“What’s your service plan? What’s your parts plan??!!!” yelled a tall, bald, somewhat intimidating man over the music and crowd rowdily drinking outside the Haughbrough House in Las Vegas during the SGIA Show in 2012. As I tried to explain that we had a plan, this man whom we now know as Kurtis van Kampen aka KVK, who apparently was no screen printer but some type of engineer and friend of one of our customers and first ROQers Marty Taylor of Tayco Screen Printing, just continued to pummel me with question and after question. I’m not sure how the conversation ended, but I’m pretty sure when it did I had no idea and probably no intention of seeing him again. Little did I know, that unlikely encounter would turn into a fruitful relationship and one of the key ingredients driving ROQ and Ryonet’s success in the US Market over the next 5 years.
Before ROQ was ROQ (originally known as S.ROQUE) and before we even installed our first machine in the USA Kurtis called it. We/I didn’t really have a great plan for parts and service in the US. S.ROQUE was planned, it was one of the only things that I actually business planned out. It resulted in a 71-page business plan document that had 3 revisions in the first two years. Though the parts and service were addressed in there, we had no idea who or how we would implement the team and knowledge needed to make this US entry, technology-driven, higher end and higher priced equipment take hold in an extremely competitive sea of blue. I mean, we had a few prospects and a few competent inside techs, but we didn’t have a solid answer as to who was going to do the work in this city. As Marty’s interest in ROQ continued to develop, I got a call from our team member Nick Wood, who knew Marty pretty well, regarding a Kurtis van Kampen who wanted to talk to me about joining the S.ROQUE team. Kurtis who what I asked? I think you met him at the show Nick responded to me. WHAT, the guy outside the Haughbrough house? Yup, that’s him. Oh boy, this should be interesting I replied. And interesting it was.
Come to find out, after about 10 minutes of talking to him, Kurtis was an extremely smart engineer with a ton of mechanical and electrical experience which is exactly the things that make ROQ Equipment go round. Within a few weeks, he was on a plane to Portugal to get trained up and thus started the Ryonet ROQ APG Team. Kurtis chose to ROQ because of the quality and innovation of the equipment and to be a part of building that foothold in the US market. He knew what it was going to take and he was the right man for the job. By the time presses shipped into the US in 2012, he got a few installs under his belt. The next year we reached over 20 installs and he hired our first APG team extension, the now infamous Buck Premo.
So much has changed in five years since KVK joined our team. Since that time, The ROQ factory he originally visited in Portugal has 5x’d in size. KVK oversaw the hire and training of now a sprawling APG team. The few presses that we started with installing in 2012 are now well north of 400 in the USA and Canada. These two countries have turned into ROQ’s largest world market two years running. KVK has had a key hand in so much of what we ROQers now know as common knowledge and take for granted. Take, for example, the APG team name itself and our serial tracking system that keeps track of which presses are where and stores FIR/Service tickets against each press.
A lot has changed for Kurtis too! On a trip to Puru, he met the love of his life, Gabby, whom he married shortly thereafter. Kurtis has also dived back into the world of product R&D. He’s designed a quartz flash, a variety of pallets, and other ROQ enhancements. These life changes have led Kurtis down a different path and in order to spend less time on the road and more time with his wife as well as pursue his passion and talent of product design in at the end of 2017, he decided to step out as a full-time team member of Ryonet. Not to worry Roqer’s, KVK will still be around and you will see him from time to time at trade shows. Perhaps he will be pallin around with his buddy Marty or showing off one of the cool new products he’s invented to make your lives and prints better 🙂
So KVK, this one’s for you! Thanks for the late nights, early mornings, and the long and many flights you put in to help build this city so hundreds of screen printers can ROQ and roll! We wish you the best of luck in the new year with your new ventures but will miss our original, one of a kind, @sroquetech – Salute!