BigRep suddenly announced the passing of their founder, René Gurka.
Yesterday I was shocked to read that Gurka is gone. According to the formal BigRep announcement:
“It is with deep regret that we must relay of the passing of René Gurka, BigRep’s founder and former CEO.
René energized BigRep as a global brand from its foundation. He brought his personality and global thinking to the company’s core. René’s spirit lives on at BigRep where his limitless energy continues to fuel the daily lives of everyone here.
We cannot imagine what BigRep and all our daily lives would look like without René’s influence on the company and its employees. There are no words that can properly convey the incredible impact and inspiration that René had on the spaces he lived his life and his lasting influence on those around the world who were blessed to know him and remain dedicated to his ideas.”
I have to agree with this sentiment, having met René on several occasions. He was always very kind and open to us at Fabbaloo, and every conversation with him was dramatic and enlightening. I can imagine it was a pleasure to work with him at BigRep, and I cannot imagine the company without him.
I first met René in Amsterdam, at the ill-fated first AMShow. At top you can see him talking at full speed, eagerly describing BigRep’s then-introduction of massive filament spools for use in their gigantic 3D printer.
René was obviously very proud of his company. In this image he demonstrated to us the strength of BigRep’s 3D prints by sitting on a recently 3D printed chair. That was René; bold, dramatic and forward-thinking. We spoke with him in 2016 and found out a great deal about his plans for the future.
His leadership transformed a simple idea into a major 3D printer manufacturer: inexpensive large-format 3D printing. While there are several providers of such large equipment today, when BigRep appeared there was no such thing available. It was a bit of a gamble, as no one knew whether that was a viable market.
It turned out to be a stroke of genius, as large-format 3D printing is now one of the more profitable niches within the space. While large-format 3D printing is somewhat more expensive than desktop units, it’s a vastly less expensive option for companies producing large items, who previously had limited manufacturing options.
René’s vision propelled the company forward to today’s BigRep, which markets several different large-format 3D printers, partners with other manufacturers, offers a line of large-format-compatible materials and has a sales network that spans the globe.
My most recent conversation with René occurred last year, when we were negotiating a site visit, which ultimately did not happen. We did speak with him at every trade show where BigRep was exhibiting, but we were puzzled by his absence at the most recent shows. That, and the fact that BigRep announced a new CEO to replace him, made us wonder what was going on. I suppose we now know.
I always looked forward to speaking with René at events. But that won’t be happening anymore. Our sincere condolences go to René’s family, friends and team. He will be missed.