Film News: A Roller Coaster Ride for Tetenal

Tetenal, one of (and arguably) the world’s largest photographic chemical manufacturers, has been caught in quite a tizzy since twenty-nineteen started. The word that after 172 years Tetenal was heading the way of the dodo spread like a California wildfire and has sent ripples throughout the industry like a supernova.

However, certain photography “news” outlets have jumped the gun and rashly discharged erroneous information to the masses. There is  more than meets the eye and to set things straight with the state of Tetenol, we at JCH consulted a source as close to the horse’s mouth as possible. Per Marwan El-Mozayen, Editor-in-Chief, PhotoKlassik International:

The last few days have seen a real drama unfold surrounding the world’s oldest photochemical company, Tetenal. We have known since last September that they were going through an insolvency process, and at first there was a lot of optimism and interesting plans being tossed around for possible ways to restructure and move forward on a positive note. Then, ominously, on January 1st the consultancy firm that had been called in to help with the process suddenly cut communications with employees of all ranks. Although people were still working on plans that had been tentatively put forth in December during brainstorming meetings with outside specialists, including myself, there was a sense of spinning wheels without traction. Through my contacts, I was aware that Tetenal produced a staggering amount of the chemicals that the Biggest Names depend on to produce their products; in at least one case, 100% of the chemicals used to produce their own products came from Tetenal. There was a lot of nervous energy in the air.

Then, on January 29th, the sword fell; most of the employees were let go with no notice, and it was announced that the company would produce final orders until April and then close its doors for good. The reaction in the analog community was immediate and powerful— this can’t be allowed to happen!

On the evening of January 30th, just as the news was spreading like wildfire that the company would close, a startling press release came out.

“In the aftermath of the decision to close down the firm, employees have taken the initiative to try to save the photochemical part of the organization through a management buy-out.  They hope to keep producing the successful traditional photochemicals and perhaps even develop new products.  Dr. Sven-Holger Undritz, head of the liquidation firm in charge of the insolvency proceedings, said today, “If the employees can make their ideas into reality, it could very well be a new start for Tetenal.”  Despite the loss of many experienced workers, the firm has managed to keep producing their products without any break so far, thanks to the engagement of the remaining staff.”

A new web site has just gone online:  www.new-tetenal.de On it, a vision of hope has opened up, if only tenuously. The entire analog community will be holding its breath and sending the best of luck to the leaders of New Tetenal and offering support however they can. If we hear of anything loyal customers can do to help, we’ll immediately put the word out in capital letters! In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed.

A glimmer of hope that our fingers will not be crossed in vain is this recent tweet from Tetenal UK:

So no, Tetenal hasn’t kicked the bucket yet and will still continue to exist albeit in a different state than before. Here’s hoping the management buyout can steer this big important ship to calmer waters and for little boys to refrain from crying wolf.

MN