Memjet CEO Sunil Gupta Discusses Len Lauer's Death and the Impact of COVID-19
Following the sudden, unexpected passing of Memjet Chairman and CEO Len Lauer on April 13, 2020, at age 62, Sunil Gupta — a member of its board of directors — was named Memjet CEO. Now that he has been in that role for two months, Packaging Impressions' sister brand Printing Impressions checked in with Gupta to see how things are going, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the company, its OEM partners, and their end users.
Printing Impressions: This has been a difficult time for Memjet. Can you talk about what the past couple of months have been like for you and the organization?
Sunil Gupta: When Len Lauer died in April, Memjet’s team of 400 employees lost a friend, a mentor, and a leader. It has been a sad and emotional time for Memjet employees located around the world. We were grieving, and because we are all in social isolation, we could only join together virtually to share our grief.
I was fortunate to have known Len for a long time and to have worked alongside him when I joined Memjet’s board of directors in 2019. His leadership legacy and the people, processes, and culture he developed during his tenure enable our organization to move forward with determination. I know that is what Len would have wanted.
The Memjet team has been a great support to me, and I am grateful to each of them as I learn and grow in this role. I am humbled and privileged to be the next CEO of Memjet and appreciate the trust and confidence the board has placed in me.
PI: Please tell us a bit about your background?
Gupta: My experience in printing industry spans the past four decades. Like the industry itself, my work has grown and evolved. From 2016 to 2018, I was managing director of the largest Fuji Xerox sales entity, Fuji Xerox Australia. I also served on the Fuji Xerox Australia board of directors during this time.
Before joining Fuji Xerox Australia, I served as managing director of Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific, Malaysia. And before that, I was president and CEO of Xerox International Partners for 10 years.
I joined Memjet’s Board of Directors in January of 2019. And today, with the full confidence of the Memjet Board of Directors and its senior leadership team, I am carrying on Lauer’s legacy of courage, collaboration, and commitment to all stakeholders.
PI: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Memjet operations?
Gupta: Over the years, Memjet has put extensive resources into ensuring our offices, global production facilities, and warehouses work together in a coordinated way. This effort ensures that our OEM partners can receive the technology, components, and support they need when they need it.
As people across the globe were asked to shelter in place, we sped up the development of Memjet Cloud Services. This service enables us to offer customers remote support for installation, training, and diagnostics. We have even used our Cloud Services to support the installation of large, complex print solutions. This comprehensive program ensures higher productivity and uptime for our customers, and will continue to play a vital role in moving forward.
PI: How has the pandemic impacted your OEM partners?
Gupta: As I noted, our global teams are working closely with OEMs to ensure the timely delivery of printing solutions. Still, this is an unprecedented event, and this pandemic has impacted development schedules and altered marketing plans for Memjet and our OEM partners.
So, while we had hoped to announce several solutions in the early part of 2020, many Powered by Memjet solutions will now be available later in 2020 and for drupa 2021.
From a marketing standpoint, we have implemented a “Stimulus Program” with many of our partners. We’re providing marketing and sales support to keep their pipelines flowing so they can respond as the economy recovers.
We look forward to the fall events – in whatever form they take – to launch new Powered by Memjet solutions.
PI: What do you think the impact of COVID-19 will be on the printing industry?
Gupta: This pandemic is an unprecedented event, one with an uncertain ending. While there are various projections on when the industry will return, we do not have all the answers. One thing is for sure: the pandemic will change the way we live and work, and these changes will impact the printing industry.
For now, we see less printing happening during the pandemic. But it is clear that the impact of the pandemic varies by market. Demand for mailing and addressing, for example, has dropped temporarily, while demand for labels has increased demand for packaged food and pharmaceuticals.
Packaging is experiencing mixed results. The packaging market experienced some initial decline when the pandemic first struck. But packaging is expected to make a strong rebound, as demand for e-commerce goods skyrockets during social isolation – and beyond.
In uncertain markets like this, printers will be reluctant to make significant capital investments in big printing solutions. The market will need access to affordable solutions with the speed, quality, and eco-friendliness required to meet new market opportunities.
Memjet’s printing technology is giving OEMs the resources and simplicity they need to create printing solutions that can help providers move forward.
PI: How will inkjet printing support printers in this “new normal?”
Gupta: Memjet technologies (VersaPass, DuraLink, and DuraFlex) deliver higher resolution, higher speeds, and lower costs than have ever been possible with inkjet printing.
Moreover, the modular nature of this technology speeds up the development time for our OEM partners. This faster development time means OEMs can get their printing solutions to market quicker and more affordability – essential features in an uncertain market.
As more OEM partners around the globe use this technology, the market can expect to see a new breed of printing solutions that can meet the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
These Powered by Memjet print solutions have a lower barrier to entry than more expensive and complicated printers while producing high-quality, beautiful output at resolutions as high as 1,600 dpi. These affordable solutions let providers leverage the value of production inkjet to expand their businesses into areas including labeling, packaging, and industrial printing.
Other than humans, technology is the only other thing that continues to evolve. These are challenging times to be sure. However, I am confident that technology, combined with the resilience of those who work in the industry, will create new print opportunities in a post-COVID world.