Printer Makers Bankruptcy Causing Parts Shortage

A bankruptcy filing by former printer manufacturer Genicom Corp. last March is still having a ripple effect on some users and resellers who are having trouble finding parts and supplies for printers sold under the names of Compaq Computer Corp. and Genicom itself.

Chantilly, Va.-based Genicom filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 on March 10.

That continues to cause major headaches for users such as Kurt Huddleston, management information systems manager at The Inland Group Inc., a property management business in Oak Brook, Ill.

Huddleston today said he has been having problems getting a new printing drum for an eight-month-old Compaq-branded laser printer that was made by Genicom and is still under warranty. He also was unable to get toner and developer solutions for a different Compaq-branded model made by Genicom, a situation that eventually forced him to resort to using substitute products from Hewlett-Packard Co.

"We've been calling Genicom [about getting a new printing drum], and they can't provide the part," Huddleston said. "They just say they don't have any and they don't anticipate getting any in." Huddleston added that he also tried pursuing the matter with Compaq's field service organization, but also was unsuccessful in finding the needed part.

Earlier this month, Genicom's printer unit was sold to Genicom LLC, a newly created affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla. Bill Willard, a sales director for Genicom's eastern region, acknowledged that the bankruptcy filing earlier this year and the sale of the printer division to a new owner have resulted in tight supplies of parts and equipment.

But, Willard said, the company is in the printer business to stay and has started picking up the pace of its parts shipments in recent weeks. The availability of parts "was worse soon after the [bankruptcy] filing," he said. "I can tell you our business is strong and is growing. Customers have hung in with us." He added that Genicom executives expect the situation "to be a lot more stable going forward."

Two resellers who deal with Genicom confirmed that parts availability has been difficult since March.

"Everyone is having problems," said Kirt Southerland, a spokesman for Bital Analysis Consulting Services in Shorewood, Ill. "Nobody can get these parts right now." He added that Genicom's bankruptcy is also affecting shipments of parts for the printer business of the former Digital Equipment Corp., which Genicom bought three years ago.

Les Brown, printer division sales manager at American Computer Hardware Corp. in Santa Ana, Calif., said the parts shortages have been frustrating for his customers. "It's still something we're grappling with," Brown said. "The whole Genicom marketplace is in disarray."

Officials at Houston-based Compaq weren't available for comment on the Genicom situation today.

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