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Hart Finds Buyer for Photographic Paper Facility



Hart Corporation’s sales team uses several methods of staying in touch with manufacturing companies so they are ready to assist those companies when they have a need to purchase, sell or lease a manufacturing or warehouse facility. Hart’s corporate accounts division makes semi-annual or quarterly calls to key officers or real estate executives with companies that have three or more manufacturing plants in the United States. Hart’s regional offices stay in touch with smaller manufacturing plants that are more regional in nature and with the local economic development allies to ensure that the team is knowledgeable about the smaller town real estate market. In view of Konica’s multi-plant operations, Hart Corporation’s corporate accounts division stayed in contact with Konica Minolta Business Solutions’ Vice President of Corporate Planning and Treasurer on a regular basis to see if we could help with any real estate needs. Konica’s Whitsett, North Carolina operation manufactured photographic paper. The photographic paper business was declining due to the increased use of digital and cell phone cameras. Therefore, there was not enough demand to justify keeping their Whitsett facility open. Hart Corporation was chosen for the marketing assignment based on their expertise in selling heavy process oriented facilities. The plant itself, at 348,141 square feet sitting on 84 acres, was used to manufacture color negative photographic paper for inkjet printers. All of its equipment remained intact. Konica was interested in selling both the building and the equipment. Selling both together was preferable. Hart’s National and Regional division partnered together to tackle the job.


Once appointed, Hart Corporation was given only six months to broker a sale that included both the building and all of its equipment intact. Konica had engaged an equipment auction firm to value the production equipment at the same time as Hart Corporation was given the listing on the facility. After the initial six months time frame, if Hart Corp did not find a buyer who could use the plant with the equipment intact, Konica would auction the equipment and use Hart to sell the real estate. As with all projects, Hart aggressively marketed the building with a targeted approach, and worked closely with the owners, community and state economic development agencies. Within the six month time limit, Hart indentified Zink Imaging, Inc. (‘Zink’ short for ‘Zero Ink’), an American company with employees who were former Polaroid staff. They had developed a new form of photographic paper that requires no ink, but rather reacts to slight amounts of heat to produce an image, much like instant Polaroid pictures of the past. Hart Corp tapped into the knowledge of Konica’s Division President, who was also a former Polaroid employee, to help introduce Zink to the manufacturing process, and to prove that it had a high probability of meeting their needs. After several plant tours and discussions between Zink and Konica’s engineers, it was determined that the Whitsett facility and equipment were well-suited to Zink’s needs. Hart Corporation facilitated negotiations with Konica and Zink and brought in both state and local officials to discuss economic development incentives. Zink’s purchase offer was based on performing test runs of Konica’s equipment, to see if the processes would run as their engineers expected.


In the end, Zink purchased both the building and equipment it needed. They were able to continue on with Konica’s contract with Hewlett-Packard, and the majority of Konica’s employees were able to keep their jobs with the new company. In record time, and against a difficult deadline, Hart’s team of national and regional agents succeeded in completing the sale.

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