Christoph Gamper · CEO · DURST

Christoph Gamper · CEO · DURST

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Christoph Thank you very much for allowing us to come and visit your fantastic headquarter here in Brixen. No, welcome to the headquarter in Brixen and fantastic that we can meet in real life finally, as I promised over a year ago. Over a year ago when we did the Over The Skype. Yeah I would just jump directly into it. Absolutely.

I take that when I see Durst from the outside, it looks like a very big success on almost every segment that you are operating in. And I would just curious Does all your success come from pure luck? No, I think pure luck is a good factor but no, it's actually hard work and it's some stubbornness and if you see the mountains around, you may understand it because, you know, you need some stubbornness to survive here in a good way. And I think that's a little secret about the success of Durst, and we have a very very hard working people.

A lot of excellent engineers. We're very curious and we love new solutions. So yeah that's make me! The reason I'm asking is because, I mean, you are an 80 plus year old company and you come from the photographic industry and have a long history in imaging and also in Ceramics and a lot of the areas that you cover today. And I was wondering, when you produce and you develop things, at some point there must be like being a defining moment where Durst came from being one type of company to Becoming the next type of company? I think there were over the lifespan of the company, a couple of defining moments and a couple of transitions, which were painful but necessary.

So Durst in the very beginning was basically had it's offerings to end customers because there was a point where we made cameras, where we made cameras and quite successfully cameras, but then cameras have been made in Japan a lot cheaper, better I don't know if it's better, but probably even better. I mean, we all know the guy, so we knew the guys. So, today it's more Apple than anyone else.

And we had to transform into something different than this transformation is in the DNA of Durst. We look at market, we say, okay, we've been there we've done this. We're successful, but what is next? Keep the successful up but do the next thing I'll drive you. That's the constant change we are having. So, maybe not the secret, but maybe a curiosity for where the market is going? Which market? Yeah. I mean, the markets that you address and the

I mean, when you start a R&D process on a new product I take that you do some,maybe some research or maybe you just think, okay, this is a good way to go. I mean, we could build a machine and then look for a market no, obviously we do some research and for us, the main directions to where we're going right now is packaging, if you want so, from label to flexpack to corrugate at different forms of packaging, we do this in the label and flexible business alone. We do this and folding carton and corrugated together with Koenig & Bauer As you know, we have a JV there. And we're looking into other forms of packaging, including metal and excluding nothing. That's one main direction, then we have a very, very strong roots in industrial printing.

So for us industrial printing meaning Ceramics. We're leading ceramics, or one of the leading providers in ceramic Decoration Printing. From there, we're going now into Glaze Printing, which means it's an industrial 3D.

And from there we go to other places, which I can't tell you right now, but that's a direction where we're going where we're putting in. Plus, one of our still main segments and still stable, and actually right now, thankfully growing again as life is re-starting is large format. So these are our pillars where we're moving, plus you can put add to the mix of textile, I mean industrial textile and a very, very strong focus to software but software, meaning things which help customers being successful. So from front-end to if you want to call it a process or RIP software, but backend that we're adding a couple of things, not everything is known to the public yet, -but slowly fair enough. -Yeah of course.

The reason I was asking about ‘luck' is because I didn't think it was luck only, but I was thinking that as you said, the mountains and the geography, and also the culture back on the company history plays a big role in defining you as a company, of course. And I was wondering, if when you look at recruiting people in a more rural area compared to if you were in a really big city and you know, sometimes you have the universities just, I mean, how is it to get the right people? Because if it's not luck, it's a good understanding of getting to your end decision or your end point, right? My preferred punchline is hope is no strategy that's close to luck. So we don't hope we don't have luck in a certain way. It is obviously we're trying to fish and harvest very early at universities we are working with You're right, we do not have an immediate, we are not sitting in the middle of a tech landscape.

This sometimes is an advantage, it's a disadvantage most of the times it's in the middle, advantage and disadvantage I mean But as you may see, even from the architecture and from what we're doing for this region here, we are a landmark and we quite attractive as a tech company. Yes, of course. Act as a tech company. So a lot of students coming out, even if they study in München or in Graz or in Milan, but mostly from the German speaking areas when they want to come back. Because a lot of people from this region move out to Austria and Germany.

Because the opportunities were not there when they were younger and now you have been developing, now there's an opportunity. Now there is an opportunity, and really when they come back over the Brenner, so if you're driving from here, you see this thing here and you are intact. And you're one of the first addresses in this region where you want to work for.

And luckily for us, some of the people, most of the people already worked for some tech or automotive companies. So we have guys here from Audi, from BMW which where they're in development, they come back and they bring huge value back to us. When you see the building, because you mentioned that and the building is become an icon for Durst of course and you use it on your websites, you use it in your branding and everything like that. And it is a fantastic building, but it also shows a level of confidence that some of your competitors may not show the same way. How important is being an icon and being a front mover in your opinion? This building now was do because we have another iconic building in Austria as well. No, but I think I personally think, and I was involved in every square meter here.

That architecture is a new universal language, which tells a story. Now, I don't want to tell a story to my competitor. I don't really care about that. No, No, I won't asking you talk anything about that.

I was more like, you know, you can some people live good silent, and some people really have the pride and show confident in the market. And I think that the confidence that you show, I take that it also supports your story building as you story telling, right? I think so. Yes, definitely. But the confidence I want to show is towards our own employees and towards our customers as well. So we are a rock if you want to but a beautiful rock and the technology you can rely on.

I mean, we are private. We're 100% family owned company. I mean, we're two shareholders. We own this, and this is over 80 years old and we are here to stay.

So if you deal with us, you don't deal with a publicly traded companies. If you deal with me as a CEO, I'm a Co-owner and CEO I'm here I cannot escape it. So, and this confident Doesn't look like you're trying to either, right? No, that's right. But this confidence we're showing as well, architecture wise, and I really, really want to have this is built for my people, it's not built for show. This my area is used for my guys to party tomorrow for my guys, you know.

But the reason I'm asking is because I think that everybody in the industry now knows Durst, and I don't know how many years back you have to go where not everybody knew you So that is also like a journey. I mean, because when you move from one industry to more segments in, I mean, even you are pay off here in this wonderful room is ready to print. And that is what you do.

That is what defines you as a company right now. So, I think when I asked you these questions is because I think that when customers have the trust investing in your products, investing in your software, investing in your services, it's because you have been able to bring that confidence from your staff and from yourself to the market, right? Yeah. Does it make sense what I'm asking or? It makes a lot of sense, it's just that you know, I have to reflect myself a little bit, but yes defiantly. Should we have a toast on that? Oh yeah, we should. Yeah, definitely! Cheers, good to see you.

Good to see you. What are we drinking Christoph? Ca' del Bosco is a Franciacorta . It's not from South Tirol, later we're gonna try a South Tirol. Ok, ok. But, it's a real good Franciacorta it's like a champenoise wine from Italy.

I like it a very lot, but I was just distracting you right now. So let get back on track, right? very good. Now, getting back on track. Yes! I mean, you earn customers, you don't get them by luck, right? No, we don't get them by luck.

I mean, first of all, we don't let the buildings or the architecture lead to something where we say, yeah, we have nice architecture, but they don't build nice machines. Obviously right. I mean, if we walk into the part where we built the machines, if we walk into the part where we do the demonstrations, if customers come here, they see this is a seamless integration, our design on the machine, is as careful as our design on the architecture is careful as the desks where people are working.

And as careful as we treat our family. So it is a language we're talking and the buildings are just another expression or a culture of this language, I would say. And thankfully, now answering your question, the market seems to appreciate the language we're talking. So we have more or less all of our customers come wanting their lifespan here to Brixen, and they appreciate that this is welcoming, that is what it is.

And when I started, it was a completely different story. Talking about your products, how difficult is it to develop and be on the edge of the technology in this segment you address. So usually we say a new product, new segment, five years. Five years. And then, anywhere from five to 25 millions, and then you have a first product and then you need another two years until everything is more or less settled. And then you can start to get into a payback.

So this is a little bit different as we are a family company. We really look into periods pre COVID of 7 to 10 years if we address the market, we usually bite in and stay there. We do a very, very, very strict segmentation. So we identify where is the niche for us, where we can do, let's say anywhere from 50 to 500 machines, which are from anywhere from 400,000 to 2 million, this is we're going to target we address it and there we stay laser sharp. And there we are number one, or number two. If you're not able to do this with drop out and do something else.

Because this wouldn't. I do understand that, and I think that is a good approach. I mean, my mind is probably not import there, but I was a little bit curious about I mean, because if you look at the printing industry, let's say 25 years ago, it was an extremely mechanical industry, right? Then it becomes like electromechanical kind of industry. Then it became like a computer driven.

And maybe today it's of course it's a very Customer-Centric Driven industry. And I was just wondering, because if you, if we look at the quality of the output of your machines, for example, it is where most people would probably say can’t get better, right? So where is the technology in very broad perspective, where do you think it's the difficulties or the challenges and how to get that appreciation from the market in a future perspective? I think there two factors to it, One factor is the Inkjet Digital Inkjet is out of the baby shoes to quality can maybe get better, but you can say that the quality has a level where it can stick for a while. And yes, you can always do improvement but the other factories, as you said, years ago you were talking about the other things. I think 2014, we start our own software companies, which by now are quite big for our dimensions to go to do something different, we said, okay we know how to build machines. They make them better anyhow, the iterations of them, but now we have to work on the process and working on the process does not mean build better or faster machines means you need to build a software hardware systems around, which allow you to process faster. And at the end of the day more profitable, so this is our aim.

We still built the best machines and we will continue this Of course. but now we're starting to focus around the process. We try as you say, Customer Centric I would say yes Customer Centric, but also process centric. And this is where we're going, this is where we're putting our effort in. So, I mean just if I should put it in words that I understand so basically that is like the, if you think of the hardware as a platform and the software as the kind of driver for your business basically, that is like making sure that those technologies bridges even better together to make sure that everything from the business perspective to the processes, to the quality control to, I mean, all the things that you do that is like, that is the next big step to make sure that it works.

Definitely that is the next big step Okay I mean, there you can fantasize then what else you could do with it if I mean, there's a lot of talks about automated integrated production and so on, but yes, definitely you want to make it easier to run the control, to control the output, because if you think back a little bit what, let's take a moment with a large format printing when the first large format printers they didn't print pictures they print ‘gold’ basically because the margins very huge, but then things change more a competition comes in and until slowly, slowly it's not a matter if you print the nicest print, it is how efficient you do it for the application you need it and I think that's the difference now. Now, we're getting into a more industrialized thinking. Christoph, one of the things that I know a lot of people have paid attention to is that you have an open, very open-minded culture when it comes to cooperating with other companies. It's not a secret that you are working with the Fujifilm on the printheads.

It's not a secret that you work with Koenig & Bauer on some new co-venture kind of products. What does that openness, is that something that you think is an essential part of your culture, or is it just a necessity? We had to learn at the hard way. Unfair question, right? No, will it's not unfair, no, no. It is we have to learn in the hard way. I think that the challenge is if you really want to be really, really good about, within the value chain of a customer, you need to cooperate because you cannot do everything and you're not going to be the best in every different angles. So when we talk for example, about our software workflows, we integrate a lot of technologies from the best round the world.

And so at a certain point, I said I cannot address the packaging market by myself, for example, folding carton I can't do Also because it's a huge market, right? It's huge, and I mean, we are a little private company, very small. So this is, but we know a couple of things may be better than others. So we started to think, should we, could we, shall we? And you decided to go that way, right? It took a good bottle of white wine and a couple of dinners. No, no. To really, and someone in front of me who I trust it you know, trust is for us as this little company this little big company, some very, very essential thing.

So I look carefully who a cooperate with and for who I don't cooperate with, but yes, it is in the DNA to cooperate as well. Fantastic. Let's talk about the future. I mean, one thing is we just spoke a little bit about the products and things like that, but if you look in a I mean, some segments in the industry are decreasing markets, maybe not so much the segments that you are addressing because you have been good at addressing like the label segment and the textile segment, and a large format and now packaging.

And also, I mean it seems that all the segments that you're addressing are not decreasing, but the market is decreasing in general for commercial print. And I was wondering being a private owned company. Does that influence how you see your longer perspective of being a major supplier in the industry? It does and it doesn't but I mean, obviously we identifies, we try to net for sectors, which are growing and we are very well aware of what's going on a left and right in the printing fields. But as I told you before, large format for us is right now, rock solid and growing again. But the big market is definitely one of the big market is packaging.

And the other one is industrial printing now if it's textile, if it's this or this, we have the engines right for it. But thinking into the future and beyond just software and process and supply chain and it's quite well known that I am a big believer in 3D Printing, but a little bit different maybe than anyone else. And if you sit here next year, I'm going to show you a lot more. Hang on a second! I hope to be a next year, that would be awesome. But I was thinking if you look a little bit more than on the product side and look a little bit further in the future, because I mean, some companies believe that their future is becoming a public company, and because sometimes it can raise the money that you need, but you emphasize that the value of being a private company, because you can make the decisions without talking to anybody but yourself and your board, right? So I was just thinking that if the market becomes even more competitive and the investments in new R&D is becoming much bigger than today because everything gets a little bit more difficult or challenging. I was just wondering, do you see yourself also in a long-term perspective as a private owned company? I mean, as for now, yes. Definitely, yes.

But to give you the perspective from my side, we are participating, I think in 25- 35 different startups where we're seeding and where we're Ok, so you also have other startups basically? Active. Very active in the startup of work. And we even have I mean, Harrold and I are involved as business angels . We do seed, we do start up we start up our own companies. I cannot tell you if Durst will be private in 100 years, but I can tell you one thing in 10 years, we will still be private and what's then? I don't know. Yeah, I know.

I mean, I know it was impossible question but the reason I was thinking about, because you know, in the very first question I had to you was about luck, right? And we kind of crossed that out and say that it was more a question about being clever and having the right people and have the right mindset for the market. And now when I asked you about the future, and that perspective is because, I mean when you, as a manager and as a co-owner of Durst is looking into the future, it might be interesting for people to understand that the opportunities that you see in the market can be actually develop produced, delivered, even though you are not a public company because I think it gives a lot of confidence that you have your own hand on the boilerplates over speak, right? Yeah, but this is why I did, for example, this joint venture with Koenig & Bauer because I said, this is a huge chance for architecture market. Something where you can share some of the risk also, maybe? Yes, I can say, okay but you are that big and you are public, so go. Take the advantages from the public but stay private, right? Right. And this is, I mean, there are more for, I'm not, this is not the emphasis to stay private forever but for us, it's a big advantage. We just, we are simply able to move faster than a lot of other people.

I mean, with all the respect for all public companies, if you look at Apple and other new companies, Hugely successful but we decide our own faith. And we like this for now very much the next generation, I don't know. So personally, where do you see yourself in in the next 2, 5, 10 years? To 5, 10 years. I will be around the world as I always have been.

I will be working a couple of years CEO, but then go back more in an advisory role I think we will. Yeah. Fantastic. Thank you. Thank you.

2021-08-30 16:21

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