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After the fall: GEON – Andy McCourt’s Reverb

Tuesday, 12 March 2013
By Andy McCourt
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In the aftermath of the GEON collapse and the ongoing developments seeing parts of the group sold off and other parts shut down, Print21‘s Andy McCourt (pictured), investigates the increasingly complex series of events surrounding the failed print group’s demise and lays it out plain and clear for all to see.

The outpouring of grief, disappointment and outrage over the situation with Geon and its group of companies, shows no sign of abating. For displaced staff, the injury is being compounded by the insult of not having separation certificates issued and being told to register with FEG/GEERS for any hope of a portion of their entitlements. This is a dark time indeed in the history of the printing industry, industrial relations and insolvency practice. Put another way, it’s a diabolical disgrace.

I knew and did business with several of the business owners whose firms subsequently formed the agglomerated Geon group. Don Elliot (Agency Printing) has already aired his disgust publicly and questioned how a very profitable business can be handed over to new management who so swiftly destroyed all the value. The Van Weeren family of Dynamic Press, which suffered the tragic early death of its heir apparent and my friend Ray, would have to be one of the most successful family-run mid-size printers ever. Hard-nosed to do business with and demanding to work for, but committed to maintaining secure employment in a family atmosphere.

The late Ron Hoolihan of Graphic World can not speak for himself so I will try: he’ll be turning in his grave. I am told on reliable authority that another printer who sold to Geon/Gresham wept openly when news of his former business’s closure and sacking of staff was announced.

So, how do these MBA and CPA-endowed wunderkinds of the financial world manage to raze-to-the-ground and trample upon a collection of good businesses that were once the pride and joy of family owners, highly profitable, tolerable employers and so attractive that they were bought for good sums? Is there a post-graduate course in blithering idiocy for some MBA-PE types?

The pride that existed on the pressroom and bindery floors of these once great businesses never went away. This was the human capital that the likes of Geon and the ‘old’ Blue Star were fortunate to inherit. The private-equity backed owners played it to the hilt, citing all the usual corporate platitudes of ‘loyalty’ and ‘people are our greatest asset’ and ‘proud to be a member of such a great team’ – before turning on them like a cobra striking at its prey and then severing all the lifelines that might offer hope. “Don’t be evil” is Google’s motto; theirs may well have been: “Be evil.” Having acquired once proud businesses and staff who took great pride in their work, all that this particular branch of private equity management could deliver was false security.

Lulled by corporate mission statements and platitudes; mind-numbed by banal work practices requiring skilled press operators to stop printing while they swept the floor, kept yellow lines bright and the old lie ‘people are our greatest asset’ – savvier Geon staffers just quit, while those with fewer choices stayed in a place that, according to some, seemed to take on all the characteristics of Orwell’s dystopian 1984 – complete with Proles, Newspeak and Thought Police. Not to mention a Big Brother.

A DISGRACED BRAND NAME

Then there’s the renaming – Geon – it’s what a great industry friend, now retired, would call ‘an exercise in applied wankmanship.’ The more academically inclined might call it epistemological solipsism, but ‘applied wankmanship’ will do. Geon: – do you know what it means? There are three possible meanings, all of them apposite to the press-wreck we have witnessed. A Geon can be a theoretical object or shape corresponding to ‘Biederman’s Recognition-by-Components Theory’ – is that clear? In Physics, a Geon can also be a theoretical electromagnetic or gravitational wave held together solely by its own energy field. In Geology; it’s a long, long extinct time period such as Jurassic and Mesozoic.

Not only did Geon, under Gordon Towell’s  CEO watch, choose an appalling name to replace the more logical Pacific Print Group, but it then, under Graham Morgan’s watch, ‘refreshed’ the brand mere weeks before disappearing up its own Geon. This makes Nero look like a brave firefighter in ancient Rome.

Destroying brand value, profits, jobs and reputations has many faces but the most prominent one I can see in all this is: greed – closely followed by incompetence. Becoming wealthy is not necessarily an essential by-product of greed. Some people can create fortunes by just being honest with themselves and others – Warren Buffet for example; Bill Gates is another. Even our own Kerry Packer was unfairly charged with being greed-driven; I think he was more achievement-driven and hyper-competitive; like Dick Smith, another example.

No, the greed that has driven Geon to where it is now is all the corrosive, amoral, lying, exploiting and manipulative kind of greed that betrays its own needs and wants. Gresham Private equity thought it could make a massive return for its #2 Fund by loading Geon up with debt, leeching all the value out of it and selling it off like discarded old wife – for just $1: ONE DOLLAR!! according to the AFR’s ‘Street Talk’ columnist Anthony Macdonald. KKRM saw that it could buy Geon’s (and other) debts at a huge discount but claim back the full amount by use of a dextrous piece of corporate chicanery whereby anyone owed unsecured money – including staff – by Geon would suddenly be cast into a mire-filled ditch of unrecoverable bills and claims. If anyone believes that the asset sale followed by liquidation of Geon will realize more than the $92 million it owes to KKRM, the Tooth Fairy will visit you at 5am tomorrow.

A DEEP AND DISTURBING KNOCK-ON

It’s not just the big debts to paper companies, the ATO and staff entitlements that should worry us. Geon dealt with scores of smaller suppliers, contractors and service providers.

With an estimated $120 million of debt – $92 million of which is KKRM’s secured amount purchased for much less than half of that from Lloyds/BOSI; it is easy to focus on big unsecured creditors. However, the hurt drills down deep into our industry with dozens of small suppliers and contractors, such as David Crowther’s  Colour Graphic Services who provided ISO 12647 implementation, uniting and certification services to GEON.

Crowther notes: “I’m not saying what we are owed but it is a very significant amount for a small service business like ours. We deliver a very high level of personalised technical support and training which makes it all the more painful when that goes unpaid for. I have made a lot of close working relationships with GEON staff, and even have a few close friends that I have known for over 35 years. Yes I have been hit hard, but there is always someone worse off than yourself and I really feel for those struggling with a family, mortgage and wondering where there next pay check is coming from.

“For me I like to take a positive outlook and not to dwell on the past. There is still a number of high quality, well run printing businesses that I deal with day to day, so it is head down still doing the best I can to deliver what I believe is the regions best colour quality systems support,” he says, just one example of many.

As these smaller creditors seek to re-engineer their businesses to cope with cash losses, they themselves may struggle to meet their obligations. Some will survive – usually by mortgaging personal property – but some will fall by the wayside in a sad but inevitable knock-on effect as certain as tsunamis follow deep sea earthquakes. Most of these will go unreported as the Geon debacle winds down.

IN THE LAP OF THE RECEIVERS

And winding down it is; we are nearing the final round of asset sales prior to the March 25th, or thereabouts, second creditors meeting. McGrathNicol, on both sides of the Tasman, are furtively seeking buyers.

Andrew Grenfell and William Black of McGrathNicol NZ, in response to my questions on Geon’s NZ operations including the world-class Highbrook supersite have said:

“(We) are pleased to confirm that offers were received by the deadline of Friday 8 March 2013. The receivers are currently working through those offers. As negotiations have not yet completed the receivers cannot comment further at this time.”

With yesterday’s news that wages will continue to be paid by the receivers until the end of this week, things are looking better for some of our Kiwi friends than they are this side of the ditch, unless you are one of the unfortunate ones to have already lost their jobs, courtesy of the receiver.

The GEON administrators, PPB Associates, are there to administer the assets of the business because the directors believed the company was, or risked becoming, insolvent. Sources close to PPBA are at pains to point out that it is the receivers, McGrathNicol, and not PPBA who have the necessary employee information to issue separation certificates and advise asset purchasers such as Blue Star on how to contact staff to whom they wish to offer re-employment.

PPBA does however have a role to play in the availability of the Fair Entitlement Guarantee (FEG: formerly GEERS) to ex-Geon staff. They are working closely with both FEG and McGrathNicol to determine the best outcomes. For employee entitlements to be paid from Geon receivables, there must be a surplus from the realized ‘circulation assets’ i.e. debtors, cash-at-bank and non fixed-asset incomes. First dibs go to the administration and receiver’s fees, then staff entitlements. For fixed assets (presses, property etc), the secured creditor KKRM comes ahead of staff, so there is little hope there of a surplus.

McGrathNicol is highly respected  in the insolvency world with several high-profile receiverships and liquidations either under their belt or in progress such as ABC Learning Centres, Allco Finance, Banksia Securities, Harris Scarfe and the infamous HIH Insurance to name but a few.  Like all registered receivers, they must declare independence and impartiality in any receivership or liquidation.

Receivers’ and administrators’ fees often come in for criticism and they are certainly high, with a Senior Partner charged at anything up to $700 per hour and even a junior admin assistant at $160. The hours for multiple associates can mount up to a frightening level; PPBA disclosed their estimated costs for the first six days alone of the Geon administration at around $100,000, before McGrathNicol’s fees.

Receivers and administrators pay themselves first ahead of all other creditors. When you consider the risk they take in guaranteeing wages and debts during the administration, this is understandable but can sometimes result in all surplus recovered assets being used to pay fees. I know this from experience; I was once owed a paltry $3,500 by a company placed into liquidation. I optimistically put my claim in with the receivers, only to be informed a few weeks later that there was no surplus as all the recovered monies had gone in fees and the company was 100% liquidated.

THE QUICKER THE BETTER

So, the best hope for staff entitlements is that McGrathNicol can wrap this one up fast, keep fees down and leave some money left over from circulating assets (there is an ASIC formula for calculating the percentage of their fees attributed to circulating/floating and fixed assets). At this stage, no one knows, and in the meantime they have fired workers on both sides of the Tasman to keep their wage bill under control.

Receivers and liquidators are all-powerful; the Kings of the jungle in the corporate menagerie. They have teams of forensic accountants to go after the money and if they find illicit goings on, must report these to ASIC who can and have, as in the case of HIH (Ray Williams and Rodney Adler), prosecuted and put perpetrators in gaol. They are the fiscal waste collection and recycling service for businesses; an essential service that cleans up other people’s mess and attempts to return distilled purity to the market. Sadly, there is always collateral damage and that means individuals and families. Insolvency Law is currently under Treasury review with the Insolvency Law Reform Bill, and none too soon.

It is heartbreaking to read some of the ex-Geon employee and smaller supplier comments on this forum. The spin and disinformation fed to them appears to have continued right up to Geon’s last breath, creating the false sense of security. Even the AMWU was ‘Of the view that this was a very viable company.’

For many of the proud and highly skilled staff of Geon, everything will be too late but the hope on the horizon is that the new houses of Blue Star/Wolsely/Selig in Australia and Blue Star/Mercury/Sturgess in NZ are built on much more solid foundations with industry-knowledgeable heads, a firm capital base and realistic expectations of returns.

The pride of members of the ANZ printing workforce is immortal: – the false security engendered by Geon Group is already smouldering in the dust of decay and putrefaction.

McGrathNicol Australia and KKRM via Allegro Funds were invited to answer a series of questions for this article but at time of completing, have not done so. Thanks to PPBA and McGrathNicol NZ for their input.

28 Responses to “After the fall: GEON – Andy McCourt’s Reverb”

  1. March 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm,

    Ex dynamic
    said:

    As an ex Dynamic employee of over 10 years the writing was on the wall from the day Geon took over, all our systems and work flow methods which took nearly 50 years of development by the Van Wierens were simply pushed aside and rubbished by the new management. So, so sad to see such a well-oiled engine run into the ground in a matter of 6 years. Oh and by the way we had lines on the floor way before Geon, we only needed to change them once a year the rest of the time we concentrated on PRINTING

  2. March 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm,

    Kiwi
    said:

    Thank you for a very well written article. Both you and I know that many of my hostile comments that were directed at Geon and the likes of Morgan were moderated. I have no doubt that the comments of many others may also have been moderated but we all felt better having somewhere to publicly and anonymously direct our anger. As my wife and I sat reading your article a feeling came over us that we had at last been heard and that you had gone in to bat for all of those in NZ and Australia that up till now had not had a voice. Those of us in NZ who are on $14 per hour had no more to give when the cost cutters asked us to take leave without pay and so we didn’t. However we have kept our shoulders firmly to the wheel as the “good ship Geon” was driven firmly on to the reef.

  3. March 12, 2013 at 11:50 pm,

    Need a job
    said:

    I did put a fair bit of time into Buscombe Vicprint then Penfold Buscombe to be Promentum whatever to arrive at Geon.
    I know what you are saying about quality work et al but in reality this has not been happening in these kinda of places for years.
    It is all about producing a number of samples that cut the mustard and the rest of the job can be ho-hum, as long as the samples look ok!
    This is a practice within the industry that has to stop as a whole, been encountering it everywhere. Geon is not the only one guilty of that one, i see printing now as one of the biggest rip off industries where a customer does not really get what he pays for!! it has become endemic to this industry.

    Could you imagine, for example, Panasonic producing a few sample plasma televisions that look great, the client loves it and what goes out to the customer is shite?
    Us on the shop floor were ashamed to produce what we did produce at times. printers were not allowed enough alcohol to reduce running costs, so work barely dried for those poor binders.
    Machines running at top speed as commanded by Big Brother, yet in turn producing shite for the subsequent processes on the pallet fed folders.
    The place was a nightmare for any self-respecting tradesman whether he was printer or binder. I know very little about pre-press issues, they were not on shop floor really.
    I haven’t been proud of my job in years already prior to my experience with Geon and the preceding chain of companies.
    It’s all about the samples……
    What has ended up coming into being at Geon is a travesty perpetrated on us by Morgan and the Big Brother but they will go along their merry way destroying some other company.

    Personally I am on my knees praying that it will be Blue Star for their role in this, and for the point that there should not be big printing conglomerates such as this new monster that has been created.
    Cut of its head i reckon, return to days of yore which were not really all that long ago where your printer was local and knew his stuff.
    No more handpicked samples, make the whole job sample quality i implore of you. Every sheet a winner!
    I am truly sorry to have worked at Geon and having engaged in applied wankmanship.
    I was outclassed and outwanked by those at the head of the company.

  4. March 13, 2013 at 1:49 am,

    Malcolm
    said:

    I would be interested to know how Mr McCourt thinks that Gresham “leeched all the value out of it (GEON)”
    Was this done by taking dividends, or by charging management or other fees, or by selling GEON’s assets and keeping the cash? It would be illuminating if Mr McCourt could provide further details on this matter.

    There are a number of reasons for GEON’s demise, including the global financial crisis and the fact that the businesses that comprise GEON were bought at the top of the market for inflated prices. However, the overiding cause of the failure was totally incompetent management The list of management decisions and practices that are responsible for GEON’s current predicament is almost endless, and includes the disastrous Big Shed programme, the ONE GEON project, the LEAP programme, the constant restructures, the layer upon layer of middle management, the “Brand Refresh’,the promotion of incompetents, the removal of threats to senior management, the lack of empathy with the workers on the floor, the lies and half-truths, the lack of understanding of the importance of sales, the tolerating of sub-par performance and the introduction of time wasting procedures and paperwork, especially in the HR area. There would be less paperwork involved in importing a nuclear bomb into Australia than in recruiting a worker to GEON.

    But there is one question for which I have no answer – what were GEON’s Directors, several of whom are involved in the management consulting industry, doing for the past five years, when each month’s figures from GEON showed a continually deteriorating position for the company’s finances ? Will we ever know?

  5. March 13, 2013 at 8:24 am,

    KJW
    said:

    Excellent article Andy but let’s not forget the well-run New Zealand based Geon companies as well like the former Brebner Print in Napier. A great place to work with top people and an emphasis on having everyone in production trade qualified.

  6. March 13, 2013 at 9:11 am,

    said:

    Andy, this is possibly the best commentary I’ve read in the last few weeks on the final unravelling of GEON/BSG. We were approached by PPG back when they only had two other businesses and they were offering silly money back then. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but even back when we were approached I didn’t feel right about giving up our sovereignty to people that knew nothing about the print industry. I watched them swallow several other print businesses, all successful in their own right, and the corporate suits did exactly as you said. They used the profitability of these businesses to feed their Gordon Gecko images and piss millions of dollars of other people’s money up against the wall.

  7. March 13, 2013 at 10:36 am,

    Andy McCourt
    said:

    First, thanks for these excellent comments which add dimension and understanding to it all. Where to start? ‘ex-Dynamic’ yes it was always a pleasure to be inside Dynamic and see how a real printshop operates. And I remember Wilma’s cream cakes! ‘Kiwi’ – I don’t moderate comments myself and I know the Publisher is the most free-speech supporting person in the industry but there have been some that would land Print21 in hot water or even a knock on the door by men in blue.
    ‘Need a Job’ – you made me laugh for fully a minute with that closing line! Sorry to learn that job quality was also sacrificed at Geon; more evidence of appalling management, not your fault. BTW scroll down the P21 website and you’ll find at least 2 jobs that might suit a bloke with your obvious skills – depending on where you are located. ‘Malcolm’ – not sure if you are a lawyer so I’ll be circumspect, as you do write like one. It is common practice in PE to convert assets acquired into cash by re-financing. Property tends to be sold off and leased back. A PE fund is not like normal business paying dividends. Yes they take ‘management fees’ – hefty ones. But what provides the cream is known as the ‘carry’ – wads of cash periodically paid out as capital gain, not bonuses or dividends. As capital gain, it is tax-free, hence the strong NZ PE connection where there is no CGT. BTW, I don’t buy the GFC excuse – I know many well-run print businesses who prospered or held their ground throughout the GFC.
    ‘KJW’ truly sorry; I did not acknowledge NZ enough yet again. You are absolutely right particularly about Brebners. NZ has always punched above its weight where print excellence is concerned, there’s a lot of pride and skill both in production and management. BTW Geoff Wilding is resident in UK now, rolling up (pun intended) the carpet industry and also the probate business would you believe. His mate Rod Martin is in Auckland, also aggregating the floor covering industry – see http://www.lincolncapital.co.nz.
    Bruce Le Pine – what can I say? You are bang on and should be writing for Print21 instead of me.

  8. March 13, 2013 at 10:38 am,

    Innocent Bystander
    said:

    I started to wonder about Geon when they started sponsoring an NRL team. Bet that sold a lot of print …

  9. March 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm,

    Glenn
    said:

    Well said Andy, PPG approached us about selling our business in the mid 2000’s and the money on offer was very enticing. Happily we didn’t take it, and although it probably cost us in a monetary sense, I think the outcome was probably better in the longer term for our employees when we finally did sell (years later) to a company that was a better fit in all regards. Clearly the Geon model was doomed to fail when it was encumbered by enormous borrowings in a shrinking market. I sincerely wish all the best to those people directly impacted by it’s failure, and hope they can find new employment quickly.

  10. March 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm,

    Syke
    said:

    This has been a terrible loss for many people. I think it’s a bit rough that many are seemingly so eager for Bluestar to collapse as well. That will just mean more job losses. The Bluestar employees are nervous also.

  11. March 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm,

    Geonworkersfamily
    said:

    Well the staff at sydney that were told had been ‘saved’ last week by bluestar have just been made redundant too! After working all week to get the orders out thinking they had safe jobs and now work is done, been told to clear off. Nice one bluestar, just how many ‘meaningful’ jobs did you save?

  12. March 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm,

    Buster
    said:

    I have enjoyed reading your comments Andy, but I am still amazed how an industry will allow the so called leader of GEON to just continue like nothing has happened. He has kept his job and has not a care in the world about what happened and to who, employees, suppliers, industry, but he stays in industry with the company that purchased customer lists. A disgrace, while other GEON loyal employees remain in Perth and NZ without a word from the CEO and so called leader. That is the real issue, no leadership at the top and he will continue to get paid while the rest of us now have to wait for our employment certificates and hopefully some of our entitlements, in the meantime find another role and hopefully not stay so angry.

  13. March 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm,

    Ex GEON Employee
    said:

    Many Thanks Andy for a great article that clears the haze somewhat about the Titanic’s dealings.
    It breaks my heart that great tradies who take immense pride in their work have been dumped on the pile like rotting rubbish, when the people at the very forefront of professional responsibility land on their feet with another golden opportunity. I saw personally, first hand , the dealings of these fakes and professional bastards , and it was always the practice of the mighty GEON to cut and cull from the floor. Don’t spare the rod on the blue collar was the catchcry. I left GEON a few years ago because of the egos and the politics of the place , but to this day am still in contact with close friends, and very proud and gifted tradesmen that have been left high and dry by the very same people that DEMANDED 100 % loyalty, faith and effort , and it makes me sick to my stomach , the treatment that these good people have received. The workers were not even given separation certificates to begin the Centerlink process . Well done…

  14. March 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm,

    Andy McCourt
    said:

    Regarding Blue Star’s role: certainly the brand Blue Star is also tainted and, in my view, probably the best thing to do is change it to Caxton in Australia (which is the Selig-owned vehicle used to acquire BS with the help of Wolseley Private Equity; and another name in NZ for the Sturgesss-Tiri version. Calls for Blue Star’s demise are ill-advised as it is in no way connected with the Champ PE -controlled Blue Star Holdings that gouged $108 million from bondholders and sold out moments before inevitable insolvency. Hard to swallow but the 2 Blue Star’s of today are different companies, but the name continues, which should be fixed. Very sad news that the number of Geon staff offered employment at BS looks lower than first stated. Buster, I too am mystified that a senior manager of such a miserably failed company should be taken on by new owners but can only assume he carries ‘secrets’ that are useful to the said new owners. My understanding is that it is not a permanent position but a transitional one; not that it makes it any more palatable for Geon employees. I am hoping that once the presses are moved into Blue Star sites, the need to recruit extra staff will provide at least some more jobs but the limbo in-between, compounded by sluggish separation certificates from McGrathNicol, is just awful and I think a few emails, calls and letters to MPs are warranted. McGrathNicol: it can’t be that hard to issue the certificates and still continue negotiations with asset purchasers can it?

  15. March 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm,

    kiwi printer
    said:

    The first time I meet Graham Morgan was at a quarterly meeting where they Introduced ONE GEON to all the branches. Caps cooler bags shirts were handed out.
    From that time on people were made redundant,branches closed machinery moved from one place to the next then moved again and so on. Morgan and his team jetted around NZ and Aussie staying at the best hotels and entertaining having a wonderful time. Perhaps Skype would have been a cheaper option?
    Now it’s history and he and other top ranking managers carry on at Blue Star.
    It’s my belief some questions need to be answered,for example why was Albany branch in Auckland closed and moved with all its equipment to the Auckland branch of Kingsland and less than 6 months later the same gear moved to Highbrook?
    Building work alterations were started at Kingsland, half way through work was stopped the remaining digital equipment there removed and moved into Highbrook alterations were made at Highbrook. Any work that was not completed at Kingsland was torn down and the building left vacant with no one to take over the lease.
    Who makes these decisions? A prime example of the mentality its ‘not our money so who cares?’
    I believe there needs to be some sort of inquiry and I believe things have happened over the entire company not just in NZ

  16. March 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm,

    Andrew
    said:

    My wife is among the many Geon workers made redundant!
    She was advised to contact FEG.
    Guess what, final paperwork regarding her redundancy and the FEG can not be processed!
    We tried on-line and eventually in person at CentreLink.
    Why? The required final official letter confirming her redundancy and payout entitlements
    has not been received! What is the hold up!!!!?
    Many of her previous work mates are in the same situation.
    I pity the other employees who relied on the regular wages to pay home mortgage and school fees..
    Thankfully, we can survive on my printing industry wage.

  17. March 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm,

    Phoenix
    said:

    I was a printer who came across to Geon from Graphic Printworks in Melbourne.
    Graphic Printworks was a company that had a great leader and chose to surround
    himself with skilled men and women. He in return ended up with a very profitable
    company given the amount of people he employed and the reliable presses he chose
    to have.
    When the opportunity came to him and his partner to sell this great company to these
    clowns it was a very sad day, however I would have done the same.
    Where I ended up was continuing my job as a printer at the Mount Waverley site.
    Seeing our old clientele list dwindle so quickly was one of many disturbing things that took place.
    Seeing some supervisors leap frogging to positions that you just wonder how, seeing
    and watching these people go about there business with ego issues along with “0” people skills
    was also disturbing.
    The changes we had to put up with were so unorthodox from these people.
    Such as open tea and coffee mugs banned, wearing safety goggles when replacing ink canisters,
    filling out and signing a 25 point check list prior printing, pulling up presses to have all press room
    staff clean floors and re tape lines, breathing apparatuses to be worn while handling chemicals,
    radios been banned, the one thing that sticks with me the most was yet another manager taking
    snap shots at how unclean we kept the factory floor.
    So this treatment we had to put up with was an absolute disgrace in my view.
    We would never dare question these changes as us fellow printers would be managed out the door. Shame, Shame, Shame.

    It would be good to have this forum left open for fellow ex employees to vent their opinions
    as this would be a great starting point for having a say and putting this unfair past behind them and too help
    move on.

    Great read Andy,
    Now I know why the Geon managers didn’t rate you.
    Keep up the work.

  18. March 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm,

    would u like platinum with that
    said:

    “Need a job” I worked at GEON Brisbane and I’ve got to say that the quality that came out of there was actually very very good. Evidence of this can be found in the fact that our spoilage rate was the lowest in the group. I’m not defending GEON in any way – would you like Platinum with that, CASH IS KING !!!!! dribble dribble dribble – just defending, emphasising the good people I worked with and the work we did. A terrible shame we went down because we really were a good team. I’ve lost all faith in the Printing Industry and truly hope I never have to set foot inside a Print Shop again. Printing died the day PE companies got involved. GEON can keep their “Platinum” and if “Cash is King” then where’s mine and my workmates.

  19. March 14, 2013 at 8:57 am,

    said:

    I have worked close to 5 years at Geon and thought I’d retire here. But it was not meant to be and I don’t regret it. I have worked with a fantastic group of people and I thank Geon for giving me the opportunity to work with them.
    There are lessons to be learnt from all this whether they (the top management) will ever take heed or not or run aground another company they have been employed with and do the same to the staff that work for them. Consciencious people appear to be the fading race and the society of scums and mongrels seems to be the in thing and surprisingly they survive

  20. March 14, 2013 at 9:47 am,

    said:

    On the positive note Geon gave me an opportunity to work with a lot of good people.
    I’m perplexed and disappointed that the “So Called” top managers can run the company aground.
    It appears to be true that everyone seems to lining their pockets to the detriment of their fellow employees.
    Consciencious people seem to be a dying race and enter the dragons, scums and turds. Is that a fair description I don’t know. But nevertheless good luck to all the ex-employees of Geon especially all the managers and directors. If you believe in Karma watch out

  21. March 14, 2013 at 11:29 am,

    Andy McCourt
    said:

    Hi Phoenix – yes PK was a great operator. Thanks for:
    “Great read Andy,
    Now I know why the Geon managers didn’t rate you.”

    Mate, I’d be REALLY worried if they had!

  22. March 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm,

    Jaded
    said:

    Let us all just cut to the chase, the CEO of GEON is responsible. There were good leaders in this business but all were marched out when they dare challenge CEO position on key aspects. I actually think they ran the profitable businesses, The CEO ran business for just on 5 years, failed, failed, failed.

  23. March 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm,

    Employee
    said:

    i love lamp!

  24. March 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm,

    ex Geon
    said:

    The writing has been on the wall for some years for Geon NZ! In the days…good systems were in place! No hangers-on or FOOLS were suffered! It worked well. During the reign of G Morgan however everything that was good was changed!

  25. March 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm,

    Bystander
    said:

    Having twice been made redundant myself (in 2005 when Kalamazoo when bust, and then in 2009 when Blue Star acquired McMillan Printing) I am totally sympathetic to the GEON workers who have been discarded due to poor management of once successful businesses.
    Running a successful printing company requires a lot of hard work, a genuine interest in the many processes involved, and a real hands-on approach – none of which is possible when run by bankers and investors.
    As far as I can tell, when these massive corporations move in, it is always with an exit strategy in their back pocket – because they’re not ever in it for the long haul.
    We’re all better off without them!

  26. March 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm,

    To need a job - from pre press
    said:

    Pre press were I the same situation, so many ridiculous procedures which if we’re not followed could mean the sack. It meant the same to us , no pride in work. Just get it out fast & follow procedure above any pride in work. We are all equal, pre press, printer, bindery. Skilled people unable to be skilled. As sad as I am after so long at Geon I now feel it had to happen. So much greed at the top & Geon have always paid poorly. I’m lucky I have found another job, better pay & using the skills I have. Best of luck to all & I hope you an all feel one day that it was the best thing that could of happened to you. Stressing over a checklist you forgot to fill out even when your work is excellent is no way to live!

  27. March 18, 2013 at 7:26 am,

    Geon Highbrook
    said:

    We were were made Jobless on Friday with a bag full of disappointment that Geon didn’t get sold to someone who plans on leaving it open for staff to have a job. I’m reading this and at the end of the day I just want to make sure we get our staff entitlement. I’ve worked for Geon for 30 long yrs. I’m more than disgusted how things suddenly went.!

  28. March 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm,

    NZ Customer
    said:

    I feel for the staff and I’m sorry to hear the news.
    I’m guttered too; we moved from a small printing company to Geon to get all our packaging needs sorted (‘’a one stop shop we were told’’) we needed all packaging to be right the first time, on time and in volume as we are going global with our products, we thought it would be way better to deal with a large corporate company like Geon as they ticked all the boxes (at first) and it was very close to our manufacturing plant, we thought we couldn’t go wrong……..well it was problem after problem with all of our packaging needs, some delays took 3 months to fix which pissed off all our customers, we are still in the process of getting our cutting plates and artwork back so we can move forward with another printer, it has now taken 3 weeks since we decided to move and we still have no clue of when we will get our stuff back… we owe Geon nothing ($$) we paid them on time every time and get treated like a number, I can’t imagine the roll-on effect this will have with manufacturing throughout New Zealand and Australia.
    We are now going to grow our company with a smaller (family owned) printing company in New Zealand.
    Good luck to everyone.

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