Updated: New manroland N.A. CEO vows renewed focus

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Posted: Monday, March 26, 2012 12:23 pm

The executive tapped to lead manroland web systems GmbH’s North American operations said the unit remains committed to the newspaper market and that the press vendor’s new organizational structure will mean a more focused and integrated approach to how it serves its customers.

Roland Ortbach, a 28-year manroland veteran who most recently served as the company’s vice president of commercial web press sales and technical support, takes over the CEO spot in the wake of L. Possehl & Co.’s acquisition of the web offset operation.

“We are building the company to become the organization that’s needed to serve the market,” he told News & Tech. “Externally, we want to remove any uncertainty our customers might have, and we want to affirm and confirm our product portfolio and services. But internally, we haven’t changed our mission. While the organization we had before was good, its obligation at that time” — to both the offset and sheetfed market — “was farther reaching than it is today.

“We are now focused on one market which is the web offset market, and we have no other commitment than to our newspaper and commercial customers.”

To that end, Ortbach, along with Ron Sams, who continues in his role as vice president of sales, said manroland will concentrate on the nexus between newspaper and commercial printing, offering services and products that will help newspapers evolve into a market in which traditional boundaries between newspaper and commercial are quickly blurring.

“It’s reflective of our world organization,” he said, citing technological and service support from manroland’s Augsburg, Germany, headquarters. “It is seamless and is not only based on what is done locally but what can be done collectively, utilizing global and local resources. We’ve removed all the barriers between newspaper and commercial development, and this is an important point. Because of what is happening in the market, newspapers are increasingly producing other products. Our commercial strength will be merged with our newspaper strengths.”

Ortbach said that for now, manroland will remain in its suburban Chicago facility and that the unit will share space with the sheetfed operation — now owned by a British conglomerate — but that the two companies are completely separate.

“We will continue to offer the same menu of products and services to North American customers, including workflow software and press retrofit services under the pressupdate umbrella,” Ortbach said.

Ortbach conceded that the period between manroland’s insolvency filing and its February acquisition by Possehl was challenging. “That time of uncertainty was as difficult for us as it was for our customers, but Possehl moved as quickly as possible. Possehl understands the effect of what uncertainty does in every market. But things were happening behind the scenes. We did not stop serving our customers, and in the view of what happened, (the takeover by Possehl) was incredibly quick.

“It might have appeared that we were away, but we were redefining our mission and reorganizing. In the space of a week, we founded a new (North American) company, and transferred our employees to our new organization.

“The message to our customers and to the market is that we will do whatever we need to do to support our customers, as long as it is ethical, justifiable, doable and is supported by our partners. We will be aggressive and operate in a way that our customers haven’t seen in the past. The can-do entrepreneurial spirit from Possehl is a game-changer and we enthusiastically and wholeheartedly embrace it.”

More than 35 North American newspapers use manroland’s presses, including The Denver Post, Toronto Star, Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, Transcontinental Northern California and Detroit Media Partnership.

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