The employees hunted for ways to cut expenses while keeping quality high by streamlining manufacturing and reducing waste. They made impressive progress. “But when all was said and done, they didn’t get there, despite their best efforts”, Charles Brown, Kodak’s Senior Vice President of global manufacturing, told the Rochester newspaper.
The paper reported that the cost of labor was the main factor. The worldwide average pay for Kodak employees is $27 an hour, while competing OTU manufacturers have paid their workers in China something like $150 per month, substantially less than $1 per hour. So, Kodak will move its OTU manufacturing to its factories in Xiamen, China and Guadalajara, Mexico, and import the cameras back to the U.S. market. But the Kodak film in the OTUs will continue to be made in Rochester, and so will some of the OTU lenses.
About 200 of the OTU workers found new jobs within Kodak with help from the company, and they applaud Kodak’s assistance. Another 260 Kodak employees lost their jobs because of the plant closing, and 40 took early retirement.