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Interview With

Karl Fritchen

Jo Golding speaks to Karl Fritchen, president of BALDWIN Vision Systems, who answers acquisition questions and how the change will have a positive impact on the print industry

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Long-term employees take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of BALDWIN’s new headquarters in Waukesha, US

A change for the better

Is QuadTech being dissolved or reduced now that it has been acquired by BALDWIN Technology Company?

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.

BALDWIN Technology Company, and parent company BW Forsyth Partners, recognised the potential of adding QuadTech to its portfolio of print technology solutions, combining talents and capabilities with PC Industries and WPC. BALDWIN’s aggressive overall strategy required a component with colour management, register control, and inspection solutions—making these acquisitions a perfect fit for the business.

Karl Fritchen, president of BALDWIN Vision Systems, says the company has started a new life as “one new print technology powerhouse”

For QuadTech, being part of a larger organization means more diverse technical capabilities under one company umbrella. We can now offer higher volume, and a wider variety of options that fit our customers’ processes and budget. Our product offerings are now stronger and more complete, and we have already won new business with our new combined offering. However, for us, this is just the beginning! Moving forward, we are focused on aligning and expanding our technologies into the strongest offering in the global market.

Moving forward, we are focused on aligning and expanding our technologies into the strongest offering in the global market

How will your customers, or the industry as a whole, 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 - and that capability is going to expand! This will provide customers and prospects with a more streamlined, coherent solution from one leading supplier, better equipping the industry to meet demand for accurate and increased quality control within the shortest possible timeframe.

(L to R) John Woolley, Herman Gnuechtel, Brent Becker and Karl Fritchen

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 footprint, our customers can now benefit from a much stronger product portfolio that’s available to more markets, through more offices, agents, and service operations.

What do you see as BALDWIN Vision Systems’ key market advantage?

In addition to the financial backing and global platform of a large and growing organisation, we bring several advantages that competitors can’t match. As I’ve mentioned, this new combination of market-leading companies creates a much stronger product portfolio and a more solid global footprint for commercial, newspaper and packaging markets.

For all printers, we also act as valuable 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 printers and brand owners alike on solutions that meet brands’ exacting 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. This provides a great opportunity for printers, as our products complement each other far more than they compete. This will give printers the ability to choose between multiple options in a product class and select the option that best fits their specific need and budget.

For example, in newspaper and commercial printing applications, BALDWIN Visions Systems not only offers standalone colour-to-colour registration and colour control systems, but also combined functionality from the same camera, if needed. Additionally, customers can choose between RGB-based or spectral-based colour control, depending upon process and customer requirements.

In late 2017, QuadTech was acquired by BALDWIN Technology Company Inc.

In packaging applications, our combined product portfolio includes options for offset, flexo, gravure, 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—as well as sheet-fed applications. Furthermore, we offer connected tools across pre-press, production and post-press workflows that help our customers monitor and manage much more than just the print process—but also their inks, job data, production quality and reports.

Is new product development 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 optimising existing presses to help printers compete. 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!

Our focus remains the same: innovating and delivering world-class colour measurement and management, registration and vision system technologies. By combining engineering talent and expertise, and with the infusion of more financial resources, we plan to expand automation capabilities to include and connect other workflows within print operations.

What are your objectives for the future of BALDWIN Vision Systems?

To summarise, BALDWIN Technology Company purchased QuadTech to offer a complete product portfolio to the market that will enable them to aggressively pursue a larger share of the global print technology market. These goals align with my own objectives for BALDWIN Vision Systems and the part we will play in realising this wider strategy as one new print technology powerhouse.

BALDWIN has a strong desire to be a force in the packaging and converting markets, where QuadTech has already been dev-eloping important technology innovations

The important components that QuadTech brings to BALDWIN are expertise in colour management and register control, a robust set of solutions, and a well-established 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 important technology innovations. 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. It’s an exciting time for us, our customers and the wider industry!

Key Company Stats

  • QuadTech was acquired by BALDWIN Technology Company Inc. in 2017
  • The company is expanding from 5 to 21 locations worldwide
  • BALDWIN Vision Systems’ headquarters was completed in May 2018
  • Parts for discontinued products will be made available for 7 to 10 years

For the full interview go to www.printmonthly.co.uk and search ‘Fritchen’.

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