By Andy Slawetsky – Elatec RFID Systems held their annual Winter Sales Meeting in Hutchinson Island Florida January 15 – 18 and I was there to cover the event. A leading RFID vendor in the print space, Elatec is headquartered near Munich Germany, working with major brands like Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Samsung, Sharp, Xerox and others.
I’m told this is one of two annual sales meetings Elatec holds and the first in sunny Florida, home of Elatec’s US headquarters.
About 30 people attended the event and I was fascinated by the diversity of the team, coming from all over the world; Australia, France, The Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Turkey, UK, USA and probably elsewhere.
There was a nice welcome dinner the first night where Elatec had rented out the back room of a local restaurant. I knew a few people from a meeting last fall and it was great to see everyone again and see some new faces.
The days were broken down into segments, some of which I sat in on and some I didn’t. I can tell you Elatec is on a tear and as RFID continues to grow in capability and use, the sky is the limit for this technology firm.
Elatec manufactures their own hardware and it was interesting to hear closed-door conversations on pricing, strategy and new ideas. They’re definitely not standing still as they constantly evaluate and tweak their own products to improve them and create new models.
In fact, Elatec received 3 patents in 2017 and they have some ideas for several more that could come within the next year.
I spent some time chatting with Elatec’s CEO Stefan Haertel throughout the event. The company is going through a phase of extreme growth, adding over 20 new positions in 2017 and they’ll probably add more than 20 in 2018.
Currently, Elatec has offices in Germany, the US, UK and soon in China where they’re setting up as we speak. They also have remote offices in many other countries as they support their worldwide customer base. The boom in RFID in our industry and in general has fueled their growth and Elatec has capitalized nicely.
Elatec began in Munich in 1988 and the company is still headquartered just outside the historic German city. Earlier this year, I attended their Oktoberfest event where we sat through some demonstrations before hitting the main event. It was probably one of the most fun events I’ve attended in 20+ years doing this job.
After our meetings at the hotel, we headed over to the Elatec offices for lunch and a tour. Elatec USA recently rented space next door and had the wall knocked down, joining the two offices to make room for their anticipated growth. Space isn’t just an issue here in the US, I’m told they’re quickly running out of room in Munich and will likely have to find something larger in the not-so-distant future.
We were supposed to do something different that afternoon, but the weather forced us to make a last minute change and the visit to their offices turned out to be a lot of fun. It was great to see my What’s Happenin’ hat hanging on John Villegas’ wall! The 2018 hats are in and they were a hit! You’ll see them in some of the event photos. Don’t worry Elatec, I’m sending more down to you!
Several of the European visitors rented cars and of course, being European, they rented awesome vehicles; a Jaguar, a Mercedes and a candy red Camaro. We spent as much time outside taking photos with the cars we did inside touring the facility!
That night, we headed to a cowboy bar for some line dancing and karaoke. I knew I was going to have fun when I walked in there and saw the Buffalo Bills flags hanging from the ceiling. Right on. The wings were spot on.
Events like this are always funny. At first, maybe one brave soul will get out there and dance or sing (let’s call him Berhan). Once the alcohol starts flowing, people become a bit more courageous. By the end of the night, just about everyone was on that dance floor wearing their Elatec event t-shirts. What a sight!
The next day we were up bright and early for breakfast and meetings. I’m not sure how these guys all made it on time, but there they were. Work hard, play hard, baby! I spent the morning watching a great brainstorming session that gave everyone an opportunity to provide some input and thoughts on the company, products, direction, etc. Great idea.
The event concluded with remarks from Stefan and Elatec USA president John Tepley. It was a nice wrap up of two days of excellent conversations and presentations.
It was a nice week for me in Florida as I don’t often get the opportunity to see what’s going on behind the curtain and to mingle with all levels of a company like I have with Elatec; sales, marketing, engineers, support staff…just about everyone. It was great!
RFID provides exceptional opportunities for dealers and Elatec is clearly a leader in this space. They continue to evolve and grow and their innovative spirit is impressive.
I appreciate invitation to come cover this event. Elatec is an exciting company with great people and if you do anything with RFID, they’re a company you should know about.