Now, first of all I should point out that I still have many friends in Esko with whom I talk regularly and I thoroughly enjoyed my 8 1/2 years with the ‘green machine’. I started there as a Purup Eskofot regional sales manager selling CtP and workflow into commercial print (remember PlateDriver??). My biggest daily challenge at that time was getting secretaries at the other end of the phone to understand the name Purup Eskofot (oh, how life would have been simpler if I had been with Creo, Agfa or Screen!) – “Purup Esofot, let me spell it out to you P… U… R… U…”
By the end of my tenure at Esko, the company had morphed into an almost entirely packaging oriented business and I was the European Corporate Account Manager taking care of sales to a number of European and Global packaging corporations. Quite a big change, but a challenge that I both relished and enjoyed. I still admire the company but most especially the vision and drive of some of the people within their business – I could mention a few of those people but one who always springs to mind (and in my opinion epitomises the company) is Frank Adegeest. I always enjoyed working with Frank and I was always amazed by his vision and drive.
You will notice that I have refrained from using the name ‘EskoArtwork’ which I know is a bit wrong of me. However, there was always a part of me that found that the Artwork term just didn’t sit right in the title – it made it seem like the company was some kind of reprographics supplier; which it quite clearly isn’t. So I always rebelled against the word, but that leads me quite nicely on to the point of this blog – the ‘Artwork’ originates from Artwork Systems which Esko bought back in the summer of 2007 and clearly the ex-Artwork Systems management were reluctant to lose their identity – thus Esko’Artwork’ was born.
I remember that time very clearly. It was as much of a shock to us Esko people as it was, I am sure, to the Artwork Systems people. These two fierce rivals were now one entity with parallel product ranges but very different business approaches. All of a sudden two deadly enemies were sitting in the same offices together as the Artwork Systems office in Gent was hastily wound down and everyone joined together at Esko HQ in Kortrijksesteenweg.
At the time there was surprise in the packaging community that the European commission did not object in any way to the deal on the basis of the possible monopolisation of this area of the industry. However, everything was given the green light and it guaranteed that EskoArtwork took an extremely large majority share of the packaging pre-media market. The company still dominates in this arena with products like Nexus, Backstage, ArtPro, DeskPack, etc. being de facto standards for the specialised area of packaging pre-media. And so to my question – one that has been on my mind for some time. Is there anyone out there who is looking to make a dent in this majority share? After all, one dominant player in a business is never deemed healthy for any market. So is there anyone coming up on the rails to threaten Esko’s (sorry missed out the Artwork again!) dominance.
In fact Esko reminds me of Usain Bolt in the 100 Metres – they think that someone is right behind them breathing down their neck, but when they get near the line and look over their shoulder they realise that they have almost no competition at all!
Author: Sean Runchman
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