Having been successful in carving a significant niche for KBA in both web and sheetfed offset in the commercial, newspaper and packaging segments, Burton will return to his native New Zealand in January 2007 with a brief to build awareness and sales for KBA across the Tasman.
Burton will be succeeded as managing director at KBA Australasia by former KBA headquarters heavyweight, Walter Schumacher, who, up until May this year was executive vice president and member of the executive board for sales, marketing and service at KBA’s group headquarters in Würzburg, Germany.
Schumacher, a trained engineer and economist, was appointed executive vice president for web press sales and marketing at KBA in 1998. In 2000, the supervisory board of KBA added the responsibility for the worldwide service of web presses.
"This was quite a unique decision," Schumacher says, "because at most machinery manufacturers, the service forms part of the production division and is not the responsibility of sales. As we know today, it undoubtfedly was the right step and the markets highly appreciated the significantly increased customer orientation of the completely restructured service division. I always say that a good service department is the best sales force I can imagine."
During the last eight years with KBA, Schumacher and his team significantly increased the market share of KBA’s web press business, especially in the USA, China and the Asian-Pacific region. "And I’m very satisfied," he adds, "that one of my sales directors was able to take over my responsibility at the headquarters."
Schumacher is no stranger to Australia, having initiated the foundation of KBA-Australasia in 2002 and visited the market on a regular basis. Around the middle of this year, Schumacher and his wife moved to Sydney and made Australia their home. "Australia is a great country and nation and easy to fall in love with," Schumacher adds, "and an interesting market for KBA as well."
Burton moved from Auckland to Sydney early in 2002 to establish and develop KBA’s first direct presence in the Australasian market. He already had an association with the respected family-owned German press manufacturer, having represented the brand during his tenure with supplier Manders, subsequently Edward Keller.
At the time of his appointment to his KBA role in Sydney, Burton says, "The productivity and reliability of KBA technology is second to none, and has not been given the attention it deserves in Australia". That imbalance is now a distant memory for KBA, which has recorded sales beyond expectations in the nearly five short years since Burton hung up the company’s shingle in Australia and began to build a sales and service team from scratch.
With Burton at the helm and an extraordinary level of support from the German parent company, the small but focused KBA Australasia team has inked contracts for many high profile installations across Australia, covering the gamut of commercial, newspaper and package printing.
Those installations have included an $80m share of the massive re-equipment underway at West Australian Newspapers and the longest sheetfed press in Australia, the 40m KBA Rapida 142, size 6 (55”) at packaging printer, Anzpac Services in Sydney.
Burton has very much enjoyed the challenge of establishing and building the KBA brand in Australia and adds that in a little under five years in the market, KBA has sold 21 presses in Australia, including five newspaper press lines and three heatset web offset presses.
Stepping down as managing director of KBA Australasia at the end of 2006 in favour of Walter Schumacher, Burton has plans to be back in New Zealand early in 2007.