EFI CONNECT FROM 2004-2019
In our first outing to EFI Connect in 2004, we never could have imagined it would be the beginning of a 15-year run. Every year, we made an effort to meet with as many attendees as possible, and we always learned something of significance in the realm of print.
At that first Connect, I had the invaluable opportunity to interview EFI CEO Guy Gecht, and asked him directly to describe the event.
“EFI is a continuation of the conference established by PrintCafe,” said Gecht [Editor’s note: EFI acquired PrintCafe in 2003]. “Those attending are users of Fiery, Velocity, and other front-end solutions. A total of 150 seminars are presented over a two-day period. It is not a sales conference. We have a small exhibit area with about 21 vendor partners displaying their products. It is a relaxed and informal atmosphere with lots of one-on-ones.”
In 2004, over 1,100 people attended Connect, and the cost for attending the conference was $800. The typical attendee was an executive of a commercial print company, and many of them came just to hear the EFI message. In our interview, Gecht said over 700 commercial printers were represented.
At the 2005 conference, we lined up Marc Olin who was then vice president and general manager of Commercial Print Systems. Marc was also the owner of PrintCafe when it was acquired by EFI in 2003.
Like we asked Gecht, we turned to Marc for his take on Connect.
“The conference is all about the high-IQ printer, and the tools they need to make very efficient decisions that will enable them to be more competitive,” said Marc. “If there was a single focus that is what it would be.”
When I went back and re-visited my notes on my interview with Marc, one thing jumped out. He addressed how EFI was helping the industry transition printers from offset to digital.
“We have a number of sessions that are all about making that transition,” said Marc. “We have sessions that address proofing, and another that talks about the five keys for effective prospecting for digital, managing your database, how to improve profitability, growing sales with variable data printing, and selling VDP tools.”
In 2006, prior to attending Connect, we interviewed Frank Mallozzi who was then vice president of worldwide sales. We were trying to understand why manufacturers were positioning their higher-speed convenience color devices with an embedded controller. Clearly, the Fiery controller was a far superior DFE (digital front-end), offering superior processing speeds, enhanced color control, and more efficient workflow.
Being an astute sales professional, Frank had to give a politically correct answer as the OEMs were and remain customers of EFI. What we learned about embedded controllers was that it was all about the cost. Manufacturers wanted to introduced their digital color devices at the lowest possible price point and by embedded a controller they could offer their devices at a lower price point. Later, they then offered, in many instances, the Fiery as an upgrade to meet the needs of those customers who needed a more robust DFE.
“We are seeing more and more color applications evolve in the office,” said Frank on the 2006 state of affairs. “We call these applications crossovers. These are applications that require the quality and performance of the engines in this space. These are applications that go beyond Excel, PowerPoint presentations, and color Word documents with any bit of color graphics.The performance is sacrificed without a Fiery. I ask the dealers to run it for themselves. The proof is in the pudding.”
In 2005, EFI acquired Vuetek. Thanks to the company’s great effort and determination, EFI took a software company and elevated it to the second-best provider of industrial printers in the world, according to the highly recognized Frank Romano, who has published many books about print and is also a professor, specializing in print, at Cal Poly.