Four Questions With Mona G. Friedl, MGF Services, LLC
- By Raegen Pietrucha
- Mar 01, 2012
Founded in April 2004, MGF Services, LLC is an aftermarket company providing refurbishing and repair services, parts, consumables and more for commercial Web-offset, sheet-fed, packaging, converting and other types of specialty printers. Previously involved in both her grandfather’s printing press company and her father’s press rebuilding/repair business, Mona G. Friedl, MGF’s founder and president, brings more than 25 years of experience to the table. There is significant overlap between the office/desktop and press aftermarkets, especially when it comes to the need to be increasingly innovative, improve services and expand product lines to stay competitive in the marketplace. Below, Friedl details how she’s stayed on top of the game.
1) How has growing up in the industry informed the business choices you’ve made, and what are some of the resulting developments at MGF?
It’s very uncommon in the aftermarket manufacturing/repair business for a woman to be in such an industry to begin with. I don’t know of very many women in the industry. What has it done for me? It has created many, many challenges, and with those challenges, great opportunities. I try harder to do enough research so that my prospective buyers could see that I went above and beyond what I need to in presenting the right follow-up for either the repairs or products in that industry.
Since childhood, I’ve been involved in a family business. I think that involvement conditioned me without knowing it. I developed a sense of seeing what the future holds, and it changed my perspective. I am constantly looking through the eyes of prospective clients or customers, so I don’t look at things the same way. I think that perspective gives me a leading edge from companies that may have just started in the repair, manufacturing and consumables business. Many of them are too focused on what they are selling, not knowing what the client really needs.
MGF had to change many of the ways that we look at our business because of the added communication layers out there — the Internet, voicemails, Twitter, LinkedIn, you name it — just to get to the decision-makers. We have had to change the way we look at doing business with those added layers, and basically, it’s in how we communicate with the end user. We do many follow-ups. We do regional trade shows, newsletters, and special product and service mailers, and we advertise with publications that are industry-related.
We started adding different products and different services to keep capturing aftermarket repair. Every year, we upgrade our website because there are so many changes that happen throughout the year. We’ve taken on several product lines we’ve never had before, such as consumables. For new product lines, we negotiate with dealerships, distributorships and other suppliers, and we put those under our umbrella so that we keep adding overlapping product lines to capture more revenue in our business. Rather than having customers go to several different places, they can now come to one company and have consumables and nonconsumables from the same resource, saving them valuable time.
We have also added a complete line of coatings. These coatings apply to refurbishing. They also apply to the packaging and converting industry. Anything you look at or buy has packaging with printing. I don’t care if it’s in medical or food products; you see packaging and printing there. We have added about 100 different types of coatings for different types of medical and food-packaging equipment. Those areas are probably the strongest markets we have right now.
As long as technology keeps changing, we believe that there will always be high-volume printers that are going to require Web-offset, sheet-fed and Sunday equipment, but there is also digital. Digital is part of today’s technology, and if you are not involved in digital printing, you should figure out a way to get involved, because digital is going to be a part of all printing today.
2) What’s the most challenging market segment in specialty printing that MGF works with, and what has the company done to cater to it?
I would say Web-offset printing because of the equipment; it’s forever changing. Web-offset printers are trying to be maintenance-free, which is really not true because nothing lasts forever. But what they’re trying to do is minimize the maintenance on their components or their presses. We’ve had to have an insight as to which Web-offset or sheet-fed components are going to wear down faster. How are we going to stay ahead of the game? Basically, we need to have the right service for customers when these types of components are at the point where they need refurbishing. Customers want choices other than the original OEM.
There again, we’ve had to pull together different types of programs that are a little bit more of an incentive to buy from us. For bigger types of company/corporate accounts, we actually offer a rebate: Buy from us, and at the end of the year, we will give you something back. Typically, it’s a percentage. Just for figure’s sake, say they spent $50,000 in various different services or components that year. We will give 2 percent of that back so that they have incentive credit to carry — just like if you were a credit card. They have rebates that come back and say, “We will give you a rebate because you are buying from us.”
3) How has the recession affected the specialty printing industry and, subsequently, MGF?
For much of the equipment 10 or 15 years ago, it was very common for users to strip down what they call “units” for each color of their equipment and have them sent out for refurbishing due to wear or preventive maintenance. They do not do that anymore. They want to fix it only when it breaks now because of budget cuts, because of the economy. That approach has changed many of the ways in which we prepare to keep going and to survive in this industry.
Again, when it comes down to the budgets, many customers are driven, obviously, by cost. We are trying to drive the value of our services. Services go above and beyond cost. What I mean is, we will go out of our way to follow up and service that account more than we did 10 or 15 years ago. Service drives the purchaser. They need to see how their return on investment will save them money in the end. What we have done is actually improve many of the parts — even above the OEM specifications. We will change to different coatings or different types of materials that have a proven history of longevity. That is what today’s customers look for.
4) What do you consider to be the significance and value of the aftermarket as a whole, and what’s the biggest key to success in it?
The aftermarket is a necessity for every equipment owner in the printing industry. I don’t care what level of printing it is out there. I believe that customers need choices, and they need to know what choices are out there. Printers have to be very careful in selecting aftermarket suppliers — based on their history, based on their warranty and if the supplier is going to be there 10 years from now. Many other suppliers have tried aftermarket, and if you go back to see if they still exist after 10 or 15 years, many of them have shut their doors because of technology changes. When you are in this business, you must upgrade your equipment. For instance, 10 or 15 years ago, it was very common to see mom-and-pop shops that had equipment geared for the technology of the time. If you are still working with that technology in today’s world, your prices are not going to be competitive.
The biggest key to success in my world today is trying to find new ways to keep servicing customers. New growth opportunities will come from listening to customers and keeping a close eye on their respective markets. Many of the services we offer today have been developed based on customer needs. We also utilize our network supply chain on many projects, providing preowned presses, on-site services and consumables.
Aftermarket products and refurbishing leaders today differentiate themselves by providing better services and improved products. Innovation and creativity are vital to developing these services and products. Doing business the old ways by the old rules only limits the customer’s perception of a provider’s capabilities.
This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Recharger.
Raegen Pietrucha received her B.A. in English from University of Arizona and her M.F.A. in poetry from Bowling Green State University. She is a former teacher and has written for several industries, including legal, private investigation, heath care and currently document printing. She has also served as an editor for both professional and literary publications. Her creative work can be read in Cimarron Review, Edge, Puerto del Sol and other magazines.