As we go to press for our April issue, I’m just back from a trip to St. Louis for Mark Andy’s Open House. There, the company unveiled and demonstrated live for the first time its new Digital Series. The digital demo was the event’s main attraction, and the converters and analysts on hand who I spoke with were pretty impressed.
I was impressed by more than the press. A key takeaway for me was the message the company was sending. Mark Andy has tried in the past to go digital to varying degrees and had limited success. In 2009, Mark Andy launched its Performance Series flexo line as a direct response to the rise and acceptance of digital printing within the label industry. The Performance line has won awards, and it’s been a great success. But with the new Digital Series, they’ve shifted gears in Missouri, fully entering the digital market. The Digital Series is touted as a high quality integrated hybrid inkjet platform, combining configurable in-line converting and processing at production-level speeds. With R&D, manufacturing, service and support in-house, Mark Andy is now all-in with digital.
What’s interesting to me is the synergy at work. With this press, multiple elements (flexo and digital) are interacting to produce something greater than the sum of their individual parts. In the overall case of Mark Andy as a supplier, the company now offers both digital and flexo presses. Combine that with the results of the 2012 acquisition of Print Products, the recent appointment as distributor of DuPont Cyrel platemaking systems, and synergy is truly at work all-around. For Mark Andy, calling themselves a “total solutions provider” is not just marketing lingo.
In this month’s Narrow Web Europe column, John Penhallow questions why, despite the M&A trend, there hasn’t been a significant merger of digital and conventional press manufacturers (with the exception of the Gallus/CSAT deal). It got me thinking: Imagine a merger of a leading digital and a leading flexo press maker? This would certainly be big news, and would make for a really big Labelexpo booth.
At the Open House, Mark Andy personnel were clear to present flexo and digital as complementary technologies. You need both, and neither is going anywhere. A panel of three converters discussed candidly their most recent press purchases, and, somewhat surprisingly, all three had gone flexo. Though let it be known that the trio also shared their digital press success stories.
Certainly for the foreseeable future, flexo will remain the industry’s dominant technology. However, most of the converters I speak with who are currently not equipped with digital acknowledge that it’s only a matter of time. They see the value in having both, offering customers both technologies, no longer happy to pass on business to their digitally-enhanced friends.
The case is being made for synergy.
Steve Katz, Editor