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DIGITAL digest 4-01

April 2001
Its Own Digital Roadmap

Toward the end of last year, Agfa Corp. announced that Robert J. Stabler had been named president of its Graphic Systems North American business unit. Stabler replaced Alexander van Meeuwen, who had led the business group since 1996.

The new group president joined Agfa U.K. in 1984 and has since held a variety of positions of increasing responsibilities in photo sales and marketing, both in Agfa's U.K. and U.S. organizations. In January 1999, he joined the U.S. Consumer Imaging group as vice president of marketing and was promoted to senior vice president in April 1999.

To gain some insight into his vision for the company and hear his first impressions about the graphic arts industry, Printing Impressions sat down with Stabler recently for a Q&A session. We also were joined by Susan Wittner, marketing director of Graphic Systems, Agfa Corp.

PI: When you were named president of Graphic Systems, were you given any mandate for the business unit?

Stabler: The group had an existing strategy in place, which I very quickly bought into. There were no preconceived ideas that when I came in there was going to be a major change. It is my job to be the leader of the team that is going to execute the existing strategy.

Agfa's product portfolio probably is the broadest of any manufacturer in the industry, for the part of the industry—prepress area—that we service. Our strategy is to leverage that product portfolio into a business model that is more salient and touches our customers much more.

In this very technology-oriented industry, the tendency has been to focus on products, and not necessarily to focus on providing solutions. What we see, with the increased complexity that technology brings, is printers in all segments of the market looking for manufacturers that are going to consult with them and talk about solutions across a wide breadth of products and technologies. That is the position we think Agfa can occupy very well.

PI: What are the main areas of difference in dealing with the Consumer Imaging business versus Graphic Systems?

Stabler: Most of our consumer imaging business in North America is business-to-business. We deal with professional photo finishers and wholesale finishing laboratories.

Even though the technologies and market obviously are different, the business proposition—of a complete, integrated system approach—is very similar for both groups.
 

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