Rochester's Rise Amid Kodak's Demise
Videk is another company that's leading high tech manufacturing in Rochester and traces its founding directly to the research and development labs of Kodak.
The company is a 20-minute drive from downtown. Tom Slechta, Videk's CEO, sits on a chair surrounded by tech trinkets, cameras and rolls of fake checks inside his manufacturing room.
The company produces machine vision automated inspection. In other words, his team of engineers, developers and "solution architects" create software and custom-rig digital cameras and other technology to scan the integrity of labels, checks, bank statements, packages and more.Slechta said his business partners include the Treasury Department, the U.S. Postal Service, Kodak, Canon, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Xerox (XRX), financial institutions (he won't say which ones, but hints that they're large national banks) and others. An example to illustrate the process, Slechta said, is with its automated inspection of Treasury checks. Videk's cameras can verify the integrity of up to 40,000 Treasury Department checks per hour with 100% accuracy. Another way to explain the process is if a financial institution wants to be sure the bank statement of John Doe actually gets mailed to John Doe and not Jane Doe, they go to Videk. The company was spun out of Kodak more than thirty years ago, and some of the engineers who still work there today had helped build the division when it was part of Kodak. Slechta, who has a bio-medical background, said Bausch & Lomb recruited and hired him at a young age. Soon, though, he left the eye care company and headed for Videk after it spun out of Kodak. When asked about Videk's use of cameras and its ties to Kodak, Slechta said Kodak came to them in the late 80s to help design and develop an industrial camera using its megaplus pixels sensor elements. "So, that kind of was a start of digital cameras, if you will, for Kodak," Slechta said. The trial didn't work at the time as the cameras were worth thousands of dollars, but Slechta said it was a good idea for Kodak to prototype the function and see what they could do with it. Beyond Videk's digital cameras, former Kodak employees and status as a former Kodak division, you can find the former photographic filmmaker's footprint in the smallest places at this smaller firm. There's an entire wall in the manufacturing room that has drawers devoted to various trinkets -- bolts and screws, as well as electronic parts -- used for the verification systems. The drawers, though, are labeled with "K-" and then a number. Slechta said that's how Kodak categorized parts. Videk still uses the same system.
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