Brian Rothschild, my friend and fellow print enthusiast, could easily be described as inquisitive. In this case, I was able to help put that trait to use for the greater good with the assistance of Jenna Kempie! The result is an interesting Q&A with Frank Tueckmantel from EFI, and definitely touches upon areas beyond my area of knowledge… which is awesomely cool! Thanks again to Brian, Jenna and Frank! Wanna write a blog for PMC? Get in touch! 

Brian_Rothschild_printmediacentr

Good Day PMC Readers!

I recently was offered the opportunity to have a Q & A session with Frank Tueckmantel, Vice President Corporate Marketing, EFI and took full advantage. With 8 Must See ‘Ems and new product announcements, or, acquisitions seemingly everyday. I thought it would be nice to hear it directly from someone who can speak as to the direction(s) EFI has planned.

Q: Hi Frank, how long have you been working at EFI? What brought you to EFI?

A: I joined EFI 14 years ago and, at the time, the company mostly consisted of our EFI Fiery digital front end business. I had worked in Minolta’s digital color printing technology operation and could see that EFI was ahead of the curve in terms of automating and enhancing digital print operations, so for me it was a chance to join a company that was really the leader in its field when it comes to innovation. Once I came here, I was pleased to find that the company is dynamic in terms of its strategy. EFI strives to not only be a company of innovative products, but a company of innovative people. Over the course of my 14 years here, that drive has moved us far beyond DFEs, to the point where EFI is also a leader in inkjet printing, as well as the biggest competitor by far in printing MIS and ERP workflow innovation.

Q: Why did EFI win 8 Must See ’Em awards at Print 13, out of the 8, which one(s) or features most impress you? Why?

A: As for the number of awards we won, I think that really comes as a result of listening to our customers, to the market and to indsutry experts when developing new products. It is not about creating something new because we can, it is about offering something we know will have real value to customers, something that truly makes their work faster, easier, less expensive or more profitable.

I think that approach is telling if you look at the scope of products that won Must See ’Ems awards. Some awards were for new hardware platforms, like our EFI VUTEk HS100 Pro inkjet press, but others were for incremental achivements. For example, one of the Must See ’Ems we received was for an improvement to a business intelligence module that is part of our larger, EFI Radius enterprise resource planning software for packaging. It is important to be detail-oriented and create meaningful improvement for customers in everything you do, whether it is a big hardware launch or a versioned software module upgrade – just as long as the details we are focused on are the ones that really solve our customers’ problems.

If I had to pick favorites among the entries, I would say our best entries were the two that not only won Must See ’Ems awards, but were named Best of Category in the competition. Our new thermoforming system, the EFI VUTEk GS Pro-TF, earned a best of category award because it has the potential to create an entirely new market for digital printing in thermoformed product decoration. Our other best of category winner, our integrated inkjet production workflow, is a strong testament to the engineering excellence we have throughout EFI. It is a workflow that seamlessly connects best-of-breed technologies from EFI’s three businesses – Productivity Software, Fiery and Inkjet – in a way that allows customers to accept a job through web-to-print and quickly turn it into a printed and invoiced large-format print job.

Q: EFI recently acquired Metrix. There are lots of solution providers, why Metrix?

A: While it is true that there are a lot of small software companies in the printing industry, we make a point of being very selective in the companies we acquire. For every acquisition deal we complete, there are many others that we look at and walk away from for one reason or another.

Metrix offered a unique and innovative impositioning technology, which some of our customers have integrated into their EFI Pace MIS workflows. Now, not only are we continung to invest in and develop the Metrix offering, over time, we will be able to fully integrate Metrix’s technology as a modular offering to our MIS and ERP products.

We have also had another recent acquisition, the purchase of the German company Lector Computersysteme in November. That was a very strategic acquisition for the MIS market in Europe. Lector had a German-language MIS product and, as you know, Germany is one of the world’s largest printing markets.

Q: Alongside a raft of new launches, EFI showed a gallery of inkjet printed ceramic tiles on its Print 13 booth – all of them printed using technology from your acquisition of Cretaprint. I’ve always known it was a matter of time before W2P gave us the ability to design, print and install custom tile without actually going to the tile store. When and why did EFI just recognize this, and, why Creataprint?

A: Custom tile ordered online is possible, but before the industry reaches that point, we know there will be some intermediate steps where the ceramics decoration market changes. Up until now, that market has always operated using a business model based on analog methods.

The present state of the ceramics and tile decoration market is slightly different than the rest of what we see in the graphic arts industry. For example, much of the tile work today, even for very colorful tiles, is done using spot colors instead of process color. So digital printing opens up more design and color opportunities in addition to making customized and short-run work easier.

Earlier this year, we introduced our first Fiery product for ceramics decoration. Having that level of expertise in front-end development and workflow shows some of what we see in the expansion opportunity for Cretaprint, which has an exceptionally strong inkjet imaging platform with products like the EFI Cretaprint C3.

We are already seeing digital create new ways of thinking about ceramics, with more marketers looking to create advertisements printed on tiles in a way that expands this market beyond traditional building and home décor applications.

Q: EFI’s acquisitions seem like an awful lot to digest…What does all this mean for EFI and what can we expect to see soon, as well as long term?

A: In the short term, you will continue to see a balanced approach to growth, where EFI serves more people with new products and innovations, in addition to the customer growth we obtain through acquisitions.

There will always be a strong emphasis on customer service behind all our efforts; we like to keep current customers happy as well as make sure those who become EFI customers through an acquisition are excited to stay with us. That is a long-term strategy for EFI. Technology development can be a complex business and we will always be committed as a company to deliver the service that makes complex offerings simplier for our customers to use.

Beyond that, EFI is addressing many of the important trends that PrintMediaCentr readers are witnessing. We are creating new opportunities for printing companies to use the cloud and we are raising the bar when it comes to the ways digital printing meets important standards for workflow connectivity and image quality. We are also leading a rapid transition in inkjet from solvent to UV, but even beyond that to LED UV, which is becoming one of the most important imaging platforms for digital printing in the display graphics and packaging spaces.

Brian is a digital prepress and print specialist with over 20 years of experience. Certified by Apple and Adobe he has been studying and reporting on technological advancements from 1987 till present and can be reached at graphicfxonline.wix.com or email: graphicfxonline@gmail.com

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