Q&A with Frazer Chesterman, https://www.industrialprintblog.com
Responses from Reinhild Westmeyer, Marketing Director, EFI
Give me a short introduction to EFI? And what you do?
EFI is leading the transformation from analog to digital imaging with scalable, digital, award-winning products. We are based in Silicon Valley, but we have offices worldwide. I work in our office in Ratingen, Germany, near Düsseldorf. Our company develops breakthrough technologies for the manufacturing of signage, packaging, textiles, ceramic tiles, and personalized documents, with a wide range of printers, inks, digital front ends, and a comprehensive business and production workflow suite that transforms and streamlines the entire production process to increase our customers’ competitiveness and productivity.
Our company is generally organized in three categories: EFI Fiery® servers and solutions, Inkjet (such as our wide- and superwide-format printers, corrugated press, and textile printers) and our productivity software. I am the corporate marketing director for EFI in EMEA, working across all three of those businesses.
Where did your career start? Tell us a little about those beginnings.
After my education – a professional training as a translator and a degree in International Business – I worked in various industries in different locations before I decided to look for a more long-term assignment. An agency offered me an interview with a start-up company that was heavily involved with printing, which was looking for an office-based person in Ratingen supporting their sales and marketing efforts. This company was EFI. I joined EFI in 1996, and from the start, it encompassed a dynamic, inspirational and international team of people, which is still the case today. Since I joined, the company has more than tripled their revenue and extended their business from a Fiery for cutsheet only business to a business encompassing three business units. Over time I filled various roles in sales and marketing.
Tell me more about the development of EFI products and what is unique about them at the moment?
When you sell digital printing equipment, a big part of the job is talking to your customers about the advantages and the quality your printers provide. But then you cannot forget that your customer’s customer – the print buyer – might not care about “digital.” They just want the job printed, they want it on time, the same quality they are used to with analog, and they want it at a good price even when, as is often the case, the quantities they are buying are smaller than before.
So, one of the things that has really guided EFI in building successful solutions is the focus on innovations that can address that print buyer mindset, and it is why I think it is so important to have Fiery and our Productivity Suites in our complete portfolio. So, where a digital print device might provide excellent quality, maybe there’s also the problem you need to address with having jobs RIP fast enough, which we solve with the Fiery DFE, or maybe the issue that jobs take too long to go from the design and approval stage, so there is an integration between our Digital StoreFront product into Pace in our Midmarket Print Suite that reduces the prep time on a job from one or two days to a couple of hours.
Having leading-edge software and DFE capabilities along with our printers means our customers can confidently move forward and grow with digital. We are constantly improving our offerings so even when a customer is not in the market for a new printer, we are still able to develop and implement improvements to the overall process that can improve their profitability.
What new products are you working on?
In the industrial space, the Nozomi press, a single-pass, ultra-high-speed LED inkjet corrugated packaging press, has been a remarkable example of how new technology can accelerate the analog to digital transformation. The 71-inch-wide Nozomi press prints in six colors plus white and can print up to 246 linear feet per minute. It is also an excellent example of what the company can accomplish with its combined expertise, as the Nozomi platform was created with the help of technical teams across the world from each of our businesses.
We have had a significant amount of activity in the industrial textile market for apparel and décor printing. We have launched four EFI Reggiani printers in the past year, including a new, top-of-the-line printer called the EFI Reggiani COLORS that can print up to 12 inks at a time in nearly any type of configuration. We have also launched new Fiery DesignPro tools for industrial textile printing. Plus, we have shown a new pigment ink that can be used with just about any textile type for direct-to-textile printing and without steaming or washing.
Our most recent new product launch in the industrial space is our new, 5th generation technology for the EFI Cretaprint ceramic tile decoration printers. The printers include new e-D5 printheads that have a redesigned nozzle geometry that can print faster while also offering improved consistency. This marks a significant update in our abilities in the tile market, an area where EFI is already a leader in digital.
What is the EFI business mantra?
We at EFI are relentlessly focused on just one thing: the growth and success of our customers’ business.
The business is unique and successful, how do you believe the leadership has created a sense of innovation in the business?
We are constantly looking to improve our offerings. While we like to stay ahead in terms of anticipating what customers will need next, it really can only happen when you have close, strong relationships with your customers to guide what you want to do in R&D. Our goal is to help customers develop and implement enhancements to the overall process so that they can increase their profitability.
Are Guy (Gecht) and other senior management still very hands on?
Yes – they are. Guy and the other Senior Leadership Team members are travelling a lot to meet with customers, prospects and partners to talk about their business situation, their opportunities and challenges as well as their future expectations. This not only helps EFI strategically but also all of the staff as our Senior Leadership Team continues to have further insights into the businesses globally that we support with our solutions.
How do you see Digital Print in the future?
Digital printing is definitely on the rise. If you look at some of the growth areas of the market, like corrugated and textile, we are just in the beginning stages and have a lot more momentum in the market to come. Digital print reached where it is today because of a number of factors. One is the number of continuous innovations happening with inkjet, where machines have not only become faster but offer higher quality and can print on just about any media.
EFI is a company that wants to ensure leadership in growth markets in terms of product offerings and technological advancements. On the corrugated side of things, although the Nozomi press is a rather recent EFI product, EFI has had an eye on the corrugated market for a while: a number of EFI VUTEk® printers are able to print for the packaging market, the Radius Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software facilitates the production of folding cartons, flexible packaging, plastic extrusion and other printer materials, we have acquired a few packaging workflow software developers such as CTI and Escada systems, further expanding EFI’s productivity software suite for the corrugated market.
You are pushing into new sectors such as packaging and décor – WHY?
Packaging is an obvious market to enter, as it is an area of printing that cannot be replaced with digital alternatives. And while our move into corrugated with the Nozomi is relatively recent, EFI has long been a top provider in packaging workflows with our Radius ERP product. And, as with any market, we are selective about where we think we can provide the most value.
Décor is an exciting market to be in as it addresses continuing, growing demand for customization in design. Digital in that way creates new opportunities that just were not feasible in the past. It is also where our printer portfolio can create a number on unique opportunities for customers. We have a wide variety of solutions, and we have exhibited a number of different trade shows where our printers are providing important innovations in flooring, home textiles and wood furniture.
What success have you had with developing new business in more industrial sectors?
In industrial textile, we have been able to extend the scope of what was already a successful digital industrial printing business with Reggiani, which we acquired in 2015. In addition to launching new printers, we have established a complete ecosystem around digital industrial textile printing including Optitex, acquired in 2016, for 2D and 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) software, Fiery products and EFI Reggiani printers and the combination of those offerings really creates a competitive advantage for our customers. It is a growing market and the technology available today is tremendously important in Europe for the development of streamlined, more-efficient apparel supply chain, both for fast fashion brands and mainstream apparel companies.
In corrugated packaging, our customers are having great success with the Nozomi press. We sold 9 printers through the first quarter of this year and the momentum is accelerating. The first UK installation is taking place as we speak at The Delta Group in London. The press is transforming how our customers approach corrugated packaging supply chains, and they in turn can offer their customers much more flexibility and efficiency in terms of design variation and turnaround time for high-quality, shelf-ready packaging and other products.
Internally within EFI, the company has devoted additional resources worldwide to selling and developing the corrugated market, but it is a sector where we also have a presence beyond that is not just based on digital printing and the Nozomi. A number of corrugated packaging companies use our workflow software products.
We have the goal to lead the worldwide transformation from analog to digital imaging. To do that, we develop breakthrough technologies for manufacturing of signage, packaging, textiles, ceramic tiles, and personalized documents, with a wide range of printers, inks, DFEs, and a comprehensive business and production workflow suite that transforms and streamlines the entire production process.