Ralf Schlozer: Far From Home

By Elizabeth Gooding / Published:

Next up in our profiles in quarantine we find Ralf Schlozer who normally provides our European perspective on inkjet markets. While most people have been forced to stay home due to COVID-19, Ralf is almost 10,000km from home and can’t get back. Our intrepid reporter has shown that he is, literally, willing to go the extra mile with whatever transport he can find to stay productive.

What can you tell us about these pictures?

My wife and I were traveling when the world went into a lockdown. We spent two rather strenuous weeks in Guyana tracking down some elusive creatures like the giant anteater and the giant river otter and then went on to have some time to relax in easy gong Costa Rica. At that point our flight was cancelled and now we are stuck at the Caribbean Coast until flights are resumed. We could be here until May. I had committed to a real vacation and was traveling without a laptop. I tracked down one that I can use temporarily at an acquaintance’s place, involving a ride on a rickety bicycle down the coastal road shown below.

Where is home?

Home is Berlin, where I studied printing technology and spent the last 13 years as well, working from home. I love Berlin as a lively city with seemingly endless places to dine out, go clubbing, cinemas, theatres and museums. Alas all is closed currently – or so I’ve heard.

Days at home since March 1?

Actually, none, even if I liked to.

What are you doing to keep spirits up?

Have you ever dreamt of getting stuck in that paradise location? This could be damn close but Costa Rica is tightening measures such as closing beaches, bars and national parks. And we do not know when we are able to return home. Still, we can listen to the toucans and the monkeys in the morning. And at least I can look at the beach, although it is closed now.

What are your favorite stories of people/companies helping others during the pandemic?

We found many helpful people here aiding us to find a small hut to stay in, get some bicycles and books and find our way around. The support of locals and co-travelers is amazing. While many of us in Europe and the US will be hit by COVID-19, the situation will be much worse here where a lot of people depend on tourism and can’t rely on a social security or government aids.

What are your top tips for printing companies in managing through the pandemic?

Listen to your customers! Some might be in dire need to keep operating and it will be critical to support them. But employee security and travel restrictions need to be observed as well, so operating on a reduced schedule can make sense. Sites in countries offering state subsidies for reduced working hours have an advantage here. The situation changes every day so keep researching what the government has on offer for support.

What do you think OEMs can/should do to help their customers?

Many customers will have cash-flow problems in the months to come, so anything to stretch payments will be very welcome for printing companies. Otherwise keeping up service and the supply chain will be important to support the shops operating. No mean feat but we are all in the same boat nowadays. With drupa being postponed, getting out new gear has to take second seat for the time being (Tough to say for a technology analyst).

Thanks for sharing, Ralf.

We appreciate the efforts you have made to stay in communication while stranded far from home. Thank goodness for WhatsApp. I look forward to seeing you safely returned to Berlin. Here are links to previous profiles of the team:

Amy Hahn – Minnesota US

Mary Schilling – Indiana US

Mark Bale – Somerset UK

If you have a story to tell or recommendations to share about navigating the pandemic, please get in touch.

About the Author

Elizabeth Gooding


Elizabeth is the Editor and Co-founder of Inkjet Insight. She has a rare ability to see print related issues from many perspectives. She has managed creative teams on complex design projects, selected outsourcers for major brands and helped print organizations to retool operations, focus their market positioning and educate sales teams to accelerate growth. She works with a team of top analysts to translate experiences into tools, data and content to help print organizations evaluate the potential of inkjet, optimize their operations and grow pages profitably. She is a founding member of the Inkjet Summit advisory board, the co-author of an award-winning book on designing for inkjet and a curious consultant constantly seeking innovative ways to drive new pages onto inkjet presses.

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