CEO Buroform on printing under pressure

Published by:
Bloovi studio

Print is not dead, but it must do its best to survive: that’s pretty much the consensus on the print industry. Jesse Marynen of Buroform agrees that it is hard work, but as self-proclaimed new generation print experts, they do look for and find new and promising opportunities within their organization. Which is not obvious when you know that a new printing machine costs two million euros and has to run at high volumes….

Jesse Marynen, CEO of Buroform (© NDPhotography)

Jesse Marynen started in his father’s print shop 11 years ago in the production department, moving on from there to administration and, through sales, eventually becoming chief print officer, which amounts to running the print shop. “I’m very grateful for that process – although it wasn’t always fun because, after all, you’re climbing a ladder – and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way because I learned in a very direct way how much is involved in printing. We recently hired a new sales person who is not from the industry. When that one got a tour of the print shop, she drew big eyes (laughs).”

With the briefcase under the arm

“At that time, as a sales representative, I literally went skimming company sites with the briefcase under my arm, presenting our showcase everywhere,” he recounts of that period. “It’s unimaginable that this was only six years ago, because something like this just doesn’t work today: after all, you shouldn’t force your product and showcase on the customer, you should first and foremost listen to what that customer needs. But that was my naive enthusiasm at the time: the more contacts I make, the more likely someone will bite (laughs).

“When I became my father’s right-hand man at one point, the focus was also mainly on acquisitions, in order to bring in new and cross-media technology – it was that or be acquired myself. Thus, in a short period of time we succeeded in becoming a printing company with more impact, because the market of artisanal printing was under pressure due to digitalization and the emergence of web shops where you can easily order printing yourself.

“When I became my father’s right-hand man, the focus was primarily on acquisitions in order to bring in new and cross-media technology – it was that or be acquired myself”

On the other hand, it was also a rather painful, but very interesting learning experience, because we simply made so many acquisitions at that time – we grew from 14 to 70 people in a short time – that in time we began to neglect Buroform itself. It has only increased my admiration for corporates that manage to make acquisitions and structure and blend that well. Because for us, that was very difficult.”

Alternative to fast food communication

Consequently, three to four years ago, Buroform decided to reposition itself as a brand and look at print differently. “We wanted to stop focusing on what we do and start focusing on why we do it. And the answer to that was: create added value and impact through premium printing. It’s up to us to convince clients of what quality print can do for their brand: literally a feeling, a tangible sensation that lingers much longer than an article you read online. Our big challenge then is to make sure that our client’s target audience retains and remembers the printed material just a little bit longer than that of its competitors.”

This focus on quality is also a consequence of changed communications: having a million trade brochures printed and distributed simply doesn’t work anymore, and what’s more, these brochures are nowadays simply distributed online. Less but better meat, says Hendrik Dierendonck. Less but better printing, we say. The best alternative to today’s fast food communications. Take just the simple example of a name card: we like to suggest to the customer that it be printed on slightly heavier paper, because that extra weight makes more impact.”

“We wanted to stop focusing on what we do and start focusing on why we do it. And the answer to that was: add value and impact through first-class printing.”

“We see as a new generation of print experts print today is also much broader than print on paper. There are still huge growth opportunities for traditional printing companies if you dare to look beyond traditional forms. With the development in technology today, there are many more opportunities to print various materials and shapes, such as, for example, a nice brochure in a personalized packaging box or a printed puzzle that you can order in small quantities to offer as a year-end gift. A creative approach offers your end customers tremendous opportunities. Our future lies in those various forms of printing coupled with offline and online capabilities. We must and will evolve to this hybrid form of print, online and more than paper. Let’s start by inspiring our customers what print as a brand sense can really mean.”

Innovation first

All this notwithstanding, Jesse Marynen is a big fan of and remains eager to learn about digitization – if only to not let the train pass by and actually jump on it. “So I don’t see digitization as a competitor, but as something that can strengthen print and vice versa. Just look at how Bloovi, as a digital platform, has already distributed three high-end magazines to customers – our print work, by the way (laughs).

“Moreover, digitalization puts us on edge and forces us to innovate. Such as solutions to automate standard printing and focus more on custom printing. The best proof of that attitude is that we not only continue to do print management for companies, but also offer smart digital solutions to clients.

“Therefore, I do not see digitization as a competitor, but as something that can enhance print and vice versa.”

Such as our (open) e-commerce platform in which the customer can configure and order printed matter completely customized. In addition, we also offer BAAS, or Buroform As A Service, a (closed) marketing platform tailored to the client’s needs. The customer can find all their marketing materials in it and reorder personalized ones if needed. For example, name cards for a new employee, banners,…”

Jesse Marynen, Chief Print Officer of Buroform

“I spoke often in our conversation about the challenges in our industry,” Jesse Marynen let us know quickly before the call closed, “but I hope I didn’t come across as too negative or fatalistic. Yes, it’s true that those challenges make us play finals every day and we have to make the right choices every day – because any decision can turn out wrong in a pressurized market with ever-shrinking margins – but that’s also what makes it all so fascinating. Moreover, the love for the business is just too great to take on that challenge and we continue to grow as a company – we turned a positive figure last year, which is by no means evident but shows that we are doing well.”

Also looking for a partner for your high-quality printing? Find out what Buroform can do for you here.

This piece is a collaboration between Bloovi Studio & Buroform.