Sunil Gupta has undergone a baptism of fire as CEO of Memjet. He did not seek the job, receiving the appointment when influential CEO Len Lauer died suddenly. And then he has had Covid-19 and all that that means to contend with, including the postponement of Drupa.
But after 40 years in print, almost all of them with Xerox, Gupta has has the tools for survival. He began alongside the 9700, arguably the first true digital press, took charge of Xerox’s OEM relationships, before heading to Asia and culminated in 2016 in running the FujiXerox operation in Australia before leaving in May 2018. He joined the Memjet board in January 2019, becoming its CEO on 13 April this year.
“I am not a complete stranger to print,” he says.
The experience with digital print, with OEMs and in Asia all stand him good stead for the next phase of Memjet’s development. It had planned a substantial presence at Drupa, with 10 OEM partners to share its stand and another 15-20 OEMs present at the show with numerous machines that would be “powered by Memjet”.
Most would have included the Duraflex printheads for single pass printing at limited cost and improved performance over the Versapass models that established its reputation. DuraFlex will be used in label presses in particular. The DuraLink is a powerful single colour page wide printhead suited to mission critical print operations. And there is more, Gupta promising significant application announcements “very, very soon”.
It is difficult to know how the various OEMs that deploy the Memjet technology in the systems that are developing, are responding to the crisis and the extent to which they have delayed or accelerated their own plans.
“Currently it is a very uncertain environment with different sectors developing in different directions. No one really knows. Some sectors have been severely hit, some are growing because of the crisis. Some label production is 50% higher led by healthcare and food. Some consumers are happy to receive mail, others are less comfortable receiving mail, which has hit demand for addressing.”
Memjet, he says, is helping its OEM customers with marketing and sales support in order to keep the flow of inquiries coming.
Ultimately as things settle, Memjet should find itself in a strong position. The swing towards work from home, and even for security in an office, is driving demand for personal printers, perhaps powered by Memjet page wide print technology.
“People will demand a more personal experience. This will mean that print companies will need to deliver short runs and affordable, eco friendly print which is where Memjet comes in,” says Gupta. “We are extremely eco friendly, very fast and print very high quality – all requirements going forwards. This is good for Memjet.”
Work from home affected Memjet’s own operations as people were physically distanced from its laboratories in southern California. The company quickly came up with the Memjet Cloud Services, which has allowed the company to carry out installation and training remotely and to allow engineers to gain access to the device to diagnose and perhaps fix problems.
Says Gupta: “We wish there had been no Covid-19, but we are coming out of it as a much stronger business.”