BK: Welcome to HxGN RADIO! My name is Brian. Today we have Roman Brueschweiler from Leica Geosystems and John Clark from Easy Drive Stake with us to discuss the next-generation Leica Rugby lasers from Leica Geosystems. I appreciate you guys taking the time to join us! Thanks for being here. This is going to be neat because we’re going to be talking with you, Roman, about some of the features and you, John, as a customer. We’re going to get some feedback and have some fun.
Roman, let’s start with you. First of all, this next generation of lasers offers the unique capability to adapt to user application needs through software upgrades which is an industry first. Tell us a little bit more about the Leica Rugby lasers.
RB: Sure! As you mentioned before, with the new Rugby laser solution we were able to develop the first upgradable lasers worldwide. So, there is not one existing product so far in the market that you could compare to it. But, it’s not only about hardware. The main focus was clearly based on software and gives the customer the most flexibility for daily business and also focus quite a bit on the end users, because we should not only focus on our partners. Yes, it’s clear we need our partners. But, on the other side we have end users and therefore we were pretty much focusing on simplicity to assure that end users are not able to make mistakes on site, which is the most important point for the end users. And the new lasers are really a solution. It’s not only hardware where you can upgrade functionalities. At the end, it’s really a solution for the end user and also for our partners. So, it’s the typical win-win situation. We were able to develop and generate for building construction.
BK: Who should use the new lasers? Who’s your target market, essentially?
RB: The most important market is building construction, so it’s everybody who has to level anything, transfer heights, pour concrete, whatever. To keep it generic, it’s building construction; its exterior, but we also can do some interior applications, and with the new solution, we are absolutely flexible to cover all the applications.
BK: Nice. So, you’ve already touched on this a little bit, but talk about specifically some of the benefits that these lasers offer.
RB: The benefits depend on the target group we talk about. But, I think for our partners, it’s really the flexibility to have a very limited portfolio in stock, so they are able to reduce their stock – their inventory costs – because they just need basically one or two different hardware models. So, they always have the right laser in stock based on customer needs. They easily can use the newer software to put the functionality on, and that’s one of the main benefits. Correct me if I’m wrong but, I think that’s the most important point of the newest solution. And, as mentioned before, for the end user it’s a bit different; the end user is really looking for ruggedness, reliability, high quality. But I have to say, Leica Geosystems stands for quality, for the highest quality … so all these fancy words, that’s pretty much the standard. That’s why we are looking into a completely new direction. Where can we add value for the customer? And we were able to do it. Our team did a great job!
JC: Absolutely. Yes.
BK: Well John is a customer of these Rugby lasers. First of all, tell us a little bit about your company so we know how these work for you.
JC: Sure. Easy Drive Stake is a distributor in Texas. We have three stores in Texas. We’ve been in business since 1950. The name comes from a stake that’s well-made and easy to drive, and the business evolved around everything you need to put that stake in the right place. A rotating laser has been a key element in our customers’ basket for a lot of years. We’ve seen the evolution, we’ve seen the market change where there’s a lot of what I would call “consumer level” out there and you know, consumer toys, like anybody would go to Home Depot and buy. But, in the professional market that we play in, this is a huge step forward for a number of reasons. And as Roman said, for us personally, it helps a lot because it’s a tool that reduces our inventory. It makes sure we always have what the customer needs, which is even more important. I mean, you know what Murphy’s Law is … it’s the one model that somebody comes in for that would be the one that’s out of stock, right? So, with the upgradable scenario … or you have it again we have three stores, so yes, we have that but it’s in the other store 75 miles away. So, we’re very excited that the customer – what they’ll experience – is no problem. They’ll come in and whatever they need, we can provide for them either for sale or for rent. We’re really excited about that.
BK: And that’s huge. Customers want no problems! They’re just trying to get it done.
JC: Yes, “I went and I got what I wanted!”
BK: Roman, why should businesses invest in the Leica Rugby lasers specifically?
RB: At the end it’s all about money, to be very honest. With the new concept to be released, new Rugby laser customers, our partners, and end users – the complete chain – they’re all able to be much more efficient, have the most flexibility, and at the end they save money. They have the best quality to get the jobs done, and that’s what we are looking for. It’s always our goal and target to do that.
JC: I think what you’ll see in time is that lasers will just be considered … that they can do any laser. If the Leica Rugby they’re used to using, it can do anything that any laser can do because that’ll be their experience. If they run into an application that the one they purchased is not suitable for, they can bring it and we can quickly upgrade it and then they have that capability.
BK: Well said, yes. So, John what projects have you used the Rugby lasers in?
JC: We’ve tested it on a little bit of everything our customers do; all types of construction, from very large infrastructure down to a very small building. I would say the majority of our businesses are major concrete contractors, and they love the performance of the Rugby. They love everything about this. This new model … the ruggedness, the look, the feel, the flexibility. So, we really see the projects – and that’s where I would say probably the lion’s share of it will be on the concrete placement side.
RB: I fully agree with that.
BK: Now performance versus other, you know other tools, other lasers that you’ve used in the past.
JC: Well let me put it this way; one of the things that we do is our repair shop is open to all. So even though we only sell Leica Rugby, we take in everything for repair a lot of times that are not repairable, so we sell them Leica Rugby … we have a selfish reason to do that. But I think if you come to our shop and you look at the shelf … well there’s all these Rugby lasers for sale, but there are none waiting to be repaired. And I think that’s the single biggest thing is the comparison, is the quality stands up. It’s the reason that we can stand behind it the way we do. I don’t know, Roman, if you want to get into the warranty or not. It’s an incredible way that Leica stands behind it, and it’s easy to do because it stands up.
RB: Yeah, I think that’s a good point John, especially if we talk about the warranty … what we call services, after-sales services. We are absolutely a leader in the market if we talk about warranty. I mean we have the five-year warranty, we have the two-year knockdown warranty, which even gives more value to the customer as you just mentioned. I hear that a lot, and it seems to be the right direction.
BK: Where do you both see the Leica Rugby lasers taking the industry?
JC: I think where it’s going to take it in the future … I think again this is where the tool will be relied upon more. You know, there are various methods to get the same work done. They’re used in a lot of different applications, but I think as people realise how flexible this is, then you’ll see the rotating laser be relied on more rather than less. And more manual means will not be necessary, which will really be helpful because in construction we have a labour shortage. I think this is pretty big news everywhere, and I don’t think it’s going to get any better soon. So, I think this allows fewer people to do the same work, and that’s going to be important.
RB: And I think we are really now able to change the market. It will need a bit of time you know, but as soon as people have to first operate the laser, I’m sure we are able to change the market. It’s a completely new direction, it’s unique.
JC: That’s a good point, I think for some of our larger customers, they’ll look at it like we are as a retail business; we look at it as inventory carrying costs, while these large customers – some of them have as many lasers as we do – and we sell all of them for the region. When they start to really look at what they’re spending on lasers and treating some of them as a disposable quantity – where they can take the laser, put it on a project, bring it back, and upgrade it for a different application on a different project. I think we need to talk to the equipment managers – some of the people we don’t talk to as much as we probably need to – because it would be a big benefit for them.
BK: Great, well thank you both for sharing this information! It was cool to have a perspective from both sides. So Roman, thank you. John, thank you very much.
JC: Thank you, Brian appreciate it.
RB: Happy to be here, thanks a lot.