Trophex magazine talks to Bryan Jater, National Sales Manager, Trotec Laser Ltd.

Trotec was formed in 1997 from a research branch of Trodat and has since become a world leader in the field of laser technology and laser manufacturing. As part of the Trodat Trotec Group, Trotec develops, manufactures and markets laser systems for marking, cutting and engraving, as well as manufactures and supplies a range of engraving materials. Trotec sets new standards, serves customers in more than 90 countries and has more than 500 employees worldwide.
How and when did you start working in the industry?
I first came into the industry 19 years ago when I left my job in the house removals industry and joined my father's business, Identify Engraving Systems. Identify was later purchased by Trotec. My fascination in laser systems was instant and remains to this day.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
There have been many highlights over the years but the thing which gives me most pleasure is seeing a customer's business grow from taking their first laser to ending up with multiple machines. It is often a huge decision in a small business to take the plunge and invest in a new technology but when you have helped and watched that business grow it give a huge sense of satisfaction.
What changes have you seen over the years that have had an impact on the industry?
As with all industries the Trophy market has had to move with the times. Online shopping for goods of all types is now commonplace, so we are seeing more of our customers invest in e-commerce. Social Media has also had a huge impact, with customers advertising their products via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram amongst others. The ease of trade with China has also been a major influence with lots more "cost effective" products available to the industry
How do you think your organisation has contributed to or influenced the industry?
Trotec has always been at the forefront of laser technology.  Often our machines are bought as a replacement for more traditional methods of marking such as diamond engraving and sand blasting. This gives our customers the edge in terms of production speed, complexity of graphics and graphic preparation. Trotec were also the first to introduce dual laser source machines to the market. These machines have fiber laser sources in addition to CO2, which has allowed our customers to mark substrates such as pewter and silver plate without needing additional machinery.
How do you think the UK leaving the European Union will impact the future of business?
What I hope will happen is that more products will start to be manufactured in the UK. We have already seen the value of our currency depreciate so importing has become more expensive which inevitably leads to higher pricing for the consumer. It would be great to see more UK manufactured, creative and diverse products hit the market. Will it happen..? That remains to be seen.
Do you think technology in the industry has kept up with consumer demand or exceeded it?
I think consumer expectation has changed over the years. We now expect everything instantly, whether that be a set of awards or the delivery of a new laser machine. Laser technology has helped with production speeds and lead time, sublimation and direct to substrate printers have allowed customers to have full colour, software updates have helped the industry produce high quality results from often low quality artwork. What will the consumer be demanding next?
Do you think 3D printing will become a cost effective way to create Trophies and Awards in the future?
At this moment it is hard to imagine. I am sure that many prototypes are manufactured that way but the speed of production at this point makes it cost prohibitive right now. 
What role in your opinion does the internet play in the industry?
The internet plays a huge part in our daily lives and this industry is no different. If you need some trophies then the first port of call is likely to be Google. If your business is not on the first 2 pages of Google then it is very unlikely that you will get that enquiry. Nobody sits and looks through the yellow pages anymore.
Do you feel an online presence is essential to increase profitability and product range awareness for suppliers and retailers alike?
Absolutely. With good product photography a supplier or retailer can advertise a huge range of products without actually having to tie up cash in stock. Of course some customers will want to see a product in the flesh, but the majority of us make far more purchases online than anywhere else.
How important is brand exposure in addition to product sales?
Brand exposure is the first part of selling a product. One of the most credible ways to gain brand exposure is through recommendation and referral. If you can get people to speak positively about your brand, whether that be because of an interesting marketing campaign or the excellent customer service and quality products they received, you can get much more 'bang for your buck'. Owning a Trotec laser can certainly help you along the way to producing high quality and unique products, the next step is to get people talking about them and the ultimate aim is to reach the point where your brand name is synonymous with a specific product, think Dyson!
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