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Mike Ring of Xeikon Provides an update with their recent focus on packaging

Published on July 10, 2012

Cary Sherburne:  Hi.  I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink and I’m here with Mike Ring who is Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for Xeikon.  Welcome.

Mike Ring:  Thank you.

Cary Sherburne:  So Xeikon, you know—well, obviously, you guys brought color digital printing to the market very early on with maybe one other company.  And, you know, you’ve been in the market a long time, been through a lot of ups and downs here and there, and a little under the radar lately.  So can you just spend a few minutes, kind of bringing us up to date on what’s going on with the company?  Who owns you, you know, how does that all work?

Mike Ring:  The name change and all that stuff?

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah.

Mike Ring:  Sure, absolutely.  Well, as you said, we’re one of the first pioneers to bring digital print to reality about almost 20 years ago.  But in the last couple of years we’ve been really focused to take our technology into the label and packaging market.  So you probably haven’t heard a lot about us from a commercial print perspective, but we’ve been very focused in the markets for label and packaging.  In fact, in the last 12 months, we’ve doubled our market share and now command about a 20 percent worldwide share.

Cary Sherburne:  Share in terms of digital label?

Mike Ring:  In label, yes, absolutely.  So we’ve been really kind of—we went back to figuring out who we were and where we fit well, and saw that as an opportunity for us a couple of years ago, and that’s really where we’ve been focusing.  And now, with our new technology, we’re really seeing ourselves being able to play right smack dab in the general commercial print marketplace again.

Cary Sherburne:  And one of the—I don’t want to get into a lot of speeds and feeds—but one of the things that I found interesting about your products, and some companies do this and others don’t, is that typically if you come to market with a new model to the extent possible, and people want to upgrade to the next one, you know, the next one, it’s field upgradeable.

Mike Ring:  Correct.

Cary Sherburne:  That’s pretty interesting, including not only speed but width.

Mike Ring:  Width, right, and that’s common around our label press.  So we found as label converters are just beginning to implement digital, they don’t have the ability to make a large investment but their business plan will put them two or three years from now needing either the wider web width or the faster speed.  So we designed that modularity in mind knowing that, and it’s really from our experience from bringing digital to market, that the customer’s business model will grow and they’re going to need capabilities, so we built that modularity into the machine on day one.  So in the field, we can either go to a wider web or to the faster speed.

Cary Sherburne:  Or both.

Mike Ring:  Or both, yeah.

Cary Sherburne:  That’s great.  And then you’re also making a little sort of debut, or maybe you’ve been doing it, but into the folding carton market.

Mike Ring:  Yeah.  Actually, when we went—so two years ago we went from a 13-inch web to a 20-inch web on the label press, that starts to flirt in the folding carton space.  And so we’ve had a lot of customers pull us into folding carton.  One of the things we learned with label is that there’s a wide variety of substrates and they have a huge impact on the output and the quality, so we are cautiously moving into the folding carton to make sure we understand the full ramifications.

Because the thing we’ve learned most, it’s not just putting toner onto the folding carton or the material; there’s a lot of finishing requirements, you know, folding and gluing.  And so understanding who to partner with there is also important.  So that’s where we’re—we’re clearly in that space, but we’re probably not making as much noise about it as other people are because we want to make sure that we have a turnkey solution for the customer.

Cary Sherburne:  And in terms of finishing, in particular, because there’s the creasing and there’s the laser cut—presumably laser—do you have partners lined up for that?

Mike Ring:  Yeah.  We have a network called the Aura Network, which is, you know, we surround ourselves with suppliers, be it on prepress or post-press, workflow or substrates.  We’ve gone out and aligned ourselves with the leading providers and have announced a folding carton suite.  So we’ve done the leg work for the converter and figured out what is the optimal fit and the solution.

Cary Sherburne:  And what is that on the back end?

Mike Ring:  Well, the folding carton suite is a combination of certain substrates, workflow, our engine, and then we have a strong partnership with a company called GM.  We also work with AB Graphics, Delta, and many others.

Cary Sherburne:  Okay.  Thank you.

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