As a senior application specialist with several years of experience at Mark Andy and in the printing industry, Alfredo Lopez has a wealth of knowledge about every step of the printing process. He is a reliable source for your technical questions and troubleshooting quandaries.
In this interview, Alfredo discusses some of his day-to-day experiences while on-site with customers and troubleshooting in the Technology Center. He also shares some advice for print technicians and what he’s excited about in the industry.
Carolyn Kroupa: How long have you worked at Mark Andy, and what positions have you held?
Alfredo Lopez: I’ve been with Mark Andy for nine years. I was a print tech and senior print tech. Now, I’m a senior application specialist. I’ve always been in applications and training. I was hired to do on-site training, and since I’m bilingual, I traveled through Latin America for five years doing demos and visiting customers there. Prior to working at Mark Andy, I worked at a print shop for over 12 years.
CK: What does your typical workday look like?
AL: There are two scenarios. Scenario A is when I’m in the Technology Center at Mark Andy in St. Louis. I do demos, trials, and tests for potential and current customers to help them troubleshoot a specific application. I also do testing for our engineering team as needed and run samples. Then, once a customer has purchased a press and it’s built out on the floor, I run a press acceptance which is either in person or virtual. This is so customers can see the machine run some of the work they submitted so they can approve for the press to be shipped to them.
Of course, I answer emails and phone calls as well to help customers with application-specific questions. I can take the problem on their press and try it myself on the press in the demo room to see what works. Printing is like putting a puzzle together. You’re taking a substrate, ink, a plate, all these pieces, and you have to put them together to output a finished label. Well, sometimes one of the pieces may not play nice with the rest, so you have to figure out what the bottleneck and source of the problem is. When I can’t pinpoint the issue, I can use my supplier connections within the industry to help the customer resolve the problem. That’s a big part of my time spent on the phone, figuring out what the problem is and how to help.
Scenario B is when a customer purchases a hybrid press and it’s installed, I go on-site and do on-site training and troubleshooting. My role as an on-site trainer is not only to teach operators how to use the machine, but also I make sure the installation went well and everything is working how it should. I make sure the training is completed and verify that they’re able to produce production and help them be successful at it. So, my work is split about 50/50 in the demo room and new press installation onboarding for digital hybrid.
CK: What is your favorite part about your job?
AL: I enjoy the troubleshooting a lot. It’s nice doing something different whether it’s on-site at Mark Andy or at a customer facility. I do truly enjoy the travel. I travel 100% of the time, so I like being on the road and there always being something new to see. It’s fun interacting with different people every week training customers. When there’s an issue to figure out, the troubleshooting portion of my role is what I enjoy the most. I don’t do it because I’m trying to grow my ego, but I do enjoy being able to accomplish something. Whether I get the credit or not, that’s not what it’s all about. It’s a team effort.
CK: Who is your team comprised of and what does your interaction look like with them?
AL: I work across all departments—from the personnel putting the presses together, engineering, project managers, and the demo room team. I have the magic cell phone, it’s the proverbial key to the city. It allows me to make contact with the engineer that designed the press I’m troubleshooting. I can go directly to the source, and they are very good about helping while I’m on the field. My team isn’t five people, it isn’t ten people, my team is anybody that is part of the Mark Andy brand.
CK: How did your YouTube series, #AskAlfredo, come to be?
AL: It all started because I was trying to go viral before my kids did. Just kidding! No, it started because as our presence online grew, we would get a lot of questions. They were questions we were already getting through the service department, but this was more visible. We have done videos in the past with Dr. Flexo, so the marketing team thought to do a new video series with me. That was fine with me, I’m willing to do anything for a laugh. We started doing that, and we’ve gotten pretty good feedback. I get comments and messages from customers, and when I show up to do on-site training, they say they’ve watched my videos. I’m still trying to work the merch angle; I’m trying to get t-shirts or something.
Watch #AskAlfreo: Your Technical Questions Answered by Our Senior Application Specialist
CK: What’s an upcoming printing technology or innovation that excites you?
AL: I’m excited about the Digital Series iQ platform. We are in the middle of installing our first one right now. I got my hands on the press, and I was able to visit Domino on-site and see demos before the whole project even took off. Being in the industry, I knew their machines, what they looked like and what they did, but I was never able to really get up close and personal with it. By being involved with this whole partnership from the beginning allowed me to learn the Domino side of the equipment. Now that we’re together and we’re shipping them out, I’m excited to start see them on the field. As for application trends, I am seeing more heat transfer and ink molds type of labels. A lot of people are trying to go towards recyclable films and recyclable materials which is great. Those are the things that we like to see continue to grow, and that seems to be the trend for this year. Everybody is trying to switch over to thinner liners, thinner films and recyclable films. Unfortunately, the thing is inks are not recyclable. As soon as you apply most ink onto a substrate, it becomes not recyclable. So, that’s one area that is still under development.
CK: Is there any advice you would give to print technicians?
AL: Go out and get educated. There are a lot of resources online, such as My.MarkAndy.com. It’s important to take advantage of your resources to help you understand the product better. Like I said, printing is a big puzzle, so if you know a little bit about all the process that you’re putting together, it will help you get the big picture.
Alfredo is dedicated to helping customers find solutions with their Mark Andy presses. If you have technical questions, email askAlfredo@markandy.com and your question could be featured on the next #AskAlfredo video.