In August, we ran our annual State of the Industry report. Market leaders from all segments of the industry shared their thoughts on the overall business climate in the last 12 to 18 months. This seven-part series includes additional insight from many of these participants, such as EFI.
Foster City, CA-based EFI delivers solutions that offer increased performance, cost savings, and productivity. The company’s portfolio includes Fiery digital print controllers and solutions, VUTEk superwide digital inkjet printers, Rastek UV wide format inkjet printers, Jetrion industrial inkjet printing systems, ink, print production workflow and management information software, and corporate printing solutions.
Paths of Recovery
Print volumes rose at the end of 2010 and into the beginning of this year, but the road to recovery isn’t clear yet. Financing is still a hurdle many companies look to overcome. “Access to capital was probably our bigger issue even more than economic slowdown. The fact that people weren’t financing equipment last year at their usual pace,” explains Scott Schinlever, SVP/GM, VUTEk/Rastek, EFI.
Debt is a concern. As it is fixed, will high interest rates be the norm? The entire sales model will change—which could affect new printer purchases. Quarter one experienced uncertainty, with a slow rise in spending, according to Schinlever. Sales are up thanks to print shop consolidation.
“As print shops get larger, they look at digital. They aren’t starting with one solution or printer. They look at their business and start with two or three devices and figure out how to leverage them,” he explains.
EFI is positioned to provide print providers with a range of options, especially with recent introductions into the market. The EFI VUTEk GS3250LX UV LED printer was introduced in April. The company took the technology from its UV LED Jetrion label printer and translated it to superwide. Schinlever says there is no loss in speed and it is truly a production printer.
“It was a magical moment for us to go after the superwide segment given the challenges some have with heat generated from regular curing when printed on these substrates. Also LED eliminates issues related to degradation of bulb performance over its life,” he adds.
The Rastek H652 hybrid, launched this year, is a UV device providing users with entry-level productivity and quality at a lower price point and offers a stepping stone to a larger VUTEk printer.
Providing a portfolio of small to grand products is ideal, but to sweeten the pot EFI also controls a breadth of workflow solutions that support all of its printers. Customers learn one workflow and stay with it. This integration means control from job submission, print management, file creation, printing, and fulfillment.
As the industry continues to change with the consolidation of companies, Schinlever believes that workflow will become a big part of the sales model. “What’s happening in the industry is that people are moving from being printers to short-run manufacturers. It’s that idea of being lean at every step of the process,” he says.
Offering printers and the workflow to drive the process presents EFI as a partner to its customers. Supporting them with a solution, as opposed to a box, is the company’s mantra.
Good technology broadens markets, and keeps customers coming back for more. “It’s choppy out there in terms of the economy, but when I think about how EFI is positioned, the strength of our company, and the solutions we’re bringing; I think the industry as a whole is in the position of a positive growth trajectory,” says Schinlever.
The next installment of this Industry Profile column features Durst Image Technology US LLC.