Ronan Samuel, the man behind Cornit Digital, sponsor of the fashion week (Photo: Reuven Castro)
A powerful performance by the fashion designer David Wexler, who expressed the storm of emotions that the Israeli public is going through, opened the "Cornit FAC Tel Aviv" fashion week that took place this week in Hangar 11 at the Tel Aviv Port.
Male and female models walked in two groups, wearing the same clothes, half in black and white and half in color, to the background of the song "And the melody rises again".
At the end of the stage stood a table with an official, who marked the bureaucracy.
After them came models with facial make-up of liquid tears in the colors of the flag, then a policeman appeared who gave reports to the marchers and the audience.
In the finale, the drag artist, Hani Sirkis, got off a military stretcher and appeared together with models who waved signs of "democracy for all", "LGBT rights" They are human rights", "no dictatorship" and "democracy or rebellion".
The person behind the impressive event, produced by Moti Reif, and held for the third time in Israel, is Ronan Samuel, CEO of Kornit Digital, a manufacturer of digital printing systems for the textile industry, which is traded on Nasdaq with a market value of about one billion dollars.
While his hi-tech friends are leading the protest in the streets, Samuel decided to put it at the center of this year's big fashion event, and let the designers express a position against the regime revolution, through the aesthetics and art of clothing design.
"Democracy for all", the fashion of Samuel and Kornit (photo: Reuven Castro)
The money remains (also) in Israel
"We decided to open the fashion week with support for the foundations of democracy," says Samuel, whose identity as a high-tech man and former fighter pilot represents the two arrowheads of the opposition to the legal reform.
"Democracy is not only the choice of the people, but protection of the weak, equality, inclusion, respect, pluralism and respect for different opinions. Now, more than ever, it is important to put it on track. We believe that beyond that we are human beings, also in the world and in the business environment prefer Managers who respect the minority and promote pluralism.
"True, there are very centralized managers who will succeed in the short term, but managers who are open to accepting different opinions and independent thinking, their chances of leading the company forward are greater.
I hope I am in a place where I listen, open, encourage to bring different cultures to society and promote women, which is a strong agenda for us.
Dictatorship is designed to preserve the leader and not the public.
A CEO comes to serve the business company and not himself."
Do you participate in demonstrations?
"As an individual. I go out to protest with my family. We all believe in democracy."
"Kornit" considered withdrawing money from Israel as an act of protest, or moving operations abroad?
"We have 650 million dollars on the balance sheet, part of it is invested abroad and part of it in Israel. We are well balanced in the distribution of funds and at this stage there is no intention to change anything."
Don't investors require you to protect their money, out of fear of the regime change?
"Investors want to understand how we see the situation. I want to believe that the voices in Israel that have been silent for so many years, are making their voices heard and will bring balance to the judicial system. Democracy must not be harmed. It will be destructive. I believe and want to be optimistic."
The grandparents of Samuel, 55, fled Germany during the war and survived the Holocaust.
A grandfather on my father's side, who was a farmer, immigrated to Israel and bought a plot of land in Kfar Shmariahu, when it was still a rural settlement, and worked around the clock in the orchard and chicken coops.
When little Ronan visited him on weekends, he would help him take care of the chickens and plant potatoes.
Mother's family fled from Europe to Argentina, and she immigrated to Israel alone at the age of 19, and met his father in Kibbutz Sde Nehemiah, where he was an outside child.
They got married and moved to Bat Yam.
He grew up in Bat Yam, in high school he studied economics, dreamed of taking a pilot's course, became a helicopter pilot and was one of the founders of the Apache squadron, did a six-month exchange in the USA and after his release studied business administration and law at Interdisciplinary, did an internship and decided that law was not for him I ask him if he understands the hearts of the pilots who announced that they will not show up for training if the legislation passes the Knesset, he says that he has enormous respect and appreciation for the pilots and fighters.
"These are people who gave all their time and energy for the benefit of the country. There are no people who believe more deeply and believe in the country than them. Labeling them as traitors and refusers is a great injustice. Not one of them said that he would not enlist if there was an attack and they called him. Many of them are leaders of companies in the market and we need to listen to them, because their statement came out of concern. We need to have a conversation and not come with regularity of disdain, insults and go to hell. It is not clear to me how these words can be said from the stage of the Knesset these days. They will continue to contribute and it is important to hear them."
More in Walla!
Tens of thousands have already joined a groundbreaking and life-saving medical service
Served on behalf of Shachel
"As an individual. I go out to protest with my family. We all believe in democracy." (Photo: Reuven Castro)
likes to dress up
He came to Hi-Tech with a rich technical background in the Air Force, and started his career as a product manager at the "Indigo" company.
When the company was acquired by HP, he relocated to Singapore with his wife and two daughters and managed the company's printing division and lived on airplanes between Australia, Japan and China. After eight years they moved from East Asia to Barcelona and Samuel became the manager of the printing business division in Europe. Yuval Cohen, Yo Rabbi Kornit and founder of the Partisimo Foundation contacted him after five years in the position and brought him back to Israel.
"The older daughter, who was 18, was accepted to study economics and psychology at the university she really wanted in Scotland. Two weeks before we returned to Israel, she announced that she was enlisting, and it was the best thing that ever happened to her. The youngest, who was 16, took the transition more difficult, so she studied at an American school. She was afraid to enlist and only when we escorted her to the UNSC, suddenly something was released in her and she fell in love with the army and went to an officer course in the Air Force."
His entry into Kornit was smooth.
The chairman and CEO he replaced chose him together, because of his knowledge of printing presses, and according to him, they made him a perfect baton transfer.
"I like to dress and fashion has always felt me, in the sense of its connection to self-expression. It is the best mirror in the mirror of who you are emotionally and authentically. The world of fashion was then before the great revolution of the transition to digital. 25 years ago, Amazon, which was a small company selling books, Started selling books online. They offered to buy a digital book that could be printed using HP technology. Suddenly you could buy books from a hundred years ago.
"It created a revolution. Not only can you buy any book you want, anyone can write a book and print it digitally and if someone wants to order it, they can decide whether to read it digitally or in print. This revolution is happening today in the world of fashion, which was previously built on Giants like Zara and Nike, they would all buy the same thing and the production was in large quantities. The digital world allows every designer to upload an infinite number of his models to the websites, and only when the final customer chooses the garment, is he invited. "Amazon is the biggest customer of Kornit
They have a very large amount of our printing machines, each of which costs over half a million dollars, and they print the shirt, the sweatshirt, long or short sleeve, tight or wide, with one print or another, and after it is ordered it is sewn and sent to the customer's home , with the goal being to reach him the same day.
The new world is built from hundreds of thousands on small brands, like SHEIN, that no one knew.
This is a technology company that releases 8,000 new models every day.
The members of the younger generation don't want to look like everyone else, but to be special and pay cheap."
"We thought that the growth would continue, but there was normalization and the audience returned to buy in Pisi" (Photo: Reuven Castro)
Depends on performance
In the days of the Corona virus, when everyone had to buy clothes from afar, Kornit recorded a meteoric rise and at its peak its value reached six billion dollars, but at the end the company lost five billion shekels and today it is traded with a market value of only one billion dollars.
"We thought that the growth would continue, but there was normalization and the audience returned to buying in physical. Because our customers bought a lot of machines in the two years of the epidemic, in 2022, they did not need more, so there was a significant decrease in sales, damage to the stock and we had to say goodbye to 10% of the workforce, which which hurt us a lot. We expect a return to profitability in the second half of 2023."
Your salary increase was criticized during a difficult period for the company.
"It is not about a salary increase, but a benefits package. My salary did not increase by a shekel, nor did the bonuses. In Nasdaq, there is a push to reward the CEO of Equity. The stock package I receive depends on performance."
"We bring messages of the new ideal of beauty to the runway, with all sizes, all ages" (Photo: Reuven Castro)
No design limitations
Tel Aviv is not the only city where Kornit presents its technological capabilities, through fashion designs.
She also produces such events in London and Los Angeles, when the designers receive an assignment a month before the show and are supposed to produce the materials quickly, with the message being that there is no need for six months of planning, designing, measuring, cutting and sewing, but that all of this can be done quickly and efficiently.
"In digital printing technology there is no design limit, you can design as many models as you want and there is no quantity limit - in the past you had to produce in masses to be economical and today you can create one model if you want and a different model on a different fabric. Everything is open. Besides, there is sustainability which is very important to us. Fashion and textiles are considered the second polluter after oil. In the production process there is a tremendous waste of water and pollution of streams. Unlike in the past, we use pigment ink that does not require washing and water. Statistics say that in mass production, about 30% is not sold and is destroyed.
"We bring messages of the new ideal of beauty to the track, with all sizes, all ages, you will find 90-year-old women with us, full-figured women, all sexes, all colors, all are beautiful and all want to present themselves."
This pluralistic view conflicts with the conservative worldview of the government.
Kornit believes in inclusion, equality and pluralism.
Unfortunately, this has not happened in the last two months."
Will you shut down the company as part of the protest?
"We give our employees the option to choose whether to protest or not, and we don't judge anyone.
As a company, we are not part of the political struggle, but the democratic one."
High-tech companies report an increase in demand for relocation.
"Unfortunately, here too.
When jobs open up abroad, there are many more applications than in the past. If they used to think three times, today they are satisfied with twice. I think relocation is a good thing, I was in relocation, but it should not come from a place of escape. We have an amazing country.
"We have an amazing country. I will fight until the last moment" (Photo: Reuven Castro)