Repairing the Kodak Brand: New CEO Gives Snapshot of His Goals

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Last September Kodak emerged from bankruptcy protection vastly different from the company founded by George Eastman in 1880. Last month Jeff Clarke took the helm as Kodak's new CEO.

Last September Kodak emerged from bankruptcy protection vastly different from the company founded by George Eastman in 1880. Last month Jeff Clarke took the helm as Kodak's new CEO.

Clarke, who likens Kodak to a startup with 8,000 employees versus 80,000, says he has enormous respect for the people of Kodak and is excited to move forward to new successes. His first order of business: listening. "My first priority is to spend my time listening to Kodak's employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders as part of a detailed evaluation of our operations, market opportunities and approach for success," he said.

Last week Clarke spoke to the trade press about his goals and what it will take to repair the Kodak brand. Here's what Clark said.

The future:

Kodak is a very different company than it was two or three years ago. We are investing significantly in new products in digital printing.

Sorting through creative disruption:

Marketers are able to force innovation and change. Creative destruction will change the market. There are winners and losers in the market economy and you have to adjust. I referenced Kodak a couple years ago as a company that needed to adapt to those changes.

Repairing the Kodak brand:

When I think of the Kodak brand I immediately think of innovation and creating some of the most important products in the 20th century. The most important thing to me was, is that innovation still here? And I found that it is. My second day in the office, I went over to our research labs and went over the pictures of the inventors here. Two inventors each have patents. These are deep patents that are incredibly important. The second thing is quality. A company like Kodak has deep manufacturing processes and we make sure products work before they go out. The third is employees. The Kodak brand is around sustainability. This allows us to transform our history. I'm incredibly excited as Kodak adds to that quality, innovation, and community/employee spirit.

When I told my daughter who was 12 that I was working for Kodak she asked 'what's a Kodak?' We need to rebuild the brand. It's a brand that has great value on a global basis, opens doors that start-ups can dream of.

How do you intend to do that?

What we have to do is deliver great products. Customers are only as good as your last shipment.

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EXPERT OPINION