Industry In-Depth: Paul Haglich

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Africa Print Journal interviews Paul Haglich, who is retiring after 45 years of service at Bytes Document Solutions.

PLEASE DESCRIBE, IN SHORT, YOUR LIFE LEADING UP TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER AND FROM THAT POINT TO YOUR CURRENT POSITION

Haglich grew up in the South of Johannesburg. After serving in the Air Force for a year, Haglich completed his National Technical Certificate. He was then employed as a technician at the SABC for three years. Haglich joined Rank Xerox in 1971 as a technician. 'We only had three copiers in those days,' he says, laughing. He stayed in the technical division for a decade, becoming a product specialist and section leader.

In 1981, the first laser printer, the Xerox 9700, was launched. Haglich was the technical manager of the team that launched the product in South Africa. 'This was the first time that Xerox was targeting IT departments. We were replacing dot matrix printers, the early printers that used flash overlays, in the IT departments of big corporations. That was the birth of electronic printing,' he says. 'I went for training for seven weeks on that technology.'

In 1991 Haglich moved into the marketing division for production systems. Colour presses started coming in soon after this. The company began bringing in Xerox digital printers, such as the Docucolour 2060. After that, technology was introduced rapidly, with the subsequent launches of the Docucolour 5000 then 8000. The groundbreaking iGen was then launched. From then on, Xerox released more products that were closer to offset printing and easier to operate.

Xerox was also focusing on its black and white printing solutions. 'The Docutech is a legend of a product in monochrome printing. Once Docutech was introduced in South Africa, it became a huge success. So we had a very powerful range of black and white printers and colour presses then came in to complete the range. I've been privileged to be involved in these developments since the beginning. I've never been bored in my job because there was so much happening with new products and challenges. Overall, I've had a very exciting and fulfilling career.'

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT WORKING IN THE PRINTING INDUSTRY?

'I enjoy meeting customers using our technology, to see how our solutions help their businesses.'

WHAT IMPORTANT INDUSTRY-RELATED CHANGES HAVE YOU NOTICED OVER THE PERIOD OF TIME YOU HAVE BEEN PART OF IT?

Haglich has been there to see all the technology milestones, including the first duplex copier that could copy on both sides automatically. Then there was the telecopier, the first version of the fax machine, which allowed you to send documents all over the world. There was also the first word processor, and the 9400, the first big production copier.

He has also seen major market changes. 'Initially, printers were cynical about digital, but the iGen changed this, because printers could see that the quality of digital had improved,' he says. 'With shorter runs, they needed to add to their offerings. Today, print runs are decreasing, and digital solutions have to be considered by most printers. Digital also gives them options like variable data, which opens up new revenues.'

Haglich also believes that printers have to become a communications company, offering clients the whole spectrum of communication methods. 'This isn't easy, because you have to have the right skills in place for people to team up with customers, but if you can become a strategic partner, you're more likely to keep clients because you're offering more value added services.'

ANY HOBBIES OR INTERESTS? CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF?

Haglich enjoys dinghy sailing, cycling and is an aviation enthusiast, getting his Private Pilot Licence is on his bucket list. His five grandchildren also keep him busy.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER LEAVING BYTES DOCUMENT SOLUTIONS?

Haglich will still serve in a part-time consulting role for Bytes Document Solutions, where he will look after existing clients. 'Forty five years have gone by in a flash. I'm very grateful to have had a career I enjoyed. I've travelled a lot and it's been satisfying to have been involved in launching all the new products into the South African market. It's been a very interesting journey for me.'

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