In the EFI exhibit (Booth 2602), visitors can see no fewer than eight solutions on display that have won MUST SEE ’EMs recognition at the show. Those are a lot of awards—and they’re no accident. A perennial winner, EFI brought home five MUST SEE ’EMs from GRAPH EXPO 2012 and earned two in 2011, when it also received honors for nine of the competition’s now discontinued WORTH-A-LOOK runners-up.
On average, the Foster City, CA, firm reinvests 20% of its revenues back into R&D efforts, reports CEO Guy Gecht, who takes these wins very seriously. “That’s $2,000 out of every $10,000,” Gecht points out, adding that most R&D reinvestments are in the single digits. “Two to four percent is typical, even for bigger companies,” he notes.
Some 40% of EFI’s workforce is engineers or scientists. “We have roughly 1,000 people with technical degrees who are passionate about innovation that matters for our customers,” Gecht says proudly, adding that the firm recruits and hires “the best” people in a given category, citing color management as an example. And these employees are aware of awards such as the MUST SEE ’EMs, which Gecht reportedly first began talking up back in January. After all, winning awards is a conscientious decision at EFI.
“The recognitions from the judges are rewarding for our team,” Gecht says. “But, it is another sign that the new products we create can have a significant, positive impact on our customers’ businesses. Our focus is to make our customers more competitive. We have small and mid-size printers, including family owners, relying on us to come up with faster, better, cheaper solutions. They’re under a lot of pressure.”
EFI prides itself on being a good listener. Rather than “wasting time in internal meetings,” Gecht encourages senior managers to spend time meeting with customers to hear firsthand about their struggles. The annual EFI Connect conference is another key sounding board, he says. “Then we challenge R&D and our product guys to break down barriers,” the CEO concludes. “We tell them, ‘Think of a new category and go build it.’” Such out-of-the-box thinking is woven deep into the corporate culture. As for winning, that’s merely a byproduct.