Learn about the print possibilities with wide format presses from Agfa Graphics. Step up your print service game… Peacock Long and Prosper!
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We’re here talking to Matt [Meaney 00:00:44], at the AGFA Technology Center, in Branchburg, New Jersey, and we’ve just talked a lot about some of the really cool applications that can be created with your technology, and we were talking to the print customers, and the designers. Now, let’s turn focus to the printers, so they know what they need to know, in order to make this investment.
I think one of the most important things to know about AGFA is that we’ve been in the imaging business for over 150 years. So it’s in our blood, it’s in our DNA. We’ve had customers from our commercial segment, that have been with us for many, many years, and we’ve grown relationships for many years.
As we’ve moved into the wide format segment, they’ve also moved along with us, and grown and developed with us. So we’re very proud of that.
People mostly know you from plates, right? You started off in plates.
They do. They really do.
A lot of times, they’ll come up to us at a show and say, “Wow, I didn’t know you were in this whole market.”
So it’s important for people to know. It’s not something we just came up with, because it was the thing to do. We saw that the industry was changing, and we developed solutions for that changing industry.
A lot of our customers are brand new to us, but many of our customers have grown with us, from the commercial side of things, as well, and we’ve really developed the portfolio products from the entry level, all the way up to high production level system, so we do have a very wide portfolio of solutions.
Let’s talk about substrates. Whenever you talk about wide format, you have to talk about substrates, and those can be the differentiator in getting you to a million vertical markets, just by changing the material that you’re printing on.
So how flexible is your technology?
It’s extremely flexible. It’s something we pride ourselves on. We actually manufacture our own ink, so a major component of the printing process is the actual printing process itself. So, again, we’ve been a chemistry company for many, many years, and we do develop our own inks. It’s something we’re always improving on, making sure we have good quality whites.
Adhesion is a big thing in the wide format industry, and we pride ourselves in our quality inks. So, not only do we develop our own inks, we develop our own software to drive the printers that we offer. Of course, we offer the printers themselves, but we also have our [Dortex 00:03:03] brand of substrates, so we actually provide our customers with substrates, as well.
We are almost a one stop shop, if you will. So we, again, providing all those things as a whole. They come to us for solutions. We’re an educator. We help people understand. We try and understand what the needs are.
So, someone comes in to our Demo Center, or one of our trade shows, not everyone has the same demands, or requirements, so we really spent a lot of time with them, and help understand, or try and understand, what their needs are. What is their business> Because, again, we have a wide portfolio of products.
Again, from small startup shops, to established high production shops. We have customers that have upwards of nine, 10, 11 of our machines in our shop. So I think that speaks a lot for AGFA, and the solutions we provide.
The subject of wide format, in its broadest sense, is very topical, in what is still being called the commercial print space.
A printer who has not, doesn’t traditionally have any wide format equipment, or even understand the wide format business … I mean, honestly, how it’s priced. A lot of printers don’t realize that.
Why is there such an opportunity for those printers, and how is AGFA working with them, to understand them, and help them develop that opportunity?
Yeah, we spend a lot of time with people just like that. They’re in the commercial segment, they’ve had a business for many, many years, and we all know that the industry’s changed over time, and so, has their business changed?
A lot of them maybe started outsourcing that type of work. So they’re outsourcing it, and they suddenly realize, they’re now outsourcing, more than they’re insourcing. So we do spend a lot of time with people like that. They come in here, and they want to understand, “I know I’m outsourcing to someone that’s using an AGFA product.”
So those are the people we love: “Come on in, and we’ll explain that whole thing behind the scenes, that you’re outsourcing to.” I love to spend time with people like that, because they suddenly realize, “Wow. Look how that works,” and they understand that, “Wow, look how diverse this equipment is. Look what I can do with it, and then, start to bring some of that work back into my shop.”
When you say, “Come on in,” what do you mean by that?
Here into the Demo Center, here into the AGFA family, at the trade shows, just get involved with them. We spend a lot of time. It’s not a decision you make quickly, so, it’s, you develop a relationship. So it’s really just getting to know them, getting to understand their needs. It’s a process, and we spend a lot of time helping, trying to understand, what their needs are, offering solutions, show them what can be done with these pieces of equipment, and really develop the right fit for them.
Now, you hae some awesome technology here. How is AGFA differentiating in support, before, during and after a purchase?
Yes, [Deborah 00:05:44], it’s something we really pride ourselves in. Customers come to us for solutions. It’s a process to finally find that right solution, and the last thing you want to do is let them down. You don’t want to give them something that we don’t support. We stand behind our products. We offer good products. We also offer national support, so, from a service perspective, a hardwares perspective, we have national service at the local level.
We have service personnel throughout the country. We strive for that 24-hour uptime. We know having a machine up and running all the time is important for our customers. Furthermore, beyond our hardware service technicians that we have throughout the country, we also have a color specialist, application specialist. They are part of that initial installation, so our service team will install the product, and then, we have a color specialist team that actually comes in.
They’re application specialists, they know the software. They teach the operators how to maintain and use the equipment. That’s a service that we provide, not only during initial setup, it’s something, it’s a relationship we maintain, throughout the life of that product.
You know, we’re talking about printers who might be entering the wide format market, and these machines produce a variety of applications. How are you working with printers to know what the best substrates are, what the best ink options are, so that they can turn around and help their, educate their customers?
That’s important to know. I think that’s a very good point to make, especially for people that are just getting into this market. It’s not about just printing on a paper. A big portion of the whole industry is substrates, and the different applications, so that can be a big learning process. It was for me when I started out in this industry.
It’s just understanding, all the different materials, and what can be done with them, what their limitations are, what their potential is. We actually have applications media specialists that provide that service for our customers. So they may get a new job in, they don’t know how to produce it, or what the right material is, we have people that will work with them directly, help them find those substrates, and get the job done.
Is that also troubleshooting? Like, let’s say they picked a substrate, and it’s not working out the way that they thought?
Oh, absolutely, it’s not just about, “Here’s the right substrate, and go ahead and print the job.” It’s, they help them to produce the job correctly. They understand the products. They know what the requirements are, to have a successful print on it, so they fully understand our entire product line.
Okay, Matt, tell us why wide format is where it’s at.
I think it’s just such an expanding industry. If you look around, just walk around, you see it everywhere. We see, we have people come in here, that are making a lot of money in this industry. It is not a shrinking industry, it’s a growing industry, it’s rally everywhere you go. It’s, you’re surrounded by it.
So many commercial printers we deal with here at AGFA often wonder, “Where do I find this work? Where do I find this work, to feed this machine that I have?” In many cases, they’re already dealing with these customers. They have a customer base. That customer isn’t just coming to them for all of their work, they must be going somewhere else for wide format.
That’s often a very good start. Go to them, find out what their other requirements are, what are their other demands, and many times, you could find a lot of work, right with your existing customer base.
We’ve seen a lot of the samples that can be produced on these machines. In many cases, ideally, you could produce samples for that existing customer base, that are unique to your-
Your capabilities, and then, once you have that relationship, they’re going to keep coming back.
If it’s unique, a lot of these, sort of specialized applications on this equipment, you really want to have that customer, bring them in, and lock them in with those unique applications.
We didn’t even touch upon all the things that it does, so I hope that everybody out there gets in touch with AGFA-
And gets in touch with their local people, their national people, on a local level.
That was really cool to find out. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
My pleasure, Deborah.