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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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