Mutoh's Executive Viewpoint
By Digital Output staff
We continue our Industry Profile series with Mutoh America, Inc. The company—with corporate offices in Phoenix, AZ—engineers, manufactures, and distributes wide format digital printers, cutters, and ink. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan; the U.S. subsidiary opened in 1963. Since that time, it’s played a part in evolving computer aided design and manufacturing printing and has taken that technology and adapted its previous successes to large format.
Growth in Numbers
Beginning in 2008, Mutoh saw the down economy as an opportunity to invest and grow market share. The company opened four more offices in Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Los Angeles, CA; and Atlanta, GA. Staff was hired in each location from sales to engineers. Demonstration equipment was included in every office as well. Simultaneously, Mutoh competitively lowered the prices on its printers.
“Fortunately for us—it was a bit scary to actually be spending more money during a worse time—it paid off. We finished out 2010 with growth. Our fiscal 2010, growing our business and our market share,” explains Brian Phipps, GM, Mutoh.
Throughout the downturn, Mutoh advanced its products by investing in research and development (R&D). This expanded its market share in the wide format digital printer market. “We definitely spent the time doing research and came out with technologies that are now new products in 2011 such as a new plant-based MP bio ink,” continues Phipps.
Mutoh showcased its newest printers at the International Sign Expo in April. The ValueJet 1324-54" and 1624-64" replace previous ValueJet models. Both printers carry advanced printheads, improved speeds—300 square feet per hour (sf/h) and 313 sf/h, respectively, and the option of a color measurement tool.
Eco-friendly MP ink was released in February. It consists of 60 percent bio-based materials and contains no hazardous air pollutants or heavy metals. It is for use with the ValueJet 1608HS-Hyrbid printer.
In addition to committing to R&D, Mutoh also retooled its marketing efforts. Redesigning the company Web site to ensure easy customer access to information was one task. As Phipps comments, this is a lot to accomplish in a tough environment.
There are still competitive threats and Phipps is savvy to recognize that as new players come into the market they may take away a piece of Mutoh’s newly earned pie. However, he explains they did the same thing. “We came out with different products to do just that, go after new markets.”
Mutoh is currently studying the textile market in depth. Based on its research, they find it divided into sub categories such as industrial, sportswear, home décor, soft signage, and trade show displays.
“If you are the first one there, or come in after somebody’s developed it and have the best product, it is lucrative,” says Phipps.
Looking ahead, the 60 year old company feels confident in its success during the last three years. Phipps says they accomplished what they set out to do. Now they plan to reap the rewards. “We’re ready to move forward and be successful. It’s all about new beginnings.”
The final installment of this Industry Profile column features Roland DGA Corp.
Oct2011, Digital Output