Marlton, N.J. – The MBO Group (Oppenweiler, Germany) increased its worldwide sales by 12 percent in the first six months of 2017, in comparison with the same period last year. The company credits the increase to the efforts of its newly appointed management team, as well as to a newly revised marketing strategy implemented earlier this year.
Thomas Heininger, CEO, and Christian Gohlke, CFO, were appointed in March to develop and oversee a program of strategic change designed to secure the folding machine manufacturer’s business and render it sustainable for the future. This effort has involved taking a critical look at several areas of the business, resulting in a strategy that is newly focused on direct sales, increasing sales, streamlining MBO’s product range to fit the needs of its target markets, and substantially improving delivery times. Both Heininger and Gohlke come to the MBO Group from the Munich Holding Company Solvesta AG. Until 2016, Heininger was a partner at Kaster & Callwey Media GmbH, a printing company in Forstinning, Germany.
According to an interview published recently in “Deutsche Drucker” magazine, Heininger and Gohlke identified several key business areas they believe deserve renewed attention:
Sales. Although MBO’s core competency is the development and manufacture of innovative postpress machinery, the need for increased sales activities supported by intensive customer service cannot be overlooked. In the U.S., MBO America has reorganized and expanded its direct sales force to provide the responsive service and reliable support its customers have come to expect. In Europe, MBO has been phasing out direct sales and embracing partnerships with specialized commercial providers that “have a stronger presence with customers and are part of a much larger network, but without proactively pursuing sales ourselves,” Gohlke explained. MBO will continue to support its partners in this effort with its substantial technical and project management expertise.
Product Line-up. Emphasizing MBO’s “incredibly diverse product line-up,” Gohlke nevertheless insisted that the time had come to simplify it, “both for [MBO] and for [our] clients.” While that does not necessarily mean taking products off the market, he said, it does means establishing a “manageable” number of product lines, guided by an evaluation of each product’s relevance to the market. “There has to be a developmental focus on areas that are trailing behind and need to catch up, and [on those] for which there is a higher demand…. The important thing,” Gohlke said, “is to [stay] in tune with customers’ needs.”
Production. An important benefit of streamlining the product portfolio is to ensure a leaner production process that reduces both the need for spare parts and spare part storage. Control modules and similar elements would be uniform, enabling faster, more efficient production and shorter delivery times.
Digital Printing. Rising demand for finishing solutions will have to be satisfied because “even digitally printed paper eventually requires cutting, folding, binding and stapling,” Heininger said. However, he also noted that the relevant question will be, “how such a solution would look in practice,” such as whether a user would require various inline connections, for example. Traditional transactional printing via inkjet required minimal finishing; however, today’s high-quality digital inkjet printing requires diverse finishing solutions: die cutting, gluing, folding, etc.
“The digital market is is characterized by ever-changing application demands,” said MBO America’s Director of Sales Rich Freeley, who brings 20-plus years of digital expertise to his role at MBO, “This is where the modular finishing technology developed by MBO experts offers users the ability to deploy existing finishing assets in conjunction with newer, high-speed, digital finishing lines to increase application flexibility.” The aim, said Freeley, is to provide printers with adaptive, scalable finishing systems that can expand or adapt as job requirements change – the key to staying ahead of the event-based, time-sensitive marketing strategies embraced by today’s print-buying organizations.