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Q&A with New Katun CEO Kuoying Wang

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Katun Corporation is one of preeminent distributors of OEM-compatible imaging supplies for A3 copiers and multifunction printers (MFPs). The company also offers a broad line of supplies for A4 printers and MFPs. This spring, the company announced it has a new leader. On April 17, Katun announced that Kuoying Wang had replaced Robert Moore as chief executive officer (CEO) (see “Katun Gets New CEO”). Mr. Wang has served in leadership positions at General Plastic Industrial Company (GPI), which is Katun’s parent company, and Katun Asia. That news was followed by the announcement that Katun had appointed Kay Fernandez, formerly of Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., as vice president of global marketing (see “Katun Hires Kay Fernandez as Global Marketing VP”).

Kuoying Wang, CEO of Katun Corporation

Moreover, while Katun has long offered a line of remanufactured printers (see “Katun to Sell Line of Remanufactured HP Laser Printers”), the company announced last year that it would start distributing Arrow Systems’ industrial printers including label and flexible packaging printers (see “Katun to Distribute Arrow Systems Industrial Printing Equipment in Europe”). Katun subsequently formed a Digital Printing Solutions (DPS) division, and the company recently showcased a portfolio of industrial printers at drupa 2024 (see “Katun DPS Introduces New Devices at drupa 2024” and “Katun DPS Calls drupa 2024 a Success”).

Given all the changes at Katun, Actionable Intelligence was eager to hear from Mr. Wang about his background, his vision for Katun, and what the appointment of a GPI insider as Katun’s CEO might mean for the company. Mr. Wang kindly agreed to a Q&A session with us.

Background

Katun Corporation was founded in Minnesota in 1979 by T. Michael Clarke and David G. Jorgensen. The company started as a distributor of parts and supplies for analog copiers that sold its products to independent office-equipment dealers. Although the industry has long since switched from analog to digital copiers and MFPs, Katun has continued to focus on compatible supplies for these devices, and dealers remain the firm’s core customers.

Monomoy Capital Partners acquired Katun in 2008 and completed a recapitalization of Katun in 2016. In 2018, GPI acquired Katun from Monomoy (see “General Plastic Industrial (GPI) to Acquire Katun” and “GPI Closes Acquisition of Katun”). GPI of Taiwan was founded in 1978 and is known as a manufacturer of toner bottles for copiers/MFPs, toner cartridges for printers, and drum gear.

GPI reports its financial results because its shares are traded on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The company had a strong FY 2022. GPI’s revenue for FY 2022 was NT$1,487,361,000 (*U.S. $45.9 million), up a modest 0.43 percent over its revenue of NT$1,481,043,000 ($45.7 million) in FY 2021. Net income for FY 2022, however, skyrocketed to NT$678,609,000 ($20.9 million), an increase of 101.61 percent over its net income of NT$336,590,000 ($10.4 million) in FY 2021.

While full-year results for FY 2023 have not been announced yet, GPI has published results for the first three quarters of the year. Thus far, FY 2023 is shaping up to be a weaker year than FY 2022. For the first nine months of FY 2023, GPI is reporting its revenue is down about 8.7 percent, while net profit is down 42.5 percent. GPI explained it had a tough comparison due to the sale of land interests in Cambodia in FY 2022 (the sale contributed to net profits doubling that year). Excluding the impact of this sale, GPI said it expects that in FY 2023 its revenue will decline due to the global economic downturn but that net profit will grow.

We were also interested to see a breakout of the firm’s revenue for the first three quarters of FY 2023 by product type. GPI derived 51 percent of its revenue from the sale of supplies for color copiers, 16 percent from supplies for black-and-white copiers, 15 percent from cartridges for black-and-white printers, 7 percent from cartridges for color printers, 4 percent from hotel revenue (one of the firm’s subsidiaries is the Taichung Harbor Hotel in Taiwan), and 7 percent from other products.

Q&A with Kuoying Wang

Q: Bob Moore’s departure and your appointment as CEO caught a lot of folks by surprise. Can you comment?

A: Bob Moore was a key asset to the success of Katun as CEO over the past eight years and for the over thirty years of employment at Katun. His contributions to the company will long outlive his tenure as CEO, and the initiatives he led will continue to move forward and shape the future of our business.

Q: How was the company able to find new leadership so quickly? Per Katun’s press release, it seems the timeline was Mr. Moore stepped down on April 12 and a new CEO was in place by April 17. Is that timeline accurate or had a transition in leadership been planned prior to that?

A: I was in the fortunate position to have worked with Mr. Moore closely on all aspects of the company. The Board of Directors felt the best course of action to prevent disruption to the business and ensure the success of future initiatives was to appoint me as the new CEO. As a result, I was able to work with Mr. Moore to ensure a seamless transition.

Q: Please tell us about your background. When did you start working for GPI? What are positions you held there? When did you start working for Katun and what are some of the positions you have held there? Do you still hold any positions at GPI in addition to serving as Katun’s CEO?

A: I have been Katun’s Chairman of the Board since April 2021, and prior to that I served as the General Manager of Katun Asia. I got my start in the imaging industry at General Plastic Industrial Company (GPI) of Taiwan, holding several positions including Vice President of Sales, and then as the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

GPI is a listed company, founded by my father, Jack Wang. GPI was established in 1978 to produce plastic injection molding for the shoe business, eventually transferring the company’s plastics expertise to the toner cartridge industry.

Over time, GPI evolved into one of the imaging industry’s leading manufacturers of copier and printer cartridges, as well as OPC drum gears. In 2008, GPI’s first printer cartridge finished goods business, Cartridge Web, was born.

In 2018, GPI purchased Katun, which was a major milestone in GPI’s history. Acquiring Katun, with its stellar reputation of providing high-quality, high-value OEM-alternative products, was the perfect next step in GPI’s evolution.

Q: Seeing as you are in a unique position having been in leadership positions at both GPI and Katun, can you tell us what GPI’s approach is to managing Katun as its subsidiary? To what extent is GPI involved in Katun’s decisions and operations? Would you say GPI allows Katun to operate very independently, does GPI play a major role in decisions, or is it somewhere in-between? Does your appointment as CEO indicate any change in this regard such as GPI taking a more active role in the company’s decision-making and operations?

A: Katun and GPI have been strong partners for decades. Katun continues to partner with GPI as a source of high-quality toner cartridges, waste toner containers, and other plastic molded products. GPI appreciates Katun’s strength and presence as a world-leading distributor of imaging parts and supplies. The association between Katun and GPI thrives due to the strength of leadership of each company over the years and the philosophies that independently drive each company. GPI recognizes that the individual strengths of each company must remain to ensure mutual success. As the parent company, GPI is aware and supports the business philosophies at Katun, supports the Katun leadership, and will continue to contribute as needed.

Q: What can you tell us about Katun’s financial performance under GPI’s ownership? We imagine that like all other companies in this space Katun’s business was down significantly in the pandemic but has since recovered, albeit not to pre-pandemic levels. Is this Katun’s experience? How was business in 2023? What was Katun’s revenue in 2023? What was the rate of growth/decline year-over-year? Any specifics you can provide around business performance would be helpful.

A: Like everyone else in the industry, Katun’s revenue dipped during the pandemic, although not as much as one may think. By optimizing our supplier relationships and strengths as a distribution company, Katun was able to continue to supply its customers with little interruption. The pandemic shut down many businesses, both temporarily and permanently. However, many businesses that rely on the imaging industry saw an increase in the need for parts and supplies to keep their machines running. Customers around the world turned to Katun to help stabilize their business to help their businesses recover after turbulent times. As early as 2022, Katun returned to pre-pandemic sales levels, and Katun’s growth, innovation, and revenue have been strong ever since. Katun continues to deliver positive performance.

Q: What would you say Katun’s split in revenue is regionally: How big a business is North America versus Europe versus other markets?

A: Our European Business Unit is our largest revenue producer, followed closely by North America and Latin America.

Q: Can you share any information about what Katun is seeing in terms of sales and demand for A4 versus A3 supplies? What are you seeing in terms of sales and demand for monochrome versus color products? What are you seeing in terms of sales and demand for reman versus new build?

A: Katun continues to grow its sales despite headwinds with the pandemic and changing economic conditions. Our color versus monochrome product ratio aligns with the market, with color components showing higher growth.

Q: We understand Katun naturally sources many of its products from GPI. Does it use other manufacturers as well? What role does Katun play in product development?

A: Although GPI is a significant source of products for Katun, Katun partners with other manufacturers. Katun’s quality value proposition remains a priority for us. Katun partners with only the finest manufacturers around the world. As always, Katun is leading all development for the products we sell today.

Q: Are there any recent endeavors or product launches at Katun that you are particularly excited about? Tell us about them and why they are important.

A: Katun is about to open a new research-and-development laboratory in Taiwan. It is a state-of-the-art facility that rivals those operated by the industry’s original equipment manufacturers. Katun is excited about several new products and program initiatives that will be very impactful to the industry.

Q: Now that you are CEO, can you tell us about any of your goals or plans for Katun? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you anticipate any big changes at Katun?

A: I am looking to broaden Katun’s product range beyond its current portfolio. Katun now offers digital printing solutions in Europe and Latin America. I believe it is crucial to strengthen our relationships with our customers by introducing new solutions that meet their needs.


Actionable Intelligence looks forward to following Mr. Wang’s leadership, Katun’s opening of a new R&D center, and Katun’s new products and programs in the year ahead. The company seems to have weathered the pandemic well and sees its Katun DPS business as having the potential to drive growth.

Would you like to see your company featured in a Q&A session with Actionable Intelligence? We’re all ears (and typing fingers)! Email Christina Bonadio at editor@action-intell.com, and let’s talk.

*U.S. dollar amounts are translated from yen using the XE currency exchange rates as of June 14, 2024 (NT32.3978 = $1). These conversions are for the reader’s convenience only.

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