Durst acquires majority stake in Vanguard Digital Printing

Durst’s acquisition of US printer manufacturer

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Christoph Gamper, CEO, and co-owner of the Durst Group Photo Durst
Christoph Gamper, CEO, and co-owner of the Durst Group Photo Durst

Brixen, Italy, 10/01/2020 – Durst, manufacturer of advanced digital printing and production technologies, is strengthening its position in the US Graphics Industry with the acquisition of a majority stake in Vanguard Digital Printing Systems, headquartered in Lawrenceville, Georgia in the southeastern United States.

Vanguard Digital is a leading manufacturer of printing systems for the signage, decoration, corporate, industrial, and packaging sectors. With the acquisition, Durst adds new printer classes to its large-format portfolio. At the same time, Vanguard now has a global distribution and service network and technical resources to continue developing robust solutions.

Tim Saur, president of Durst North America Photo Durst
Tim Saur, president of Durst North America Photo Durst

“Vanguard Digital Printing Systems is a rapidly growing and very successful company in a customer segment in which we are currently not active,” said Tim Saur, president of Durst North America. “Through the combination of high-quality products, a strong management team and absolute customer orientation, both companies are a perfect match.”

Dave Cich, CEO of the new Vanguard Durst Digital Printing Systems Photo Durst
Dave Cich, CEO of the new Vanguard Durst Digital Printing Systems Photo Durst

As part of the agreement, the new company will operate as Vanguard Durst Digital Printing Systems with effect from 1 October 2020. David Cich remains CEO while Jim Peterson continues to serve as vice president of Sales. “It is with great humbleness and excitement that Vanguard Digital will now be a part of the world-class industry-leading Durst Group,” said David Cich, CEO of Vanguard Digital Printing Systems. “Becoming part of the Durst Group Family provides Vanguard Digital the opportunity to expand its portfolio of innovative market-leading UV Printers to the entire world.”

“Vanguard’s printing systems have rightly achieved rapid growth and high customer acceptance in the North American market,” said Christoph Gamper, CEO, and co-owner of the Durst Group. “Despite the global pandemic, we are positioning ourselves for the long term and are determined to invest in the large-format graphics market. In addition, with our technical expertise, Vanguard will continue to ensure that its products and services are industry-leading and a wider customer base will understand what it is like to be part of the Durst family.”

Our view – consolidation, geographic, and segment expansion

Durst is present in India through its company known as Durst India that sells inkjet output devices to ceramic tile, wide-format signage, label, and digital textile printers through its local sales partner Ceradecor. Its website says that Durst is continuing its global development with a joint venture in India venture with Ceradecor. The new enterprise, VetroCER, is based in Greater Noida in the New Delhi national capital region and was set up in collaboration with Ceradecor to manufacture ceramic and glass inks. As of 2015, Durst had installed more than 40 Durst Gamma Ceramic Printers in the country.

Durst’s photographic and typographic tradition

As an old printer and prepress color specialist, I recall Durst from the days when its enlargers were used for color separation with filters on panchromatic film and to enlarge and halftone color separations utilizing a contact screen. Those were complicated days, and it was partly because the Durst enlarger was so expensive in India in the 1970s that we pioneered the use of contact screens within the output drum of the second hand Hell C296 color scanner we had.

Happily, Durst is one of the European companies that has survived the computerization of print. (We thought it was a German company, and there is a strong Munich connection but it’s a company of the South Tyrol founded in what was known as Bressanone, now Brixen, and found its financial backers, the Oberrauch family in Bolzano.)

As an early and agile adopter of laser, inkjet, and technology, in general, it is thriving and growing. It is a company that has always paid attention to product design and has its own typeface. Design became an even more important factor in equipment creation as Otto ‘Otl’ Aicher, founder of the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, handled Durst’s corporate design, creating a new typeface, coding colors, and the grayscale. At the same time, he created a new typeface, which he called Rotis, and made it the Durst typeface.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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