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Thought Leadership Video Series

Guy Gecht on some of the top achievements EFI has had recently

Published on June 14, 2012

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I'm Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com.  It's my great pleasure to be here with Guy Gecht, who is CEO of EFI.  Lots of initials.  Welcome.

Guy Gecht:  It's easy to spell by the way.  I don't know if you have-

Cary Sherburne:  EFI.

Guy Gecht:  Yeah, very easy to spell.

Cary Sherburne:  Very easy to spell.  There we go.

Guy Gecht:  So Cary, welcome to Connect.  Good to have you back in our 13th Connect.

Cary Sherburne:  Thank you and I'm pleased to be here.  It's been very exciting.

Guy Gecht:  A lot of energy, yes.

Cary Sherburne:  EFI has been doing pretty well.  It's been a tough time for the printing industry and for many industries, but maybe you could just highlight what you see as some of the top achievements you've had over the last couple of years here.

Guy Gecht:  Well we're working very, very hard with our customers to get them to actually transform their business, go after the opportunities in the printing industry, which actually are big and there are many of them.  So there is a lot of highlights outside of here with the areas where printing is declining, but there is not enough attention to the areas where printing is actually going and so that's actually a very satisfactory part of our work because we get to work with a lot of small businesses helping them to grow.  They do a great job.  They're very innovative.  They use our technology.  They make great things out of it.  So this event is the best way for us to meet with them to exchange ideas, to think about what we're going to do next year or the next three or four years, what kind of technology we need to bring to the market in 2016.  So we love those kind of things and a lot of energy here.  You're talking about challenges in the industry.  You're talking to customers around you.  They all say that—a lot of them say that business is better than it was the last few years.

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah, yeah, the energy is really good here.

Guy Gecht:  Yeah.

Cary Sherburne:  You know in your keynote speech you started it out by saying in the long term we're all dead.  Tell us about that a little bit.

Guy Gecht:  I'm getting sick of all those negative things about the industry because I go out and I talk to customers and as I said a lot of them are doing so much better and even if their business is not going because they use tools such as our MIS or Digital Storefront they're a lot more efficient so they can get more profit out of the business.  They can do a much better job for their customers.  So all those negative things I was saying okay look, maybe in 200 years this industry is not going to exist.  In the long term we're all going to be dead anyway, but let's look at the opportunities the next 5, 10, 20, 30 years.  The opportunities are really significant and there are areas that are going.  Just I'll give you from my own experience.  We're looking at the end consumption of View Tech and Jettrion customers, okay.  It's been going for the last nine quarters at least 20% year over year.  Our last quarter it goes 34%, so our customers definitely are doing something great and they get business and they're going with that.  They're buying more printers.  So we know there are areas of print where there is actually a very strong growth.

Cary Sherburne:  And you also talked about moving with the window of opportunity.

Guy Gecht:  Right, yeah, so you know every industry is going through changes and transformation.  When, a, - sometimes we think it's only us.  It's a specific problem for the printing industry.  It's not the case.  If you're looking at the music industry things moved from Walkman, to Disc Man and now to the MP3 player, so there is a window for opportunity that keeps moving and the last thing you want  to do is do nothing because you're going to find yourself offering the equivalent of a Walkman to your customers, right.  We're looking at cell phone, we used to have great companies that dominated this industry like Motorola and Nokia and RIM and now they're struggling.  The window of opportunity is moving and some other companies are flourishing.  So what you want to do is to make the right decision and to move with the window of opportunity to make sure that as the industry changes you are where the action is because if you do nothing you're guaranteed that your window of opportunity is shrinking and before you know it, it will be too late to move.

Cary Sherburne:  And you'll be like the Walkman.

Guy Gecht:  You will be a Walkman.  You will offer your customers a Walkman where they're not longer—that was a great product of 10, 15 years ago.  Nobody wants it anymore.

Cary Sherburne:  That's exactly right and my one last question for you is here at Connect you announced yet another acquisition, a company down in—Metric Systema [ph] in Brazil and are you world domination, going after world domination here?

Guy Gecht:  You know we expand our offerings, but we also would like to expand globally and obviously some of the emerging markets are very exciting for us and Latin America for sure is a fantastic, growing, vibrant area.  Part of EFI offering is what we call the ecosystem.  We bring software.  We bring the Firey.  We help people that need inkjet software, inkjet products together with the software and we didn't have a strong enough base in Latin America to grow it, not just we didn't have enough customers.  We didn't have the right group on the ground and we talked to Metrics.  We really liked the team.  It's a fantastic team, great culture fit to EFI.  We share many customers.  So we said hey, let's join forces.  We'd be one company.  This is going to be a cornerstone of a major expansion in Latin America for EFI and we're already getting a lot of positive feedback from customers about the fact that now we've joined forces with them.  So we're very excited about that.  We continue to expand geographically.  There is a lot of work we need to do for customers, but you know you look at our software business, we have more than 300 engineers working on software dedicated to make sure that what customers need is where we're going to work in the next few years.  So the fact that we're getting bigger, we have more engineers, more customers, more income, just helping other people and remember EFI history.  Good year, bad year, we put about 20% of our revenue in R&D, so somebody spends a dollar with us on maintenance or a new product before we pay utilities, before we pay the lawyers, before we pay the accountants we take 20% out of it and we put in new development for future use.

Cary Sherburne:  And that's great and I think I don't know if it was you or Mark had mentioned that when a company is acquired like that the customers of the company there is shock initially oh my gosh, what's this going to mean for me, but then they quickly realize the deep pockets and the enhanced customer service and support and your investments in R&D and they understand the value of that.

Guy Gecht:  Part of our corporate goal is that when we do objective surveys of each one of our products four out of five customers, at least four out of five customers will say that they will recommend our products to their colleagues and that's a tough buck because customers are very critical and in the last few years we're hitting it on all of our products and you ask, you go around, to everyon in the room.  I think to the most part of course we're not perfect.  We're doing a better and better job for the customers.  So at the end of the day when we align ourselves with customers, when customers know that we are here to make them successful I think that's the best way to make sure that the company will continue to grow and continue to be able to invest in what the industry needs most, which is technology to transform it to capture the window of opportunity so we don't offer Walkman to our customers.  We offer the latest and greatest in technology.

Cary Sherburne:  Well congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your insight.

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