By Andy Slawetsky – Elatec RFID held their annual customer event at their headquarters outside of Munich Germany on Oct. 1. The event nearly doubled in size from the 2017 show with almost 100 people participating from over a dozen companies, many of which you are very familiar with. HP was there, as was Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Lexmark, NT-ware, OKI, PaperCut and so many others – 27 in total at my last count.
We arrived on Sunday and I had a nice dinner with some Elatec people and a customer from Brazil. It was interesting to chat with someone using RFID in an area outside of print and the office. It gives you a great idea on the potential of this technology.
Dinner ran over into a few “biers” in the lobby sitting area. It was great to catch up with the Elatec people I’ve met at other events they’ve held. The company is truly international as I sat with Americans, Germans, Dutch, French and Polish (and others) all in one little lobby. And they next day would bring people from even farther.
We started our day the next morning with a short trip over to Elatec’s headquarters in Pucheim, a quaint town about 20 min from Munich. As this year’s group was too large for their conference rooms due to their growth, we were split into German and English speaking rooms for our presentations.
At that time, John Villegas and JT Tepley provided us with updates on the Elatec and new products. The company update was very strong with Elatec showing continued growth as they expand their reach beyond print into other industries. Indeed, RFID is becoming increasingly integrated into products as the cost comes down, the size gets smaller and the capabilities continue to grow. Elatec is well-poised to take advantage of that opportunity, building on their success in the print market.
During the presentations it became clear why Elatec has been so successful. First, a bigger company with deeper pockets acquired a majority stake in the RFID manufacturer earlier this year.
This has no doubt opened doors as Elatec continues their expansion in to China, Latin America and the US. They’re staffing up in each of these markets and continue to add people in others. If I’m lucky enough to attend next year’s Oktoberfest, I am sure they will be in another building as they have now outgrown their current location. Expanding costs money and with the backing of their equity investor, they’re in a very strong position.
Elatec is an incredibly innovative company and there’s a short line of communication between engineers (think Sheldon from the Big Bang) and the sales team in the field. This has lead to a series of new product capabilities and categories that in some cases, were invented on the fly. While Elatec has grown, the tie between the field and the developers seems as tight as ever. I was struck by a capability the US sales team “found” while playing with the RFID readers that is now being built up and tested by the German engineering team. It just started with a sales guy saying, “I wonder if we could do this…” and after a short chat with his developers, there’s a whole team now working on it.
After the meetings, it was time for everyone to put on their lederhosen (If I come back next year I promise I will wear some!) and we went back to our hotels to get ready for the evening.
If you have never been to a Munich Oktoberfest, it’s pretty amazing (to say the least), with about 14,000 people crammed into buildings where the food and beer never stops, along with the band.
Elatec buys tables on the upper level where we all sit together overlooking the floor. It’s an incredible view and this year Elatec needed their most tables yet as we had a full busload of customers and employees joining us at this event.
After much singing, lots of food and more beer than I ever thought I could drink in one sitting, it was time to go…to the afterparty. Elatec doesn’t mess around and this event isn’t for the feint of heart! After the Oktoberfest, we hit a local disco where the lederhosen and giant steins were now replaced with lasers and cocktails that went on until the wee hours of the night.
The event was another success as Elatec employees spent an afternoon and evening with their customers, showing them the future of RFID as well as an amazing time. I’ve been to many incredible events over the years, but it’s hard to pick one that is as much fun as Oktoberfest in Munich.
I greatly appreciate the invitation to attend and it was great to see the continued evolution and growth at one of the world’s premier RFID manufacturers.