We caught up with BigRep recently on a busy 2018.
In August 2017, BigRep announced Marangell’s appointment as the President of their US business and EVP of Global Sales, following his tenure as the CEO of Rize. BigRep America was probably the biggest change in BigRep globally, he explained, as part of “a clear effort to expand globally and really in earnest be a global company rather than a global startup with tentacles in New York and Singapore.” Establishing a major hub in the US, which accounts for “some 40% of the marketplace,” was an important operational move for the company.
“I have corporate roles as well, but the most important thing I could do is start up operations in the US,” Marangell told me of his work at BigRep.
“Having done that several times before, I was very comfortable with that. We started with a small team here… That wasn’t going to be enough either to sell or to make happy customers. I brought in one of the best service managers I know, we started to add to the channels, and made a strategic decision to go with third-party sellers. We created a strategy to aggressively grow the reseller network.”
Now, he continued, BigRep has expanded to create a “really strong North American network” with more than 16 partners dedicated to operations on this continent, including in the US, Canada, and Mexico. These strengths, he said, make all the difference.
“This is still a product, and an industry, sold at the industrial level through the personal touch,” he explained. “Then, when you make a sale, it’s all about having a good support team both from the reseller and from our team to back them up. So I made sure we had a good, solid team in Massachusetts to grow with our US headquarters.”
Boston operations include the company’s Woburn office for day-to-day work, as well as a partnership through which the BigRep One 3D printer is visible right at the front entrance of the Autodesk BUILD Space. Both locations allow for highlights of the company to come to light, helping the company do business on this side of the Atlantic with show space as well as quiet office settings.
Looking to internal operations, Marangell again underscored the importance of getting the right team in place, and noted that marketing expert Abbey Delaney “is really knowledgeable about the industry and what it takes to support a channel structure.” Marketing works from the bottom up to support the BigRep reseller team, a structure that resounds throughout the BigRep ethos.
“I truly believe that this industry is successful and grows from the bottom up, not from the top down. Maybe you can sell desktop printers from the top down, with Google marketing and a nice website, but industrial machines have to be sold from the bottom up,” he said. “I think it’s worked out. We’ve more than doubled our sales… People are coming to us. All our efforts in getting the word out are paying off. I think we are differentiating ourselves from the pack.”
BigRep already stands out in a crowd, especially among extrusion-based technologies — by necessity. The company is not mis-named; BigRep 3D printers are big.
And, Marangell assures me, they have “some big steps coming up.”
While our pre-IMTS conversation was a bit too early to talk about what those steps are, a few hints suggest that they will be very much worth watching. I’m keeping a close eye on my inbox to keep tabs on when it’s time to talk — and I expect to be keeping some good space on my schedule for formnext to spend with the team and their new products in person.
“The current products are nice; it’s German engineering, stable and consistent, it does what we say it does, and we’ve built a good base. As a company, we’re very customer-oriented,” he said as we chatted about the upcoming announcements. “In many ways, the product has a certain limit because of the speed and materials that are available, and some of the core limitations of today’s thermoplastic extrusion machines. We’ve reinvented all of that to come up with solutions that are going to change the additive manufacturing space. That’s a good enough place to leave that.”
Back to full on-the-record chats, we turned to BigRep’s focus on strategic partnerships.
The company, Marangell underscored, is “not reinventing the wheel ourselves.” Statements like that add credibility to any strategic claim, as no single entity will reinvent the wheel when it comes to industry.
Among one of the key partnerships highlighting this focus is work with BASF, which includes both investment and a working relationship. BigRep has since announced another partnership that Marangell had teased. That new partnership, with Bosch Rexroth, came to light last week and is targeted at fitting better into a manufacturing environment; Marangell had said it would “add a couple more levels of capability in the additive space,” and indeed so it seems it will.
A few strengths that Marangell underscored in our chat have definite merit to them: application focus and delivering what they promise.
“We are looking all the time at where the next-generation machines need to be by looking at applications. We are looking at automotive, aerospace, industrial; we will probably focus on medical and dental; these are all great applications this industry is looking at. We look at strategic application, then developing solutions and materials that will fit those solutions. We feel very comfortable that because of that, these systems will be accepted in the marketplace because it’s already designed for specific applications,” he said.
“It’s important to do what you say you’re going to do. It’s important to be a leader in the community, to go to the shows — to be seen and to see people. Before last year, we weren’t part of everything, people didn’t know who BigRep was. If you’re not in the opportunity, people don’t know about you.”
Safe to say people know now who BigRep is. Some big awards in Germany have attested to this, and the company’s video about a 3D printed airless tire has been viewed more than four million times. The company has also made some interesting steps lately, such as in addition to the aforementioned some intriguing work on a new extruder.
Globally, the BigRep team is now close to 100 people strong. That growth is evident through their increasing partnerships and some upcoming case studies to highlight real-world validation of what sounds good on the phone or on a busy trade show floor.
“We don’t call ourselves a startup anymore,” Marangell said as we closed our conversation. “We’re trying to make a difference in this industry, and I think you’ll really see that pretty soon.”