Aristidis Tsikouras, Managing Director, GeWeTe Interview. By Sophie Behan
Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary! What plans has the company this year to celebrate this impressive milestone?
We are proud to look back on 25 successful years of GeWeTe. The beginnings were naturally humble – we introduced a change machine to change notes into coins. Today we offer the greatest range of solutions for change and redemption machines and are active in a variety of markets. We have the right solution for each application. This anniversary gives us the opportunity to thank our customers personally and we expect over 400 people from all over the world to our celebrations at a special location – Phantasialand (that is near to our headquarters).
Can you provide readers some of the high points over the years that are most memorable from a business and product development stand point?
Our company foundation was our first memorable occasion. The introduction of our change machines brought a new, dynamic way for operating for our customers. They no longer had to make use of valuable employee time to provide change to their customers. This time could be used elsewhere – in other types of service to improve the player experience and / or as a way of cost savings. Our first products were called the WGS 1000 and the WGT.
We have enjoyed many memorable occasions throughout the years for which we are thankful. The introduction of our WGS 1001 and WGS 2000 in 1996 are strong in my mind as these took change machines to a new dimension with new services such as a ‘staff control function’, staff accounts and enabling change through a debit (EC) card. The ‘staff control function’ and staff accounts give employees several key features that helped improve operator service, such as accessing change from the change machine in order to refill gaming machines. The success we enjoyed (and still enjoy) in our home country of Germany where we have more than 75% of all change machine needs for the amusement (street) market was our catalyst in 2002 to ‘go international’ and offer our solutions on a global basis. Another key point in the history of GeWeTe was the great technological step in introducing PC-based change and redemption machines in 2005/2006 – our Cash-Center and our best sellers, the Cash Recycler and the Maxi Cash Recycler. Indeed, ever since 1993 we have constantly increased year-on-year turnover and our staff number has grown significantly throughout the years. Today we are proud to have over 75% market share in the German street market and to be one of the largest and most important producers of change, redemption
machines and cash handling systems for the global market.
Last but not least, up until 2015 our focus was on the street / AWP market. At the end of 2015 we were given the responsibility of being the change / redemption machine company for the international casino market within the Gauselmann Group. I am pleased to tell you that in this short period of time we have already installed our solutions in more than 150 casinos.
How do you see the next 25 years?
The future looks very bright and I am very positive that we will continue to play an increasingly important role in the global casino market. We have the advantage that we control the entire process by ourselves – we are responsible for it all – from R&D, through to manufacturing, distribution, sales and support. We are very close to the market and so can react to changing market conditions with the right solution. That places us in a very strong position.
How has 2018 treated GeWeTe so far?
It started excellently with the ICE – this was our best ICE ever. The local shows – such as the EAG in England, Expojoc in Spain and the ENADA in Italy have been very successful as well. Our order books are full. I am confident that the year will continue this way.
What are the main benefits that gaming establishments gain when they install GeWeTe cash handling solutions?
I’ve already explained how important it is that we have full control of our company processes and the benefits that gives to our customers. Let me emphasize here our After-Sales Service. We place great focus on supporting our customers, being there for them to answer their questions, ensuring they are making full use of their GeWeTe machines. Sometimes requirements change and our machines can be altered on-site, for example to introduce ticket reading and other payment applications.
Every industry has its competitors, what are the stand out qualities of GeWeTe cash handling solutions in your opinion that provide gaming establishments that edge over alternatives?
Globally there is no other company in our marketplace that can offer so many different solutions than us. We have the right solution for each application. Our focus is always on quality – that has brought us to the position we are today after 25 years in business.
Cost is always a major factor. How does the price of a GeWeTe Cash Handling machine compare to alternatives?
Thank you for this question! The general reaction in the market to our ‘made in Germany’ change machines is that they must be very expensive. I believe we are the most economical. Let me explain why: Our focus is on quality and security, on optimal machine uptime. The follow-on costs are kept to a minimum. Downtime leads to a machine being switched off – upsetting customers and costing money as someone has to go and fix this. Secondly, our machines are built to last. There are still GeWeTe machines up and running that we sold over 20 years ago. This is a unique combination in the market and quite simply explains the reason for our success.
What exhibitions in the Gaming industry are your most important to exhibit?
The major shows for us are the ICE and G2E Las Vegas. Yet we place our focus as well on the regional shows, such as those in England, Italy, Spain, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
The Sports Betting sector is a major international growth sector what are the bespoke solutions provided for this sector?
We introduced our first products to the sports betting market ten years ago. Today we have our machines connected to over 40 different sports betting providers. Personnel no longer need to have contact with cash and the benefits of linking a customer card to our machines speak for themselves. Customers can top up their customer card or withdraw their winning directly at the GeWeTe machine.
What factors are in your opinion the primary features of the popular GeWeTe Ticket-in, Ticket-Out Redemption Machines that contribute to its reputation amongst many customers that they are the best on the market?
The price-performance ratio is simply right. Our customers get a whole lot of product and service for their money. And don’t forget – we’ll be here the next 25 years for sure. We have the backing of a very financially strong owner in the Gauselmann Group that has over 13,000 employees worldwide. As stated before, we place great focus as well on our after-sales service.
What is involved when it comes to updating GeWeTe Cash Handling Machines so they are able for example to process new coins and banknotes without considerable downtime due for example to having to organise for a qualified engineer?
Our solutions are designed in a modular way. That means it is possible to upgrade them on-site should the jurisdiction / customer requirements change. Both software and hardware changes can be done on-site. As you now know, machines that have been in the field for over 20 years have seen currency updates – for example from the D-Mark to the euro and updates for the euro when new note have been introduced.
How popular with gaming establishments is the recently launched The Cash-Center-Compact-Casino that has the new automated payment system?
The Cash-Center-Compact-Casino is ideal for casinos with its modular construction. It offers the ability for payment / change in coins, banknotes, cashless, magnetic cards to name a few. A ticket printer can be included or a card reader. It covers the full range of payment possibilities and can be easily updated in the field should the local requirements change.
GeWeTe has built up a strong loyalty base over the years with its customers which greatly assists with repeat business this must be very pleasing to you and your fellow employees at GeWeTe?
This is very true. I believe that quality always wins through. To offer such quality means that we have to have the corresponding level of quality in our staff. I am very proud and thankful to have such a team. Our employees are very loyal. Labour turnover is minimal. Many of our staff have been working for us for a long time – that is a great deal of experience and professionalism we can make use of.
GeWeTe has such an extensive range of cash handling solution machines that its hardly surprising the company is launching new versions are you able to provide readers on plans during 2018 or do you prefer to announce near the launch date?
We showed our latest machine at this year’s ICE. I can assure you that you can look forward to next year’s ICE where for sure we’ll be presenting a further new innovation in the field of change and redemption machines.
What is the research and development procedures at GeWeTe that are involved when it comes to finding the ideal solution for Gaming & Leisure venues for your Payment machines and Recyclers?
The most important thing for us is to listen to our customers. To do this you have to be close to your market. Dialogue with our customers is key for us – to ensure that our customers are getting the right GeWeTe solution – and if that does not yet exist, then we can develop this. That explains our extremely wide product range. We take our customers seriously and we respect it is our customers who define future requirements.
What exhibitions can readers next see your range of Cash Handling solutions over the next 6 to 8 months and what machines can visitors expect to see on show?
We are continuing our global expansion in the casino market. You can see us at the G2E Las Vegas and local shows such as the EAE in Romania and the BEGE in Bulgaria. New for this year – our debut at the exhibition in Buenos Aires.
Have you anything else you would like to add?
I wish to conclude this interview by thanking our customers for 25 years of faithfulness and loyalty. Without our customers we would not be in the position we are today. We will continue to ensure we offer the right solution for each and every application. You can be sure that with our highly motivated team we will remain a step ahead in the market for change and redemption machines!