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A Talk With Alexander van Meeuwen--Capturing Critical Mass

May 1998
One year ago, Alexander van Meeuwen, senior vice president for Bayer Corp. and president of its innovative Agfa Graphic Systems Division, shared his strategies with Printing Impressions. At that time, van Meeuwen spoke of a new discipline at the prepress innovator. He touted Agfa's goal of maintaining its position as the undisputed global market leader in system solutions. And he affirmed Agfa's continued support of its dealer channel.

Today, with the acquisition of DuPont's offset printing plates and graphic films business freshly tucked into its portfolio, the supplier is involved in expanding its product assortment. Major developments include the marketing of Agfa's Galileo digital platesetter, the recent launch of Agfa's Apogee PrintDrive output manager, Apogee Viper PDF RIP family and the introduction of the Antares family of CTP solutions.

Recently, Agfa introduced its Digital Roadmaps program, a seminar series focusing on topics from CTP to PDF workflow to digital printing. Agfa also launched an interactive Web site ( that allows users to navigate their way through areas of CTP, digital printing and high-end workflows.

Where is van Meeuwen leading Agfa, and what are the corporate objectives of this growing prepress supplier, particularly in the wake of the DuPont offset plates and films business acquisition?

Time to meet with van Meeuwen. Again....

Alexander Van Meeuwen virtually jogs into his office. He has less than an hour to talk. He still has to wrap up a deskload of office details, return several phone calls and e-mails, look over some figures, then rush out the door to catch a plane bound for, well, that's classified. An 8 p.m. business meeting is on van Meeuwen's agenda this particular day.

Still, despite the exhausting time constraints this specific Monday presents to him, van Meeuwen is charming, distinguished and patient as he takes a seat to talk about his most encompassing professional mission to date: the stability, structuring and success of Agfa.

Where to begin?

Van Meeuwen, taking barely a second, opts to start the conversation with the focus of Agfa today—its growing customer base and the dramatically proactive stance Agfa is taking with its customers.

Within the past 12 to 18 months, Agfa restructured its internal synergies, van Meeuwen reports, with a focus on internal training, increasing customer awareness and elevating the duties of top marketing managers to new heights.

Today, Agfa's marketing and sales managers are 100-percent responsible for all areas of their specified businesses, including profitability. All figures are turned over to van Meeuwen, naturally, for evaluation. This, he swears, is a winning corporate strategy: empowering employees to empower the customers.

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