By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The decision of Electronics for Imaging Inc. — EFI — which has manufactured wide-format industrial digital inkjet printers in Meredith for more than a decade to relocate its operations to Londonderry primarily reflects the challenges of attracting and retaining skilled employees that face employers in the Lakes Region.
Earlier this week, the company announced that it is constructing a 250,000-square-foot facility near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, where it will house research and development, manufacturing, warehousing, training, and servicing for its wide-format printers along with a demonstration center for its customers.
David Lindsay, manager of public relations at EFI's headquarters in Fremont, California, said Wednesday that the new facility is scheduled to be completed early in 2018. He said that finding a suitable site within a one-hour commute from Meredith was among the criteria the company applied in relocating its operation and that all the more than 300 people employed in Meredith would be offered work at the new facility.
In announcing the move, Scott Schinlever, senior vice president and general manager of inject solutions, singled out "proximity to the tremendous pool of talent in the greater Boston metropolitan region." His remark was foreshadowed in the company's 2015 annual report, or 10-K, filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The report notes that "Our VUTEk super-wide format industrial digital inkjet printers are primarily manufactured in a single location in Meredith, New Hampshire" and continues "We have encountered difficulties in hiring and retaining adequate skilled labor and management because Meredith is not located in a major metropolitan area."
The report takes the issue a step further by designating the maintenance of an adequate workforce among the factors placing the company's growth and competitiveness at risk. "If we are not able to hire and retain skilled employees," the report reads, "we may not be able to develop and manufacture products, to meet demand for our products, in a timely fashion." Repeating that its super-wide format industrial digital inject printers are produced at single locations, the company notes that "any significant interruption in the manufacturing process at there facilities could adversely affect our business."
EFI established its presence in Meredith with the acquisition of VUTEk Inc., a maker of wide-format printers, in 2005. Lindsay described the acquisition as "a turning point for the company," which marked its entry into the wide-format printer market. The company expanded its presence in this market with the acquisition of Raster Printers of Silicon Valley, California in 2008 and Matan Digital Printers of Williamsville, New York, in 2015. During the 12 months ending in June of this year, the industrial inkjet printer segment generated $530.3 million in revenue, representing 55 percent of total revenues and year-over-year growth of 39 percent.
Lindsay said that the site in Londonderry, apart from its proximity to a larger pool of labor, will also be close to the airport, which will provide greater convenience for employees coming to the facility for training and customers visiting to view products as well as facilitate shipping and receiving products by air.
Meanwhile, EFI owns 34.5 acres of land and some 141,000 square feet of building space with an aggregate assessed value of some $5.7 million in Meredith.
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