EFI's CEO Guy Gecht: Successful Printers Growing Faster than the S&P 500
By Cary Sherburne,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: April 19, 2007
By Cary Sherburne, Senior WTT Editor April 19, 2007 WTT: Guy, what is EFI emphasizing at On Demand? GG: We have quite a few new products in the show. And normally, when we have quite a few products in a show, I will not point to anything specific. But at this year's On Demand, we have one of our biggest new products ever. For the first time in the public eye, we'll be unveiling our new Fiery platforms for production print. These new Fiery platforms get the very most out of the engines they drive, turning them into the most effective competitive weapons they can be. This is a major step forward for digital color production in terms of engine ROI, color management, productivity, VDP and digital workflow. We can't think of a better place to unveil them than the On Demand show. WTT: Even though the printing industry is struggling as a whole, it seems to me that there is a vibrant underpinning of companies that "get it" and are doing really well. What advice do you have for the industry at large in terms of their ability to capitalize on emerging trends? GG: You know that our management team likes to spend as much time as possible in the field talking to customers. I can tell you that I see so many successful customers growing their business 10% or more a year, which is a great growth rate in any industry and certainly better than the S&P 500 growth rate. We believe that what makes them successful is their focus on what products and services provide for their clients and sometimes even more importantly, what products and services they don't want to provide. We've learned quite a bit listening to our customers and then focusing our development on the things that help customers go after growth and profit. We're here to help our customers print to win. That's our new theme, a reminder to ourselves to keep our eye on what's most important, and to our customers to help them understand what drives us. WTT: You have put almost all new management in at VUTEk. How is the integration going, both with EFI and with Jetrion, and what prospects do you see for the inkjet business? GG: We are executing well on our strategy to bring together the Fiery, MIS, workflow, color management, and inkjet technologies to help customers with new growth opportunities. We are pleased with where we are with our inkjet business and feel even more strongly that these products represent a great growth opportunity to many of our existing customers. I'm no longer thinking about VUTEk, and even Jetrion, in terms of integration since we feel like one company and "almost forgot" we got there by acquisition. And yes, we hired a few very senior managers for VUTEk that bring the experience of managing similar functions at multi-billion dollar businesses. We hired our new GM, Chet Pribonic, after a 6-month-long search. After interviewing an endless number of great candidates, we fell in love with Chet's leadership ability and impressive background running multi-billion dollar businesses. We see VUTEk moving in the next few years to an "acceleration" mode in terms of innovation and customer satisfaction and we felt we could use a few people that had done that before. WTT: How much workflow uptake are you seeing in the superwide format world? GG: Workflow adoption in this segment of the market is still in early stages, certainly not at the level we are seeing in the commercial print market. But we are seeing very solid interest in our MIS and workflow solutions among our VUTEk customers as they grow their businesses, and we see this as an important value of what we will bring to this market. And we're making significant investments in both MIS and workflow. Those investments are starting to bear fruit now. The new version of Digital StoreFront, which we're introducing at On Demand, includes significant superwide functionality. WTT: Anything interesting emerge from the ISA show in that arena? GG: ISA was a great show for us with a lot of customer interest and traffic in our booth. The show this year seems bigger than prior years in terms of players and attendees. We like our position and reputation in this market, but we certainly see a constant reminder that if we slow our innovation, or fail to support our customers, there are plenty of other players in the market who will challenge us. WTT: Any other acquisitions on the horizon? GG: Maybe....we are continuing to meet and study many acquisition targets. Very few pass the criteria of product and culture fit with EFI. Then they have to pass the test of whether this will benefit our customers and our shareholders. WTT: How is preregistration for Connect shaping up? Do you expect more attendees than last year? Anything specific we should be looking for there? GG: Connect will be in Las Vegas this year in June at the Wynn, which is a really nice venue. So far, we are ahead of where we were two months before the show last year. We know that many will register in the last two months so it is still too early to know if we'll have record attendance this year. The line up of 150+ seminars looks great and I'm sure it will be again a great educational event for our customers. We are still adding to the program based on feedback we get from the market. For example, we saw a good level of interest in data security, so I invited Symantec CEO John Thompson to come and talk to us about this topic. WTT: As you look toward Graph Expo and drupa, do you see any breakthrough technologies on the horizon? GG: Nothing that will be a game changing event, but steady improvements mainly in digital color, inkjet, MIS and workflow. Digitization is the big trend, and that means integration will be increasingly the key for higher value. Digital color and integration with our partners' solutions and within our solutions is where we have put our investments. WTT: Anything else you would like to add? GG: As you know, Cary, we are conducting this interview just before On Demand while I am in China visiting a large digital printing tradeshow. The show was well attended by people from all over Asia. Unfortunately one of partners had their Fiery stolen from their booth during the show! People were saying that is an indication of the good competitive analysis that they had done… but I hope it is an indication for the growing demand for digital printing in this region.