One of the bigger label industry M&A stories in recent years was the 2011 RotoMetrics acquisition of Gerhardt. Driven by the proliferation of flexible die usage in the label converting industry, the deal brought together two industry leaders and resulted in RotoMetrics taking ownership of a broader flexible die portfolio. Specifically, following the acquisition, the company offered 11 flexible die products with 28 separate variations.
While being able to offer more products may seem like a very good thing for a supplier, having so many choices can sometimes complicate a customer’s purchasing decisions. “We inadvertently confused the marketplace with tools that offered too many options and sometimes overlapped capabilities, making our customers’ selection processes difficult,” explains Molly Moroni, RotoMetrics Sales Director for the Americas. “As we engaged with and listened to feedback from a broad range of customers, it became clear that RotoMetrics needed to update and simplify its product line.”
Just as printers and converters recalibrate their equipment to maintain quality and predictability, RotoMetrics found it needed to consider product adjustments in order to keep the product line competitive and continue to provide customer satisfaction. Thus, RotoMetrics embarked on a rationalization of its flexible die portfolio, which, according to Vice President of Global Marketing Karen Moreland, has been a major undertaking, but one that is netting positive feedback.
Over the course of what Moreland describes as an intensive process, RotoMetrics’ flexible die product line has been refined from 28 types of flexible dies to four core products. L&NW recently caught up with Moreland to discuss the project, and the advantages to the new, streamlined product portfolio.
Karen Moreland: Historically, we’ve always taken pride in solving individual customer needs, and when a customer is accustomed to a particular name or brand, we hesitate to push them to change. While we certainly still customize products for specialty applications, it became clear that most of our customers are extremely busy with the challenges of running their operations and could benefit from a distilled and easy-to-choose product line. We developed a comprehensive process to identify and incorporate the best combination of product features to deliver value across the spectrum, from short run digital labels and thermal transfer applications to high speed beverage labels on the thinnest liners.
L&NW: It sounds like a lot of difficult decisions had to be made. How were you able to narrow down the product line?
KM: We focused on the core ways that our products add value to our customers and distilled that into specific characteristics in terms of die life, blade geometry, and speed. In our custom make-to-order business it’s tempting to over-complicate the product, but by keeping customer needs as the focus, we were able to introduce discipline in our development process. This year we’re introducing the new line, Accu-Series, offering converters a full range of features within the new portfolio and enabling them to pick the individual product features required for the application. RotoMetrics spent months of research, development and field-testing to ensure that we chose the right combination of features to deliver value to our customers on a global basis.
L&NW: How are your customers benefiting from the new product line? How does RotoMetrics benefit?
KM: In this case, condensing the product lineup makes customer ordering much simpler, and also speeds up RotoMetrics’ order fulfillment. Clients will be able to choose from a list of four products without losing any of the features available in the prior array of 11 brands with a myriad of variations. For RotoMetrics, it’s now easy to concisely communicate the benefits of each product to customers by recognizing the specific application needs they have, and to focus our continuing R&D investments based on end user market demands. We focus on offering local service with global standards. Having a controlled product range ensures that our customers get a consistent product whether they are producing in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia, or elsewhere. It also helps create consistent flow through our production operations, resulting in improved speed and reliability. Additionally, monitoring trends of four products instead of eleven allows us to respond swiftly to evolving market demands.
L&NW: Some people are resistant to change, but with the label industry continuously evolving, would you say the phrase “change is good,” applies?
KM: It’s not just good, it’s imperative to be able to tell a customer that your company is making changes to better meet their needs. For example, the development work we did to launch the AccuStar Life product resulted in a product that’s delivering significantly longer die life for abrasive thermal transfer jobs, and the work we did with our customers and material suppliers to meet their requirements to convert jobs on both 92 gauge and 75 gauge PET liners has resulted in our AccuStar UltraFilm die. The printing and converting industries are constantly evolving to address current and new needs and trends. Products relevant to the industry even five years ago may be irrelevant today. We have to evolve and innovate along with the market.
L&NW: Now that you experienced a product line calibration firsthand, what advice can you give those that are considering a change in their product offering?
KM: Listen to your customers, and don’t be afraid to adjust as you listen and learn. The product line evolved during a soft launch phase based on results in the field. Get customers involved early on. Their input during the development stage is critical to ensure you are solving real world problems. Create a candid feedback loop, and make it easy for customers to convey results and to respond to that feedback.
Launching at Labelexpo
At Labelexpo Europe 2013, RotoMetrics will be featuring its newly recalibrated Accu-Series product line. The four core options are designed to empower converters with greater product customization, quickly, at the right cost. For today’s typical short-to mid-run projects, the AccuSmart is the economic choice. For more cutting options, the AccuPrime provides capabilities to convert a wider range of substrates and liners. For the most challenging applications, AccuStar UltraFilm delivers the most exacting cutting precision for taking on the most challenging synthetics, while the AccuStar Life targets the most abrasive materials.