Interview: EFI's Frank Mallozzi in conversation with Output pt 2
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By James Matthews-Paul
8 May 2012
YouTube star Frank Mallozzi says EFI is 'putting more fun into the space' of print
Click here for part one.
EFI has spent its way through the financial crisis, in marketing terms, where other companies haven't. What was the strategy behind that?
EFI was faced with the same challenges as some of our customers in the print industry: we were more tied to one business model, one technology, and now we are conveying that there are growth opportunities in print. We're an example of that movement. We took a step back, we thought about where we needed to be, how to get ahead of that curve, and we've been positioned that way since the first inception of the Fiery. Then we shifted into workflow, and then MIS, then [the VUTEk space], and now packaging, and pulling all this together. Our partners are encouraged, the industry sees that a leader like EFI is moving in that direction, that these are competitive requirements in order to be successful – whereas in the past they were 'nice-to-haves'.
You're planning a massive stand for Ipex, upping your space by 600sq m. Will you be pulling a Beny Landa on us?
Last time we had pretty significant return on investment, and being in London, looking at the venue, we have a bigger story to tell than 2010 and want a larger presence. Seeing what we've done at drupa, what we did at EFI Connect, we're going in a lot deeper with our workflow, seminars, training, and we want to take that same approach right to Ipex.
What is EFI doing to make print sexy to people outside our industry?
We're putting more fun into the space. The industry has been conservative because of the changes within it, the move from analogue to digital, the fear. But because we're in the growth side of the business there are great opportunities. We want [people] to know that we're in a great industry which has a convergence of technology. Instead of being on your smartphone or on your desktop we have another medium, and that medium is paper, and it's going to be alive and well. It's about how we present and position it. Packaging is never going to go away, and iPads aren't going to take the place of the fact that we can jet onto and customise ceramic tiles, stone and wallpaper. We need to package it in a way that's less intimidating.
A lot of people on the show floor are identifying display graphics as a space to move into, where there are many existing customers already. Are we reaching a point of saturation?
You will approach that point, of course, but every manufacturer is thinking of how to differentiate the customer, identifying real life applications. Take for example Life Art – a biodegradable coffin, but at the end of the day it's a photobook application in a grander form. It's about giving our customers options, making them cost effective and more profitable, and helping them move into areas they couldn't compete in before. We hear often that many of our customers are out there because of the market being saturated, that they couldn't participate, so how do we help them get closer? I think it's about differentiation and continuing to build technology that moves you out. As a technology provider you have to look at that window of opportunity, and that's going to drive applications, and that's where the customer will benefit.
Your career as a rap artist is burgeoning. Will you be diversifying into that space?
I don't think so! You know, it was a lot of fun [making the video]. We're talking about what version two, next year, will look like! That was about sharing with our employees – we all work really hard, but we're human as executives. We want to show a funny and casual side, and it makes our employees feel comfortable. That's the take-away that we got in our kick-off meeting, and from drupa; my employees walked onto the stand and feel really proud to be a part of what we have to offer. If you feel like that in your working environment and if you love the people you work for and with, you're going to give the customer your all, with the best possible support, and it enables us to win. It's philosophical, but it works.
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