Robert Tod Responds (Picture Perfect)

Posted on 1/25/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

195

ROBERT TOD REPLYS


January 25, 1999

    In response to our

    Story 192 last week on Picture Perfect, Robert Tod,

    President of Todtri and Picture Perfect, has submitted the following information.

In response to the article appearing in Selling Stock by Jim Pickerell, while it

is true that both companies are behind in their financial obligations the vast

majority of our contributors are fully aware of our situation, our imminent

refinancing, and our repayment proposal to all concerned.

There are inaccuracies, assumptions, some erroneous statements that have been

made in this article that need clarification. Firstly, I am totally unaware of

any request for information from Mr. Pickerell and have been in daily contact

with my office since leaving on my business trip on January 11. Fred Harris is

not my second-in-command - he is a temporary bookkeeper working in our office two

days a week and he has not been contacted by Jim Pickerell as is alleged.

It is unfortunate that the article has been published particularly when we are so

close to resolving all our issues to re-finance and pay all our contributors. It

is one thing to publish factual information, but when much of the information is

based on hypothesis, all it does is create a negative impact all round, that in

some cases causes irreparable damage to relationships.

Picture Perfect and Todtri Productions are two separate companies. The article

is confusing as it mixes and matches as if dealing with one company.

So far as Todtri is concerned, the company has been around for 10 years, is a

multi-million dollar a year business and purchases approximately $500,000 of

photo rights per year. In 1997 there was a downswing in the publishing industry

and Todtri coincidentally suffered a number of calamities that took place at the

same time--late deliveries, high returns, slow payments from principal customers,

bad debts of more than 600,000. This was communicated to our vendors and with

many of them we did our best to reduce our liability by entering into payment

plans.

Some of our vendors were paid off in full, some have received partial payments

and some have yet to be paid. Art Resource is still owed approximately $42,000

and the "few small payments" as reported in the article have amounted to half the

debt. Unfortunately, our trading has taken considerably longer to improve due to

the overall poor performance of illustrated books in general and as a result it

became necessary for us to bring additional liquidity into our business which is

what we are accomplishing with Capstone. We were forced to downsize our

operations which involved laying off 50% of our staff and in turn this caused us

a huge amount of additional work in operating the business. At the same time [we

were] dealing with an increased number of calls from our vendors seeking payment.

We became overloaded and regretfully were unable to maintain the level of

communication that everyone would have liked to have received from us.

The refinancing has been very complicated, as the amount is large, and slow due

to circumstances beyond our control. The world outside of the United States is

having the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. It is almost as if

the rest of the world is in financial meltdown. All lenders have been swamped by

other companies seeking funds and although banks and financial institutions are

all lending money they pick and choose who they want and a company the size of

Todtri takes a rear position in overall importance.

Nonetheless, we have restructured the business both operationally and financially

and expect to complete our re-financing within the next 2-3 weeks.

The lender has required us to enter into Agreements of Composition and

Forbearance Agreements with our principal vendors according to different classes.

Our vendors who are owed in excess of $50,000 and that in totality represents

94% or our indebtedness, have now all entered into these Agreements as a result

of my trip to the Far East where most of them are located. Each vendor has been

placed in a particular class according to the dollar amount owed. All vendors

within each class get treated the same way. ALL vendors get repaid 100% of what

is owed, most over a period of time, those less than $1,000 in one shot.

The date of January 15 was a date that Capstone created and was purposefully

short notice so as to get an immediate response -- which has been achieved by the

majority of our vendors. We have, for the most part, enjoyed long term and

mutually satisfying relationships with our vendors and most have been supportive

to us through these troubled times. We have simply had financial difficulties

due to misfortune and have every good intention of meeting our financial

obligations. Regretfully, a handful of dissatisfied, disgruntled contributors

are stirring things up at everyone else's expense and this is both unfortunate

and unproductive. Simply put, they represent a minority of people who simply

don't care.

It is our understanding that all vendors have been sent either an Agreement of

Composition or a letter advising them of our re-financing and our intended

payments to them. If there are any vendors who have not received the above, then

I request that they fax or write to me personally so I can ensure immediate

action takes place.

As far as Picture Perfect is concerned, the company has enjoyed accelerated

growth in recent years due to the growth of its parent company (Todtri). Todtri

not only loaned Picture Perfect a considerable amount of money for investment

purposes, but it also provided color separation and printing services for Picture

Perfect's catalog as well as catalogs of many overseas agencies that the company

represents. [Editors Note: This doesn't sound like two separate, arms length

companies as implied in the fourth paragraph.]

The majority of the images (90-95% appearing in our P12 catalog have been

supplied by agency contributors. Therefore, the percentage of individual

photographer participation is small. Furthermore, there is no fee for

participation, unlike most other stock agencies, therefore photographers have not

contributed any money to the catalog costs, the dupes, buying of the mailing

lists, mailing cartons, postage, color separation, design and overheads of

Picture Perfect. The assumptions in the distribution costs, volume of sales,

receipts and percentage of dollar disbursements are all assumptions and needless

to say, are all wrong.

All the Agency contributors have receive sales reports for the entire year and

the individual contributors are about to be sent sales reports along with full

payment as soon as our refinancing is in place. The Agency contributors receive

payments over a period of time due to the dollar amounts involved.

Photographer, Andy Goodwin, is not a Picture Perfect contributor. He belongs to

one of our Agency contributors. When he saw the Kellogg's usage recently, he

telephoned me personally. I accepted his call, brought up the sale on our

computer system, told him the dollar amount ($10,000) not $20,000 as stated in

the report and also advised him that the sale had only recently been made and

payment not received.

The implication made in the report suggests that photographers don't make any

money from catalog sales despite the fact the larger agencies derive 70-80% of

their revenue stream from catalog sales. I should know since I spent 9 years as

a Director of the Image Bank and 4 years with the Telegraph Colour Library, now

part of Visual Communications Group that purchased FPG. This has also been our

experience at Picture Perfect with the 13 catalogs we have.

Of course, the most effective way for individual photographers to market their

images is to go round and visit every photo buyer in the country. Don't be

surprised to read in Selling Stock suggestions to stop taking pictures because of

the increased costs in film and processing.

Don't believe everything you read.

No-one likes being owed money; however, most of our contributions are sympathetic

and have confidence in our ability to resolve our difficulties, make full

payments and move on together. The alternative of filing for court protection is

so easy to do and the majority of our contributors should recognize the integrity

I have as a business owner to re-pay what is outstanding and be more appreciative

of my efforts to pay them in full through our re-financing with Capstone.

Sincerely,

Robert M. Tod

President


Feedback:

Mark Romine

I do not believe that Mr Todd is telling the truth, for one

thing, although I have not contributed for production costs on Picture

Perfect catalog #12, I have been CHARGED for production costs on Picture

Perfect catalog #12, I am charged $100.00 on the first sale of any image

in PP #12. In addition I have not received sales reports for the entire

year and when I do get them they only have a total dollar amount, no info

on how the image was used or to whom it was sold. Plus, I would not say

that the majority of his suppliers/vendors have enjoyed a long term

satisfying relationship rather to the contary.


Copyright © 1999 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

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