Minn. firm buys Segall-Majestic

January 11, 1995|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Sun Staff Writer

Segall-Majestic Inc., the Baltimore company that has taken nearly every Marylander's high school picture for the last two generations, has been sold to the nation's biggest school photographer, Lifetouch National School Studios of Minneapolis.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Ted Koenecke, vice president of Lifetouch, said yesterday that Segall-Majestic will be run as a division under the name Segall-Majestic by Lifetouch.

John and Jeffrey Segall, grandsons of the founders of Segall-Majestic, will run the division, Mr. Koenecke said.

The Segalls could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In a printed statement announcing the purchase, Lifetouch said "the majority of Segall-Majestic employees will be retained." But Mr. Koenecke said yesterday that he did not know when -- or if -- Lifetouch would lay off any Baltimore workers.

Both companies are seasonal, hiring dozens of photographers each fall for schoolchildren's photographs and each spring to take high school seniors' pictures.

Lifetouch has about 3,000 employees, and Segall-Majestic has about 70 employees and a laboratory in Southwest Baltimore, Mr. Koenecke said.

In a few months, Lifetouch plans to hire at least 3,000 photographers and helpers to take pictures in schools around the country, he said. Lifetouch takes about a third of all the official school pictures in the nation, he said.

Previously, Segall-Majestic had said it expands to about 200 employees to serve schools around the mid-Atlantic region. Segall-Majestic serves more high schools in the mid-Atlantic than any other studio, Mr. Koenecke said.

Segall-Majestic was started by Louis Segall, who had operated a photography studio in Hamburg, Germany, before emigrating to Baltimore and starting a studio here in 1938. Mr. Segall said later that he added the word "majestic" to his company's name because it sounded good.

Louis' son Karl changed the company's direction in the late 1950s after meeting a high school yearbook representative who persuaded him to start taking pictures of schoolchildren.

The company's growing specialty created controversy, however, as smaller firms bridled at its near-monopolistic hold on students' pictures. In 1985, for example, a competing photographer sued the Baltimore City school system over Segall-Majestic's contracts.

Norfleet P. Barnes charged that because Segall-Majestic offered schools money and photographic services in return for exclusive shooting rights, smaller companies that couldn't afford to front the payments were unfairly blocked from competing. Mr. Barnes' suit was eventually dismissed.

Karl's son John Segall took over as president of the family company in 1978, and explored some other ventures, including a pet photography operation, and a glamour photography company called Elegant Images. Until last week, John Segall was chief executive officer of the company, and his brother Jeffrey was president.

Mr. Koenecke said he wasn't aware of Segall-Majestic's pet photography business, but said Lifetouch had bought two Elegant Images stores from Segall-Majestic.

Elegant Images, started by the Segall brothers in 1989, offers customers the services of makeup artists and hair stylists and a Hollywood-like photo session.

Although the Segalls initially planned to franchise their glamour photography shop idea, and once had more than a dozen stores, the company appears to no longer be pursuing expansion. Dale Cantone, a state assistant attorney general, said yesterday that the company has let its franchise registration lapse.

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