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 user 2009-08-11 at 12:22:23 pm Views: 74
  • #22396
    Longtime Printer Maker Printronix Sees Executive Shift
    of Printronix Inc., an Irvine-based maker of industrial printers, has
    changed hands after 35 years under the same executive.Randy Eisenbach,
    58, was recently promoted to the top spot at Printronix, which went
    private two years ago.Bob Kleist, who now is in his 80s, started
    Printronix in 1974. He remains the company’s chairman and helps manage
    some customer relationships.The transition marks the end of an era at
    Printronix, which is one of Orange County’s oldest technology
    companies.Kleist and business partner Gordon Barrus were the original
    inventors of what’s known as the line matrix printer. This type of
    printer creates text on a page by printing very closely spaced dots.The
    two men tinkered in a garage in Playa del Rey until they had a
    prototype of a printer that was faster and cheaper than the ones on the
    market at the time.Line matrix printers since have become the industry
    standard for box labels, barcodes, invoices and reports.Eisenbach was
    brought in last year to handle business development and guide the
    company through the tricky acquisition of assets from bankrupt
    competitor TallyGenicom LP of Chantilly, Va.

    In May, the company announced that Eisenbach would succeed Kleist.
    officially was promoted from chief operating officer to chief executive
    last month.Printronix bought the U.S.-based assets of TallyGenicom,
    which makes printer supplies and parts, as well as toner, ink and
    ribbons for use with other printer brands.

    The TallyGenicom deal took the better part of a year and wasn’t a typical acquisition.
    had to bid for the bankrupt company’s assets in an auction, delaying
    the deal for months.The auction turned out to be a sort of formality,
    since Printronix was the sole bidder. Terms of the deal weren’t
    disclosed.As part of the deal, Printronix got TallyGenicom’s brand
    name, its line matrix printer business, intellectual property rights, a
    service center in Renton, Wash., and a plant in Mexico.

    TallyGenicom is now a reseller of Printronix gear and vice versa.
    deal gave Printronix a near monopoly on industrial line matrix
    printers.“With that acquisition, we essentially have 90%-plus market
    share worldwide,” Eisenbach said.It also allowed Printronix to expand
    in to fast-growing markets such as China, India, Africa and the Middle
    East.“Ours is a very highly mature business in the developed markets,”
    Eisenbach said. “It is much earlier in the product lifecycle curve in
    emerging markets.”Like Printronix, TallyGenicom’s printers are used in
    the healthcare, transportation, manufacturing and retail industries.One
    of Printronix’s biggest customers is Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

    The executive shifts cap two years of big changes at Printronix.
    2007, the $108 million buyout by San Francisco private equity firm
    Vector Capital took the company private after nearly 30 years of being

    The move gave Printronix a bit of shelter:
    high costs of regulatory compliance were eating into profits and the
    company had put a lot on the line for a technology that didn’t take off
    as fast as expected.“It took away the burden of costs and the burden of
    making decisions based upon what that decision is going to do to a
    short-term stock price, versus long-term shareholder value,” Eisenbach
    said. “As a public company there was not a great deal of capital to do
    acquisitions and fund external growth.”In March, the company sent the
    last of its local manufacturing to factories in Nogales, Mexico, which
    is on the Arizona border, and undertook a big restructuring.At its
    peak, the company had some 500 workers here.These days, Printronix has
    about 250 local workers and more than 500 in all.

    The Business Journal estimates Printronix sees about $150 million in yearly sales.
    is a Texan through and through: He’s got the gravely-voiced drawl and
    the raucous laugh.Before joining Printronix, he was chief operating
    officer of Canadian software company Corel Corp., which was bought by
    Vector in 2003.Corel went back to being publicly traded in 2006 after a
    series of three acquisitions, which Eisenbach managed.

    He has some tough shoes to fill.
    Kleist is known as an inventor and technology expert, Eisenbach is an
    operations guy.“Bob is a great strategist and a great technologist,”
    Eisenbach said. “I tend to be an organization guy. I grew up in
    manufacturing. My leadership style tends to be much more picking a
    direction and sticking to it.”Eisenbach said he’s “making no attempt”
    to fill Kleist’s very big shoes.“I can’t be Bob,” he said. “We have
    very different styles and a different mode of operation.”