Long-serving EFI chief executive Guy Gecht has announced that he plans to step down after more than 18 years in the role, and a search is underway for his successor.
The announcement was made yesterday (30 July) at the same time as EFI’s Q2 results.
Gecht joined EFI in 1995 and went on to lead the engineering team for Fiery servers, then the firm’s largest product line. He became CEO at the beginning of the year 2000 and has overseen the company’s transformation into a powerhouse in both digital printing and business productivity software.
He said it was “the right time to step down”.
Gecht told PrintWeek: “It’s always difficult to pick the right timing. I wanted to do it when things were good, and the business had lots of opportunities.
“Last year we had a few challenges, but we have regrouped and come back. The business has momentum and the team is performing really well,” he stated.
Gecht said he was proud of the role played by the entire EFI team in the firm’s achievements. “For 33 out of the last 34 quarters EFI grew, and that’s incredible in any industry not just in printing,” he added. “That’s not down to one person. The team here is amazing and they make me look good.”
EFI chairman Gill Cogan paid tribute and said Gecht and his team had transformed the company.
“Guy led the expansion into productivity software and industrial inkjet, which drove EFI’s rapid growth to over $1bn in annual revenues. Guy is only EFI’s third CEO in its 30-year history, which has brought a unique stability that the board truly appreciates. As a global company with industry-leading technology and products, there is an unmatched opportunity for a new CEO to lead the charge in the years ahead.”
The timeline for Gecht’s departure will depend on how long the executive search takes. The business has employed headhunters Spencer Stuart to lead the process.
“We have already identified some excellent candidates. I’m not in a rush and the board is not in a hurry. It’s the company’s most important hire for the last 20 years and we will take our time,” Gecht said.
He said that the board would be “very open-minded” and internal and external candidates would be considered, along with executives with or without printing industry experience.
Quizzed about the possibility that former Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson could be a candidate to replace him, Gecht said: “I don’t really want to comment on individuals, but Jeff is an incredible leader and also a friend. Any company that he would run would be very fortunate to have him.”
Gecht and Jacobson enjoyed a ‘fireside chat’ together at EFI’s 2017 Connect event.
Commenting on the news on LinkedIn, Jacobson said: "Guy, When you actually step aside, the industry will have lost one of its great leaders and 'faces of the industry'. Your leadership over the past 18 years is as strong as any we have seen. Your passion for your customers, shareholders, employees and technology is what built EFI into a $1bn+ technology company. You should be so proud! All the best! Jeff."
Once his successor is in place, Gecht, who is 53, said that he planned to take a sabbatical for a year although he will remain on the EFI board.
“I will help the new CEO in any way they want me to above and beyond my role as a board member,” he added.
“I’m not disappearing from the industry, I’m a big fan of print and am passionate about it. I’m just not going to be working 24/7.”
Also known for his participation in EFI’s humorous videos and musical parodies, including jumping out of a cake to celebrate Benny Landa's 70th birthday at Drupa 2016, Gecht said “maybe I’ll do one more, for the transition”.
“Everyone in the industry works so hard, I like to make fun of myself. Perhaps there can be one more funny note.”