Q&A With ELATEC CEO Paul Massey

It’s hard to talk secure printing without hearing the letters “RFID.” Those little readers are a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to authentication, both for allowing access to a function and for releasing a print job — we’ve all heard the fact about “the paper left on the printer is one of the biggest security risks.” Companies like ELATEC are major players in that area, and you’ll see their name in conjunction with most of the big OEMs — ELATEC, for example, had a presence in the vendor fair at Sharp’s recent dealer meeting.

Of course, the office equipment industry is just one area of many in which RFID products are used, meaning companies like ELATEC are poised for growth. ELATEC USA, the Florida-based U.S. division of ELATEC, recently announced a new CEO — and when we say new, we mean not just a new hire, but a brand-new position added to aid in the company’s growth. That new CEO, Paul Massey, will focus on ELATEC’s growth in North and Latin America, and he took some time to chat with us recently.

So Paul, you’ve been on the job two weeks. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned?

The most interesting thing for me was just learning our technology and the flexibility that we have, thinking about the product strategies and where we might want to increase the portfolio. I haven’t been a practicing engineer in probably 25 years, but I’m still a bit of a techno geek, so I enjoy the innovation process and find it really interesting. It allows us to continue to differentiate ourselves as we release new products and add more tools to our tool kit to solve problems for customers. I did some of my own research prior to joining, but now I can get into the technical discussions and understand more about the products. For me, that’s been the most exciting part.

You have a very interesting background — your bio says you have “30 years of experience in the embedded electronics industry.” Tell us a little more about what you have done in the past.

In my time at Motorola I worked on a fair number of different types of products, although, I was for the most part on the product management and marketing side. We did embedded systems for the telecommunication infrastructure, a lot of high availability systems that we sold not only to Motorola customers but also to other major telecoms around the world. I got involved in the embedded component side in 2009 when Projected Capacitive glass touchscreens were just starting to become introduced to the market. I joined sort of a startup there. We were not working with the classical consumer products, but instead with medical, marine technology, aircraft and aviation OEMs  taking the touchscreen solutions and getting them embedded into some major products in those areas. So I’ve had experience in working in healthcare, working with point of sale, with kiosks, etc.

Just recently, I was involved in thermal management and solutions around protecting high-end equipment that’s now outside the computer room. With the deployment of 5G and the IoT, highly sensitive computing equipment is being pushed out of the computer room and “closer to the curb,” where people are using it in day-to-day interface. There are a lot of challenges in protecting that equipment in both heat and cold, moisture, salt fog and other types of chemicals.

Where do you see some of that experience fleshing things out in your new role?

There’s a couple of things. Obviously, we’re investing in the U.S. and the Americas in general. We continue to bring on more resources and want to make sure that we can increase our scale and our coverage to support customers and provide a greater level of solution to all of our customers. But I also see the general technology going into applications and verticals that it hasn’t traditionally been thought of, much like touchscreens were.

For me, it’s that experience that said, “Let’s be a thought leader. Let’s help our customers think about how they can use the technologies in ways that maybe they haven’t even thought of because their expertise is in pharmaceutical control or a vehicle charging and explain to them how our RFID side technology can be a benefit to them.” I think that’s where part of the excitement for me is — it’s emerging, it’s evolving. I think that technology will continue to progress and be pervasive in certain markets, and we’d like to be on the forefront of that. So that was, for me, part of the big interest and the excitement of joining Elatec.

When you have a flexible technology that might have a lot of use cases, there’s some education required on your side when talking to customers to explain what the technology does. How does that message get across and how does it get to the right places so that you can optimize usage?

You can’t boil the ocean. You don’t have the marketing budgets that you would if you were Intel or back in the Motorola days. So we have to be very strategic and look at where we’re going to invest our efforts and create more awareness around who we are and the solutions we can provide. Also, customers will come to us with ideas and with challenges. We’re always looking for the problem we can solve.

I think if we increase our brand awareness and talk about our potential solutions and where we think the technology can go, customers will engage with us and bring us into certain areas that maybe we hadn’t thought of. We’re excited and happy to do those things and evaluate those and see where we can help.

The strength of the company, the technologies that we have and our differentiation in a lot of those technologies with our flexibility of products — and honestly, just the bench strength that the team has here made it really a good fit for me. I’m very excited and happy to be here.

Patricia Ames is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.