and every so often he would meet with us and just shake the tree a bit to see what falls. We had periodic national meetings, some with the corporate staff, others just our division alone. Several included spouses. Golf was always the major pastime and I knew as much about this as I did about poker. There were always about 3 or 4 participants who, like me, preferred fishing … and so we did … always getting back in time for the 19th hole.

So it is now 1984 and our processing division is enjoying sales of $100 million. The corporation however was still not holding up as well. Word was going around that our division was to be sold to the Colorcraft Corporation located in Durham, North Carolina. We were the only asset the company had, which if sold, could pay off the bank debts. At the September Photokina I met up with several of the Colorcraft people, including Brian Seiler who was my counterpart in their organization. It was readily acknowledged that a merger was pending and this was discussed quite openly. We joked a bit about a possible future organization and had some fun. The truth was that I did have serious concerns … I was never on the “acquired” side of an acquisition before. There would be no need for a duplicate set of corporate offices and staff so undoubtedly we would be shut down. At age 56 I did not consider myself prime hiring material.

Sometime in 1985 the acquisition became public information and I was not certain how our plant managers were going to fit in the new consolidated scheme. I wasn’t too sure about myself as well. At any rate it was the successful Berkey field operation that made us such a valuable commodity and I wanted to show my appreciation to this group before the acquisition would take place. Having annual Plant Production Managers meetings was an accepted and budgeted item each year. Normally it would be held in conjunction with the annual PMA show in the fall. I decided to bring the group as well as my secretary to Europe. This of course was not the same as going to a Las Vegas meeting. I knew Walsworth would never approve the additional expense.

I contacted 2 of our vendors, Ilford and Gretag, who had corporate offices in England and Switzerland … and got them to foot the bill. I invited Paul Boles to make a presentation at one of our meetings in London and he contributed some bon voyage gifts. Ron was told of the event after the plans were all formulated and he was not a happy camper. However there wasn’t much he could say since it was a freebie for our company.

We began our journey the evening before departure with a dinner/meeting at one of the JFK Airport Hotels. We had more than 15 attendees and Gene Haley, Financial VP from Colorcraft came to make a welcome speech from the new company. However the big surprise of the evening for me took place when Florence walked in. She was scheduled to spend some time during my absence in Florida with family. The group had organized her transportation to the airport and at the same time showered me with some gifts. The next morning she took her plane and our group flew business class to London staying at the Marriott Hotel for a week’s activity of fun and meetings. A fine farewell and an end of an era.

At any rate the corporate acquisition dealings were finally consummated and the Berkey Film Processing Division office in White Plains was to be closed. I immediately gravitated to overseeing the closure of our division offices … scheduling the shut down of our different sections. I was engaged in many conversations daily with the new management … and additionally went down to Durham on a few occasions. All this was a bit uncomfortable since my boss, Ron Walsworth, was left out of the planning cycle.

As my Berkey career was being closed it became apparent I had not been paying enough attention to my “Personal File”. I had no idea how much unused vacation time I had accrued, which I was now entitled to as back salary … nor did I ever inquire what my expected retirement pension might be. So, at age 58 I vowed that I would now focus on these issues. Fortunately the Berkey management agreed to my very favorable estimate of the accrued unused vacation I was entitled to. Additionally, just prior to my final days at Berkey, Jerry Burgdoerfer, the Berkey Inc. CEO, hands me a bonus check saying this was his way of thanking me for making our division so saleable. My exit from Berkey after some 20 years while sad was rewarding.

I was the only staff officer to be offered a position in the Durham office. My title was Technical Director and VP of Operations for the new expanded organization. Brian Seiler was to work for me. The Colorcraft structure was very different from Berkey’s. We were a free standing corporation owned by an Investor Group out of Atlanta, Georgia. There were 5 Regional Senior Vice Presidents in charge of a geographic area who held considerable authority … this was not a serious problem for me since they all either knew me or knew of me. Blending into this organization was no problem … with the exception of the Corporate Executive Vice President, Bob Hawes. We were like oil and water. I suspect there may have been some ethnic differences at stake. There was no way we were going to be a team. There I was … a newcomer just brought onboard from an acquisition … and I am standing toe-to-toe with the newly appointed Executive VP … I could have very easily been sent packing back up north. I once described to Carl Hammil, our corporate President, that Bob’s major achievement in life was being born and it has been downhill for him ever since. Carl recognized the problem and revised the company organizational structure so I would be reporting directly to him. I managed to assume most all the same responsibilities I previously held. At any rate my relationship with Bob Hawes during the next 5 years was cordial at best.

Well this just about brings us to the next chapter, our relocation to Durham, North Carolina.