Kayell celebrates 40 years

September 7, 2010: More than 140 industry luminaries from today and yesteryear attended a dinner celebration of Kayell’s 40th anniversary at the North Ryde RSL in Sydney, September 1.

Co-founder John Koens, former chairman Ross Adair, one-time Hagemeyer Group MD John Bourne (when Kayell was owned by Hagemeyer), and current MD Rob Gatto all gathered to thank customers, industry associates and former employees for their 40 years as a company. 

Friends and business partners from all over Australia gathered to hear Koens, now retired, relate stories of the early days in the 1970s through to the acquisition and subsequent divestment by trading giant Hagemeyer, and the hand-over to the current management team of Kayell Australia, Robert Gatto and Andreas Johansson.

MC’ed by Photo Marketing Association director Peter Rose, the event was full of reunions and reminiscences between industry people who had not seen each other for years, and newer acquaintances gained since Kayell Australia’s expansion into the fine art and graphic arts sectors.

Speakers recalled highlights and features of Kayell over the years, such as:
– being messed around by council when trying to set up the first Kayell premises in Sydney – quickly sorted by the threat of taking the story to the media;
– Kayell forcing the removal of unwarranted government duties on some photographic accessories;
– the challenges of working with a large global company (Hagemeyer), including the difficulties of using their woefully slow invoicing systems;
– foresight of the Queensland office (where Rob worked at the time) to move into digital at a relatively early stage;
– the challenge of moving from film to digital – for example what to do with a massive 9-door film fridge when all that was needed in the digital age was a bar fridge;
– selling 3-megapixel cameras for $40,000;
– the significant challenge of running a company selling at both wholesale and retail levels;
– an appreciation of the importance of Kayell staff, who take a ‘play hard, work hard’ approach;
– a heart attack in the boardroom nearly having a domino effect!

‘To survive and prosper in the professional imaging industry for 40 years requires constant attention to change and technology, but one thing that remains the same is being a people-focused company. This has always been Kayell’s great strength, learned from its founders and practised by the current management, said Robert Gatto, managing director, Kayell Australia.

– Special thanks to John Swainston, Maxwell International, for coming to the rescue of the photo industry by once again actually bringing a camera along to its functions! Pics below courtesy of John:


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