More diverse technical capabilities under one company umbrella

An interview with Karl Fritchen, president of Baldwin Vision Systems, on the acquisition of QuadTech and PC Industries

In late 2017, both QuadTech and PC Industries were acquired by Baldwin Technology Company Inc., a manufacturer and supplier of process-automation equipment and related consumables for the printing, packaging and other industrial segments. In this interview, Karl Fritchen, answers questions around the acquisition, explains the impact this agreement will have on the industry and the company’s existing customers, and shares his ideas for Baldwin Vision Systems moving forward.

Karl Fritchen, president of Baldwin Vision Systems, answers questions around the acquisition, explains the market impact of this agreement, and shares his ideas for the company moving forward (Source: Baldwin)

 

There have been rumors in the market that QuadTech is being dissolved or reduced now that it has been acquired. Is there any truth in that?

Definitely not. In fact, QuadTech’s press controls business is actually expanding, under a different corporate parent and name. Baldwin Technology Company is uniting QuadTech’s press controls business with two of its existing entities – Web Printing Controls and PC Industries – creating a global platform that will operate as the new Baldwin Vision Systems business segment.

We recognised the potential of adding QuadTech to our portfolio of print technology solutions, combining talents and capabilities with PC Industries and WPC. Baldwin’s overall strategy required a component with colour management, register control, and inspection solutions. For QuadTech, being part of a larger organization means more diverse technical capabilities under one company umbrella. Our product offerings are now stronger and more complete, and we have already won new business with our new combined offering.

 So, there are no plans to divide and sell QuadTech’s assets?

QuadTech is the 4th acquisition for Baldwin in 2017 and the 100th acquisition for the Barry-Wehmiller Group. In its history, Barry-Wehmiller has never closed or sold one of its acquisitions so we’re confident that these companies are invested in our future and continued success. In addition, the synergies between QuadTech’s product portfolio and expertise and Baldwin make the two companies an ideal match.

How will your customers benefit from this new company structure?

Many of our competitors have individual products. However, with this new powerhouse of technologies, we’re now able to put more pieces together to offer complete software and hardware solutions for colour management, register control, and inspection. We’re able to connect data throughout the overall process and workflow, with automated tools for pre-press, at press, and post-press. This will provide customers and prospects with a more streamlined, coherent solution, better equipping the industry to meet demand for accurate and increased quality control within the shortest possible timeframe.

In addition, prior to the acquisition, PCI and WPC were well known in the USA, but did not have a global sales and service footprint. Now their product lines are available and fully supported worldwide, along with QuadTech’s. By combining with Baldwin’s existing global network, our customers can now benefit from a much stronger product portfolio that’s available to more markets, through more offices, agents, and service operations.

Can you explain this expanded global reach in more detail? Where exactly will you be located?

As part of Baldwin, we are expanding from five to 21 locations worldwide. We just moved into our new headquarters at Waukesha, WI/USA. However, our U.S. manufacturing operation is moving to Baldwin’s facility in Fairfield, IL(USA, and that move is already well underway.

We are continuing our presence in the regions we were in previously but combining with Baldwin will give us all a much stronger presence in all of those markets, such as the Americas, Europe, India, Japan, and southeast Asia—and even expand our presence in other markets. We now have opportunities to leverage economies from volume across a broader range of products and locations for improved system and service offerings.

What do you see as your key market advantage?

In addition to the financial backing and global platform of a large and growing organization, we bring several advantages. As I’ve mentioned, this new combination of companies creates a much stronger product portfolio and a more solid global footprint for packaging, commercial, and newspaper markets.

For all print shops, we also act as process consultants, rather than just being equipment suppliers. For example, on the packaging side, we are also in regular conversations with brand owners, which gives us a unique insight into their pain points and expectations. This enables us to collaborate with print shops and brand owners alike on solutions that meet brands’ requirements. We also have strong relationships with ink manufacturers to ensure that we can offer our customers support with an expanded range of production issues.

What will happen to current QuadTech, PCI, and WPC product lines? Will products be continued/discontinued?

There is minimal overlap between the current product lines. For example, in packaging applications, our combined product portfolio includes options for flexo, gravure, offset, and the unique requirements of digital print. We offer pre-press proofing solutions, as well as on-press and post-press solutions across narrow-, mid-, and wide-web applications. Furthermore, we offer connected tools across pre-press, production and post-press workflows that help customers monitor and manage much more than just the print process – but also their inks, job data, production quality and reports. 

However, where we ourselves face obsolescence issues from within our supply chain, we do plan to discontinue select products and replace them with suitable alternatives that offer a longer horizon for parts and support. We are therefore planning to replace:

  • The PCI GV-Spectro inline colour measuring system with the QuadTech DeltaCam suitable for packaging and label applications
  • The QuadTech PDF offline proofing system supplied with the PCI Guardian OLP detect printing defects such as missing or extra prints, pre-press errors, plate defects and colour variations.

Customers who bought any of our products recently can rest assured that parts or suitable alternatives for any products will be made available for at least seven to ten years after the announcement of any product discontinuation. In addition, all our solutions will keep their current product names and will therefore be identifiable moving forward.

 What about new product development? Is that going to continue? 

Absolutely. We now have more available resources for new product development, and a renewed focus on making existing technology available to a wider market – whether that means new systems or upgrading and optimizing existing presses. In fact, this quarter we will have our first new product launch as Baldwin Vision Systems, so look for more information on that coming soon!

The combined Engineering teams of WPC, PCI and QuadTech have been integrated into two market-focused teams. The Packaging team is led by Kelly Hanaway, whereas the Commercial & Newspaper team is led by Herman Gneuchtel. 

What are your objectives for the future of Baldwin Vision Systems? How does this align with the wider company’s vision?

To summarize, the acquisition was executed to offer a complete product portfolio to the market that will enable them to pursue a larger share of the global print technology market. The important components that QuadTech brings are expertise in colour management and register control, a robust set of solutions, and a global platform. In addition, Baldwin has a strong desire to be a force in the packaging and converting markets, where QuadTech has already been developing some technologies. We are therefore poised to make a significant impact on printers’ bottom lines, and their ability to connect data and workflows to automate their processes.

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