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Lois Lebegue, managing director, ALMA Region and vice president, Eastman Kodak Company, outlines his perspective of industry trends and future during visit.

 

 

Our guest writer Lois Lebegue vice president of East Kodak outlines his vision of Kodak in the Middle East region

 

You’ve recently been placed in charge of the ALMA (Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa) region. What prompted this new grouping??

We’ve come to realise that there are certain traits that are common to these markets; traits such as entrepreneurship, aggressiveness and the need for value proposition. These are common traits of growing markets, and do not fit in with the behaviour seen in mature markets. This is why we have now restructured the company to group these regions together. It would be safe to say that together the ALMA region represents roughly 40% of Kodak’s growth. 

In addition to this redesign, we have also cut down the layers in the organisation, because we’re modelling Kodak into a company that is very close to its customers. 

 

According to Kodak, your Sonora XP Process Free Plates are doing well in the region – do you think this is because the region’s printers are environmentally conscious?

The Sonora Plates hold quite an interesting position when it comes to people’s wallets, minds and hearts. With respect to their wallets, the Sonora Plates remove the processing step, and therefore eliminate costs associated with this step in terms of electricity, water and manpower. 

Next, sometimes the time printers have between the moment they receive a file and the moment hey have to deliver the final product can be limited. Sonora Plates eliminate that one extra step for them, which saves time, and that’s why it’s the logical choice. With the Sonora Plates, you take the plate out of the box, you put it in the CTP, it gets out and you have it in the press. That’s it. No gumming or washing. 10 pages later, you have your first saleable prints going out. 

And lastly, yes, more and more people, whether they are printers, end users or governments, are more focussed on creating a greener world. The first thing everyone thinks is cost and efficiency – no one is interested in shelling out more money than they should be or purchasing a product that isn’t good enough or fast enough. Once those clauses are satisfied, why not make the responsible choice?

 

Another trend in the Middle East’s print industry is that companies are now selling service as a product, or are at least planning to in the future. What about Kodak?

The beauty of Kodak is we have been selling service from the very beginning. We don’t make a big fuss about it; what counts for us is that our customers are happy. To us, service can be helping printers manage their logistics, so that they can reach optimal production levels, service can be helping them find the right software that increases their efficiency, or service can be helping them train their operators.We also guide our customers towards the right products. For example, at Kodak, we have a very clear policy to only sell the Nexpress digital production color presses to printers that have the volumes to sustain it – it is not acceptable to us to install our equipment, get a cheque and run. That is not how we operate. The Nexpress Press holds great value for Kodak because it is a very versatile solution for printers: it can support short runs, it produces high quality prints, and on top of that, it allows for a lot of speciality printing. But that is only if it is in the hands of the right user. And we make sure that it is.

 

How do you envision the Kodak’s future?

This is a typical question we ask ourselves – and everyone in the company has a different answer, which is good, because it’s not conducive to creativity if everyone has the exact same idea. 

We always ask ourselves, what sort of company will Kodak be for its customers? What do we want to bring them in ten years that is different from what we bring them today? At Kodak, with our B2P (‘business to people’) operations, we strive to provide our customers and our partners with three values to help them succeed in their businesses: innovation, quality and productivity. And no matter how things evolve, we have no intention of shifting focus away from those values. 

We have a lot of core strengths in the company: our innovations, our network of partners and customers and our people. But an extraordinary strength we have is our brand, which inspires loyalty.