Following the departure of Karl Fritchen from BALDWIN Vision Systems (BVS) in September 2018, new President Vince Balistrieri answers our questions around his new role, explains what progress the company has made in the last year and shares his vision for BVS and its customers moving forward.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Vince. To remind our readers, could you explain to us what BVS is doing and how the merge came about?
BALDWIN Vision Systems has been in operation for just over a year now, having been formed on 7th December 2017 and uniting QuadTech, PC Industries, and Web Printing Controls into a single print technology powerhouse. After acquisition, we’ve spent the year rebranding those former company names into BALDWIN Vision Systems, owned by Baldwin Technology Company Inc. The thought behind it was that combining our wide-ranging expertise would expand and speed up the pace of development not only in terms of technology, but also by offering a broader product portfolio for packaging, commercial, and newspaper printers.
Is it too soon to expect that this merger has in any way benefited your customers, or the print industry in general?
We have already seen that when diverse technical capabilities are brought together under one umbrella, there is substantially more innovation taking place—and being developed more quickly. Rather than working independently on individual products, we are able to deliver data-connected workflows that enable printers to streamline their processes, troubleshoot problems and train staff, and prove the quality of their work. And all of these solutions now have a wider, global service and support network. By combining the resources of the three legacy companies, we have greatly expanded our ability to serve as valuable process consultants, rather than just being suppliers of equipment.
Previously, QuadTech, PC Industries and Web Printing Control were in direct competition with each other. How have you found the process of bringing all three companies together to form BVS?
We have worked very hard to ensure that we are not just offering a combination of all three product lines but that the different products complement each other. The merge has provided us with a fantastic opportunity to determine what makes our products successful, and then apply this to new and existing products as we continue growing the BVS product portfolio into a stronger and more complete set of solutions. Like other manufacturing industries, the print industry is moving quickly toward adoption of “Industry 4.0” smart technology—using data and connected workflows to achieve new levels of quality and production efficiency. Working together has positioned us well to help our customers move to that more profitable level, and has given us a much better understanding of their needs and how to address them. Together, we can now offer printers the ability to choose between multiple options in a product class and select the option that best fits their specific application, processes, and budget.
It sounds like this year has been very busy for you merging three existing businesses into one brand-new enterprise, I’m sure you must have drawn on your past experience to help you. How have your previous roles helped to prepare you to oversee this?
Initially I started out very technology-focused, I completed a degree in engineering before going into my first role working in product development for Rockwell Automation, which manufactures industrial control products. However, I soon realized that I found it more rewarding working with people to align around objectives to ensure the delivery of solutions that provide complete customer satisfaction. I was able to secure a management position within the software engineering team and continued to develop with the company. I then moved on to become Director of Engineering at a company called Johnson Controls, a global provider of building automation systems, where I managed a large group of people across multiple sites to develop a new generation of building automation systems. I joined QuadTech in 2005 as the Director of Engineering and worked in that and other roles until we were acquired by Baldwin Technology Company. From initially managing the corporate engineering team for parent company Quad/Graphics, as well as the engineering team that provided solutions to the print market, through to the role of Vice President of Operations in 2013, I was able to learn more about the different aspects of the business and gain a better understanding of the market. Through many years at QuadTech, my engineering and controls background as well as my business management experience and direct customer involvement around the globe has allowed me to develop a well-rounded skillset and understanding of the needs of printers, preparing me well for this role at BVS.
Can you tell us about any successes BVS has had this year?
Certainly. BVS has done a considerable amount to combine forces and be viewed as one company under the BALDWIN umbrella. Connectedness is very important for us going forward, establishing a broader portfolio within both BVS and BALDWIN allows us to be more connected.
At the start of the year our focus was on connecting our companies together and meeting the needs of our clients in terms of satisfying orders and improving our own efficiency. We quickly shifted to focus on aligning our leadership and technical teams across the businesses to put together a road map of smart, connected solutions for the future. Combining our respective knowledge and expertise has really helped us discover some great solutions that we plan to launch in the coming months.
Establishing BVS as its own company will certainly pave the way for success moving forward. What hopes do you have for BVS for the coming year and for the long-term future?
We are committed to building a strong and secure future for our customers as well as our own employees, so we will continue to invest in research and development so that we can surpass our competitors within the market in terms of the value that we provide. We are bringing more technology options and more support resources to our existing customer base. We have greater capability to respond to their ongoing needs in order to secure future business with them as well as driving new business in new markets to help BVS expand within the industry.
How do you think the label packaging and printing industries will evolve, and how will BVS fit in?
Many of our clients have concerns with regards to hiring new people with enough expertise to replace those that leave. The technology that we provide can help in these situations, because with automation it is possible to see consistently good results and monitor the printing jobs adequately. This way, printers are able to continue to improve the quality of their printing and their performance. QuadTech alone didn’t have a readily available solution for this issue in terms of the narrow web and labelling industries, but with BVS forming and the sharing of knowledge and products, we now have very strong solutions to meet the needs of these markets. This demonstrates how BVS will continue to grow and I think the company has a very bright future.
Are there any challenges within the industry overall?
Achieving consistent quality output is definitely an issue for all printers and was, in fact, the main issue addressed when the FTA surveyed their members in the U.S. Print providers need to be able to produce defect-free print with perfect color accuracy, because brands need to be consistent and recognizable from the outset. There is no room at all for variation when it comes to printing packaging, as consumers will see the outer packaging and associate that with the quality of the product inside. As such, automating color management and defect detection processes has become paramount for success. BVS can help to overcome this concern with smart solutions that guarantee consistency run after run, and with short run work giving rise to more challenges in terms of keeping the consistency, we can really help them.
With much of the merger activity taking place in the USA, how is BVS moving forward globally?
Our global footprint as a combined entity is one of the most exciting aspects of this new combination of resources. In addition to our headquarters in the U.S., QuadTech had very active sales and service offices in Europe, China, India, and Japan—and representation in many more countries. WPC and PC Industries had some global presence, but those product lines will definitely benefit from this expansion of sales and support capabilities. On top of that, what was 5 strategic locations for QuadTech is now expanded to 21 locations worldwide as BVS, under Baldwin Technology Company. For customers, that means a greatly enhanced availability as process consultants, and for parts & service support