This month’s interview is with Andrew Oransky, president and CEO of Roland DGA.
What path brought you to your current role with Roland DGA?
I’ve spent my entire career in the digital printing industry. After graduating from RIT, I started in sales in the supplies part of the business, working for a media coater. I spent a few years with ENCAD, an early innovator in large-format hardware and, just prior to coming to Roland, ran the specialty and digital products sales team for a large paper manufacturing company. In 2008, I moved to Orange County, California, to manage the product management group at Roland DGA and have held a variety of positions within the company since then.
Who would you consider role models in your career and why?
I’ve had a lot of managers and colleagues that I’ve learned from throughout my lengthy career within this industry. To name all of them would take up more space than we have for the purposes of this article. I’m also worried that I’d forget to mention someone, and I’d hate to slight anyone who has helped me get where I am.
What advice do you find yourself giving the most to print shops that are just getting started?
Focus on all the printed products your customers need, and find ways to fulfill those needs, even if that means outsourcing. I know that sounds odd coming from someone who sells equipment. However, I often see users offering only the range of finished products that are well-suited to the equipment they have, rather than trying to get as much of the print buyers’ business as possible. Doing the latter achieves two goals: It reduces the number of potential competing printers that their customers interact with, plus it allows them to build business segments, making hardware investments easy to justify when the volume rises.
What are the most common pitfalls you see new shops get themselves into?
Every day, we talk to business owners who are passionate about their industry, applications, and technology. New business owners need to pair that passion with a clear plan to promote themselves and acquire customers. Because the typical startup has a limited number of employees, the owner is often head down in production and not out there selling the next job. Make sure to leave time in the day for those important tasks, and use all the incredible, and often low-cost, technology available to drive business to your door. SEO, AdWords, and a variety of other online tools can be your 24-hour sales force while you’re working on other things.
What is the most impressive innovation Roland DGA has introduced in your time with the company?
It’s hard to pick just one. Roland has introduced a lot of “firsts” to the market, but I’ve been particularly proud of the fact that in almost every case, the continued evolution of our products has been driven by customer feedback and responding to end user demands. For example, in the case of our new TrueVIS VG2 series, improvements to the registration and cutting system were based on knowledge gained through our long history of selling integrated print/cut devices and addressing the needs of our customers. Likewise, our new TR2 ink development was driven by customer demand for faster lamination, improved performance guarantees, and greater color gamut to hit difficult colors.
What are the next big hurdles for printer manufacturers to overcome?
Over the years, printer size, speed and resolution have increased significantly. It has gotten to the point where these devices are now big enough, fast enough and capable of delivering image quality that meets the needs of most users. This being the case, manufacturers are now focusing on making usability improvements and introducing products that can create new revenue opportunities for customers. We need to make sure that we really understand how our products get used, and how they fit into our overall workflow and businesses of our users. That will allow us to develop products that address specific pain points and create new opportunities for printed product sales.
What areas of printing do you see having the greatest potential for growth?
The explosion in customization of consumer products has created huge opportunities for printers. We’ve seen a variety of new businesses, both online and in traditional retail environments, set up solely to print on products that range from T-shirts, coffee mugs and electronics, to more exotic items like furniture or even outdoor pavers. The biggest challenges to success are promotion and customer acquisition, as most printers already have technology that is appropriate for at least some of these applications.
What is a printer feature that you find your clients don’t use to maximum effectiveness?
I think a lot of users can unlock more value in the software. For instance, VersaWorks 6 – Roland’s most powerful and user-friendly RIP to date – offers a wealth of useful new tools designed to increase efficiency, accuracy and productivity. These include updated registration systems for print/cut, basic image editing, new color management choices, and even automatic generation of special color plates for white, gloss, and other ink layers. Even long-time users are often surprised when we show them all the time they can save and extra features they can access with this free upgrade.