Stabler to helm single-pass inkjet JV

Stabler: praised for bringing the JV from an idea to a vibrant, standalone company
Stabler: praised for bringing the JV from an idea to a vibrant, standalone company

Durst and Koenig & Bauer have recruited former Xerox executive Robert Stabler to head up their new joint venture.

Stabler will become managing director of the new Koenig & Bauer Durst operation on 1 August. The business is focused on single-pass digital printing for corrugated and folding carton packaging applications.

He has spent more than 20 years working in imaging and printing, most recently as senior vice president of Xerox’s continuous feed business. He left Xerox at the end of last year and has been offering consultancy services since.

Prior to spending five-and-a-half years at Xerox Stabler held senior roles at HP, Nipson and Agfa. He grew up in the UK but has spent much of his career in international roles.

The new joint venture company will be headquartered in Würzburg, Germany, alongside Koenig & Bauer but will “cooperate closely with both parents’ global network”.

Koenig & Bauer chief executive Claus Bolza-Schünemann described it as “the start of something very special in the printing and packaging industry”.

“We are incredibly excited by the opportunities ahead of us and we are confident being able to form a superb team led by Robert Stabler.”

Stabler said the folding carton and corrugated packaging markets were “ripe for digital transformation” with brand owners “crying out for very good, cost effective, short-run and versioning solutions”.

“We will add all the competencies of Durst and Koenig & Bauer to leverage the best solutions. Durst with its expertise in digital imaging, production systems, inks and software integration, Koenig & Bauer with all its mechanical knowledge, high duty cycle process, engineering, paper transport capabilities plus, of course, the great go-to-market expertise of both teams,” he stated.

Durst CEO Christoph Gamper also praised Stabler for his impressive track record and leadership skills.

“He is an inspirational leader and is accomplished in proactively managing change management as well as having substantial experience in developing new markets. The team we’ll create for the joint venture will supply the necessary solutions in markets where digital production lines offer huge opportunities for the folding carton and corrugated fibreboard industries.” 

The initial product portfolio will encompass single-pass inkjet corrugated printing systems from each party: the 6,000sph Koenig & Bauer CorruJet 170, currently available in CMYK with a seven-colour option in the works; and the Durst Delta SPC 130, which prints in up to six colours and has a larger maximum sheet size. The JV will include all associated services and ink business.

It also includes the development of the new VariJet 106 B1 sheetfed inkjet press. This initially began life as a joint venture between Xerox and K&B at Drupa 2016, and Stabler was involved with the project at that time. That version of the press never came to market, and Koenig & Bauer Durst now plans to unveil the revamped model at Drupa next year.

Further details about the likely size of the team being recruited were unavailable at the time of writing. A Durst spokesman said the JV, while standalone, would start off using shared services. The sales strategy for the business is set to be rolled out over the coming months and this will define the number of new recruits required.

Separately, Koenig & Bauer has announced the fifth installation of its RotaJet inkjet web press for digital decor printing. Wood products specialist Swiss Krono has bought a RotaJet 225 for its Heiligengrabe production site in northern Germany.