Rolf Manser in Card Manufacturing, Issue May/June 2007
With this column, readers get to know selected ICMA members better.
This issue’s interview is with Rolf Manser, vice president of sales for Blumer. Rolf is responsible for the worldwide sales for Blumer. In addition to the sales responsibility he is also responsible for the After Sales Service. This is quite unusual for the industry; however this kind of set-up serves Blumer well, because the reaction time is much shorter in most cases. In addition to his position at Blumer Switzerland, Rolf is also on the Board of Blumer (USA) Inc. and Blumer Asia Pacific.
Blumer is a small family owned Swiss manufacturing firm, with over one hundred years of experience as a machine manufacturer and has developed a reputation for uncompromised excellence in product, service and support. They are recognized as the world leader in label die cutting, straight cutting and banding equipment. That same expertise has contributed to their innovative systems for both high volume and high value cards. Their ability to process materials from Polycarbonate to laminated paper results from their unique approach to cutting cards, which is establishing a new standard for quantity and quality. Further Blumer looks to develop lasting relationships with their customers that allow them to grow, prosper and benefit from the appropriate application of technology.
When Rolf first entered the industry, he started with sales in various trading products for the printing and packaging industry. After only a few years he got the chance to change to international sales and was responsible for the eastern European market. In 1996, he made a bold move and relocated his whole family to the US in order to start up their own sales, marketing and service company in the United States. After his return in 2000, he got promoted to the actual position at Blumer Switzerland.
Eight years ago, Blumer had a brilliant revelation when they realized that the machine range designed for label production would be ideal for scratch, loyalty and gift cards. Within a short period they were able to sell a significant number of fully and semi automated machines into the market. The achieved performance combined with the edge quality and their expertise in punching was the apparent reason they were being approached by leading European card manufacturers to develop a solution capable to cut Polycarbonate and other difficult to handle material combination.
Over the course of Rolf’s highly successful career in the card industry, one particular accomplishment remains the highlight of his career; the successful start up of Blumer (USA) Inc. From the beginning Blumer’s operation in the US was profitable and capable to build up a profound customer base in America. Blumer also put a great deal of effort into the after sales service, and feels pride that their US operation is currently being managed by an American.
“To be involved in the launch of the CCS 310 Card Cutting System was certainly another milestone for the company as well as for me personally. To see that because of a new technology we were able to set new standards in the industry makes us very proud,” Rolf commented on another career milestone.
Blumer’s products continue to set industry standards, as in just the past year they brought two new and innovative products into the market that were sold before they left the design department. They accredit this successful introduction to their industry reputation and previous record of accomplishments.
“It’s always a highlight whenever you sell the first machine into a new market. This was once again the case when we received an order for multiple machines for Iran, a machine for Sudan as well as two automated line for the Caribbean,” said Rolf.
Being a small technology provider in the large arena of global business, Blumer is constantly adapting to change. Recently, Blumer has been doing more direct business in order to serve the customer more efficiently. This has caused significant changes in some areas of their sales channels. Blumer hopes the end result will financially benefit their customers, who appreciate the individual attention.
“Every day is full of risks… I don’t even count them any more. I trust that people who are not willing to carry a certain portion of risk shouldn’t be in a management position. Of course it’s also the job of the management to be careful with this topic and to minimize it whenever possible,” said Rolf.
Blumer has been an ICMA member since 2003. Blumer is also an active Member of ELMA (European Association for the wet Glue Labelling Industry) as well as the LPIA (Label Printing Industry of America), as the label industry is also very important for them. Since joining ICMA, Rolf has attended every annual EXPO, as well as the European Academy Workshops. Rolf particularly enjoys the EXPO and exhibits as he feels they are an ideal platform to show, share and discuss the latest developments with the specialized audience.
Blumer reaps the benefits of ICMA membership and especially appreciates all the networking opportunities. They were able to meet a lot of the key industry people at ICMA events within a short period. This was very important for Blumer since they were new in the card business.
“It’s a great platform to meet customers, and other suppliers. Such a change of views, scheduled on a regular basis, is certainly beneficial for everybody involved in the industry,” said Rolf.
“My first one was the EXPO in Cancun. Certainly an unforgettable conference and a good experience to meet potential customers in a great and relaxing environment,” said Rolf about his favourite ICMA event.
Rolf was born in the beautiful area of Lake Zurich, Switzerland. He currently resides in downtown Zurich in order to be close to the factory and airport, as he has a demanding travel schedule.
A fanatical skier, Rolf rejuvenates from a busy travelling schedule outdoors. Rolf enjoys skiing un-groomed terrain or free ride areas, mountain biking, climbing and trekking. Rolf’s latest trek was Kilimanjaro and he is setting his sights on even higher mountains in Nepal and hopes to achieve this goal by the end of the year.
Rolf applies his “going to the edge motto” to his personal life as well as business.