Fremont, CA 94555
Sales: $790M for EFI at the corporate level; Ink World estimates $110 million in ink and consumables.
Major Products: EFI has one of the graphic arts industry’s broadest inkjet portfolios with VUTEk, Jetrion and EFI Wide Format printers and presses. That portfolio has also made EFI the market leader in UV inkjet inks for the superwide format, wide format (e.g., billboards, signage, POP, etc.) and narrow web label printing markets. EFI offers a wide range of ink products for wide /superwide format and industrial inkjet markets, including UV, UV LED and solvent inks.
Key Personnel: Guy Gecht, CEO; Marc Olin, COO and interim CFO; Ghilad Dziesietnik, CTO; Frank Mallozzi, SVP, worldwide sales and marketing; Scott Schinlever, SVP/GM, EFI Inkjet Solutions.
Number of Employees: Approximately 2,500.
Operating Facilities: 23 worldwide offices.
Comments: Electronics For Imaging, Inc. (EFI) is a global leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, with strong positions in digital printers (VUTEk and Jetrion printers), digital workflow systems (Fiery front end products) and inks. EFI had another strong year in 2014, with overall sales increasing 9% to $790 million. On the ink side, EFI shipped out more than a million liters of ink for the third year in a row.
Stephen Emery, VP, Ink and Jetrion Industrial Inkjet businesses for EFI, said that EFI had a strong 2014, and, even though print in the U.S. is a more mature market domestically compared to some other countries, EFI saw remarkable growth.
“We also fared well internationally, although we faced some significant challenges that come from being a U.S.-based company operating on a global basis,” Emery added. “EFI’s total revenues for 2014 were up 9%, but even that growth came despite the impact that a stronger U.S. dollar had on our business.
“The strong dollar limited our overall sales growth numbers – even in instances where we had high unit sales for the year – because of negative currency effects,” Emery added. “Still, we stayed extremely focused on delivering great solutions for our customers last year, and I think that’s the number one reason we were able to meet analyst expectations for company performance even in the face of the currency issue.”
EFI’s VUTEk, wide format and Jetrion inkjet product lines, and the ink consumables business that supports them, were some of the best-performing parts of the company in 2014.
“Their performance last year made up for the weakness EFI saw in a fourth inkjet product line, Cretaprint – a ceramics/tile printing technology that has been effected by a slowdown in construction, especially in key markets like China,” Emery reported. “Cretaprint was primarily a hardware business for us in 2014 – we are just now bringing our own ink for that segment to market – so as construction demand turns around in the future, we will have a compelling ink product to grow with that market.”
Emery said that there are large numbers of traditional offset, flexo and screenprinting firms that are investing in inkjet print technologies.
“Among the industry segments we target, we absolutely saw improvement,” Emery noted. “Both as a leading UV and LED printer manufacturer and as the industry’s leading provider of workflow systems, we are building more automation and efficiencies into our product offering, so our customers are printing more because they have a lower total cost of operation for their inkjet production lines.”
One of these growth areas is LED curing.
“LED inkjet was the fastest-growing ink technology for the business and, in terms of vertical market segments, our Jetrion business continued to outpace our aggressive expectations,” Emery reported. “That said, our wide and superwide format inkjet products did exceptionally well. That market has expended well beyond the traditional customer – screenprint signage shops – into print operations of all types, so there is a proliferation and demand there that deserves and will receive EFI’s dedicated attention.
“We continue to see the trend where customers can print more, and do so profitably, when they switch from traditional UV inkjet to ‘cool cure’ LED inkjet,” Emery added. “Our LED inkjet printers have an incredible range in the types of jobs they can produce, and we can tell from the continued annual growth in LED inkjet ink volumes that our customers are moving more work to LED and winning new business that they did not have before.”
To support the LED market, EFI brought LED inkjet into the entry-level segment of the graphics production market with the 64-inch, hybrid roll/flatbed EFI H1625 LED printer. It launched at the ISA International Sign Expo last April with a list price of about $125,000, and it immediately became EFI’s top-selling printer.
In September, EFI hit two important milestones. First, EFI passed the 200-installation mark in its installed base of EFI Jetrion narrow web presses. Second, EFI launched its ceramic inkjet inks.
“Narrow web inkjet is a competitive market with lots of digital and analog technology providers trying to make an impact in the field, but the milestone we reached last year underscores the success we’ve had with Jetrion as the clear leader in inkjet narrow web space,” Emery observed. “Also in September, we introduced our new ceramic inkjet inks, which will of course be an important part to our future growth strategy with our Cretaprint business.”
The acquisition of key intellectual property assets for digital inkjet printing of thermoformed products from Polymeric Imaging, a specialist provider of UV and LED inks for industrial and graphic arts applications, was also an important move for EFI.
“One of the biggest highlights of the year specific to our ink operations was the October 2014 intellectual property acquisition deal EFI completed with Polymeric Imaging,” Emery said. “We acquired some unique and patented technology that we were licensing before. The deal gives us more leeway to continue developing digitally printed inkjet thermoforming applications that will differentiate EFI. It is the type of technology that creates new business for printing companies in product manufacturing niches where printing does not play right now, so it is an exciting opportunity for us and for the companies we serve.”
Regulatory pressures are reaching the digital printing segment, and EFI is taking steps to meet these regulatory changes.
“Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in regulations and changes by organizations such as REACH and the new GHS (Global Harmonization System),” said Emery. “Our Environmental Health and Safety team constantly monitors these changes and ensures we comply with the new regulations.”
For EFI, Emery reported that the raw materials situation is good, as the company has strong relationships with its raw materials suppliers, who see the potential for EFI’s continued growth.
“They do a tremendous job supporting our Ypsilanti, MI, inkjet ink operations,” said Emery. “Many of them are excited about the future opportunities they have working with EFI because of the increased volume of ink we are manufacturing for existing customers, and because of the promising new markets we are entering with formulations for thermoforming and ceramic decoration.”
Emery said that EFI is optimistic about 2015 based on the success its customers continue to see with EFI’s inkjet products.
“The movement in the market we have seen in entry-level production LED inkjet with our H1625 product in particular is a very positive sign for continuing growth,” he said. “A few years ago, our CEO, Guy Gecht, set an ambitious goal for EFI to reach $1 billion in revenues by the end of 2016, and as of our most recent fiscal year, we are on pace to meet that goal. It will take a lot of focused and dedicated work helping our customers, but I’m confident we have the teams in place to get us past the finish line.”