Interview with Rolf Manser in CardsNow Asia, Issue March/April 2007
Has 2006 been a wondrous year for you? Share with us some of the achievements attained by your company in the cards industry.
Rolf Manser: 2006 was definitely an important year for the Blumer Company. After following an extensive period of research and development, we were extremely pleased to have introduced our CCS 310 system at the Cartes Show in Paris. The positive response for this innovative cutting solution as well as successful installations in Europe have shown us that our vision of a system to produce high value, long life cards from durable materials such as Poly Carbonate as efficiently as softer materials, was on the right track. We are satisfied that we have invested our resources into an area poised for growth and development. Further, the past year was a very good year for us in sales. As the responsible person for Blumer’s worldwide sales, I am very pleased that we were able to exceed the ambitious sales budget we set.
The cards industry needs big cards machines. Explain why the cards industry needs your products so much?
Rolf Manser: If we compare the card industry with other industries that we are active in, we recognize that the card market is developing very rapidly. A component of this development is the need to produce more sophisticated and therefore more costly cards; this is especially true in the ID and smart card business. We recognize that the use of more durable materials is increasingly important to expand the life span of these expensive cards. Producing these cards is the specific reason that we developed our CCS-310 system. A lot of card manufacturers are working hard to get various materials “married”. As a result, the cutting process of card sheets is much more difficult. Naturally, this is a trend is to our advantage because Blumer has been an innovator throughout its history and in a field where there is already strong competition for established technologies; our innovations set the new standard and separate us from the rest of the field.
Who are the other card-related vendors in which you would engage in a partnership with or are seeking an opportunity with?
Rolf Manser: Today customers are asking for complete solutions. As a relatively small machine manufacturer we aren’t able to offer “everything” to our customers. However, we concentrate on our core competence in order to provide the most innovative and progressive solutions for the card cutting process. Of course we are always in close contact with the leading equipment providers, both down and upstream from our machines. In cooperation with them we are able to offer complete and customized solutions. We strongly believe that the greatest benefit and pay back for a customer comes from the “best in class” vendors who provide state of the art technology rather then the oversized “one stop shop” that may provide only very basic or average technology. Advanced technologies allow the card manufacturer the ability to set the standard and lead the market insuring long-term success; everyone else simply follows.
Did your company seek any geographical expansion for the last 3 years? What about the next 3 years?
Rolf Manser: After celebrating last year the tenth anniversary of our North American facility, Blumer USA, we have primarily focused on the Asia/Pacific market. With the start-up of Blumer Asia Pacific Ltd. two years ago, we have an ideal position for future grow in that area. Additionally, we continue to expand and strengthen our network of agents all over the world. Our agents are local business partners with strong ties to their business communities and possess current knowledge of business trends and needs. They work primarily for us as “sensors” in their markets. With the potential in the Asian market we have plans on how we will take care of this and other developing markets, however at this point it’s too early to talk in public about it.
Share with us a couple of your valuable clients' testimonials.
Rolf Manser: “he was very, very good and is one of the best persons I have ever met. It was indeed a pleasure to have him in…..” that’s a statement we recently received from one of our customers in India. Of course it’s always very nice to get such feedback. My impression is that customers always expect a reliable machine that performances as promised, that is understandably the standard of their expectations. However we realize that after the sale, technical support, the after sales service is increasingly important and where a machine manufacturer lives or dies. The people that stand behind and support a technology are crucial to our customer’s success and that is exactly the area where we get a great deal of very positive customer feedback. Although we started to put customers testimonials onto our web site, we unfortunately found that many of our customers aren’t eager to find their feedback on the Internet. Understandably, when they have a technological advantage it is in their best interest to protect that advantage and hope that their competitors don’t quickly learn how they have been so successful. Maybe they are right; the positive issues can only be hidden for a certain time than the forces of business and progress quickly level the playing field.