Commentary & Analysis
Free Special: Xeikon Management Interview: Customer Focused And Profitable
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: April 15, 2003
WhatTheyThink.com hooked up with top Xeikon America and Xeikon International executives at ON DEMAND to get an update on their company, and their priorities. In my meeting, they were very open about future priorities, news reports, the Punch acquisition and the hubbub during the last six months. My impression is that Xeikon management knows what they are doing— I think you can count on them to be profitable and continue to be a resource for new business and applications for their users, for years to come.
WTT: There is a certain amount of “talk” about the well being of Belgium based Xeikon, but rumors of Xeikon’s demise seem unfounded. Are these just rumors?
Xeikon: Peter van Es, VP Marketing, Sales and Customer Services for Xeikon International— Xeikon came out of bankruptcy last March, having been taken over by Punch. We have exercised our first priority to get the company profitable and achieve a minimum of “break-even”. The product line has also been narrowed by eliminating the cut sheet and black & white presses. The American operation never went bankrupt, only the Belgium operation faced bankruptcy. Except for uncertainty at the time, no customers were negatively affected nor went down or were stranded.
WTT: Xeikon has always been highly regarded for its R&D, substrate certification and product enhancements. Will this capability be maintained?
Xeikon: Peter van Es, VP Marketing, Sales and Customer Services for Xeikon International— Although the staff reduction in the Belgian facility has gone from 450 to 200 people, there are still 80 people in R&D. This allows us to continue our development and product enhancements. Since this is our own R&D facility, the projects can be scheduled according to our own timetable. We wanted to further reassure our customers about our commitment to them and have accelerated toner, software and engine enhancements to assist customer satisfaction and achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
WTT: Where are spare parts stockpiled, and how is service handled in the US?
Xeikon: Peter van Es, VP Marketing, Sales and Customer Services for Xeikon International— Forty percent of Xeikon America customers perform their own service. Spares are stockpiled at the Illinois facility, with regional technicians keeping the popular spares on hand, locally. Xeikon America handles spares and service for all Xerox and Agfa versions of the
Xeikon engine, while IBM services the IBM branded Xeikon engines.
Xeikon: Glenn Toole, Business Area Manager, North America for Xeikon International— IBM is very active with their Xeikon-based programs and is actively selling to the corporate market.
WTT: How would you describe the attendees coming to your booth: are they kicking tires, collecting information, or are you seeing some serious decision makers who are actively looking for machines/solutions?
Xeikon: Glenn Toole, Business Area Manager, North America for Xeikon International— Today’s customers are very astute and have a business plan in place before buying a digital engine. Several Xeikon customers have 3 to 5 machines and are using them to rated capacities. The market is there now and customers are making money with Xeikon products.
Xeikon: Peter van Es, VP Marketing, Sales and Customer Services for Xeikon International— Customers know very well what they want before they come to the booth. They have done their homework and are asking very specific information.
WTT: What kinds of applications are customers and prospects interested in?
Xeikon: Glenn Toole, Business Area Manager, North America for Xeikon International—There are tons of applications from labels to wallpaper where the Xeikon products are in use, not to mention variable data applications. Thanks to PPML and other standards, variable data printing is expected to continue to proliferate— we believe in embracing any open standards which will assist our customers.
WTT: In these changing times, printers are being told to add non-print related services to their menus and re-engineer their business processes. Does Xeikon provide consulting services for your prospects and customers?
Xeikon: Ivan Verheye, President & CEO of Xeikon America—Xeikon functions as a consultant to both prospects and customers, extensively working with them to assist in the integration of all elements and systems, and to sort out difficulties— especially in the areas of substrates and finishing. We do studies and make available new information to our customers to allow them to implement efficient, cost-effective solutions.
WTT: Previous programs like the Personalizer-X seeding program done a few years ago by Agfa with creatives was very good, but there were few companies with data bases which could execute one-to-one campaigns, at that time. Has this situation changed?
Xeikon: Glenn Toole, Business Area Manager, North America for Xeikon International—Today, companies have data bases needed for one-to-one marketing campaigns and have re-engineered their business processes and implemented CRM initiatives to take advantage of high quality on demand color output. Companies like www.expresscopy.com and www.mimeo.com, are doing very well because they are web enabled— they ship millions of personalized real estate postcards every month.
WTT: Are current sales up or down, and what are your short term objectives?
Xeikon: Peter van Es, VP Marketing, Sales and Customer Services for Xeikon International— Now, we are cash flow positive with 25 new systems sold world-wide. The second part of Xeikon’s rebuilding strategy is to make sure customers are happy.
Xeikon: Ivan Verheye, President & CEO of Xeikon America— Customers pay the bills, so we do everything possible to keep them happy.
WTT: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time and your candid answers.
For more information, please visit www.xeikon.com