BUSINESS NEWS

by Dan Lavin

Year of rebuilding ahead for NeXT's new chief of Europe

Redwood City, CA NeXT has taken another step in the rebuilding of its European organization with the hiring last month of Bernhard Woebker as its vice- president for Europe.

The entire NeXT European organization will report to Woebker, with Paul Vais, former acting vice-president, returning to his permanent position as technical director for Europe. Woebker will also replace Vais as Europe's representative to NeXT's policy-setting team.

The German-born Woebker spent 16 years at Siemans-Nixdorf, in its direct-sales division, before going to Pyramid Technology as its senior vice-president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Woebker will be stationed in NeXT's Munich office, along with Herbert Schwab, recently appointed head of finance and administration for Europe, while Vais and Randall Sosnick, who is responsible for legal and human relations for NeXT Europe, will be stationed in Paris.

NeXT President Peter van Cuylenburg said that Woebker was selected because of his experience with the leveraged direct-selling model that NeXT has instituted worldwide.NeXT Europe previously worked through a network of many small dealers, so Woebker will start from scratch in building a new sales organization. That rebuilding process, estimated Woebker, will take from nine to sixteen months.

The plan calls for three or four sales teams in the major European countries, each targeting a small number of large companies. Smaller companies will be served by large, value-added dealers working in tandem with the direct sales force.

Woebker said he feels confident that he can achieve major gains in Europe. "I had four times the sales of NeXT Europe while I was at Pyramid, with the same staff. Staffing is not the issue. Marketing is not even the issue. Proper sales approach is the issue," he said.When deciding to come to NeXT Europe, Woebker said he had two concerns. Questions about the company's financial security were answered by the new financing from Canon, while van Cuylenburg, himself a European, gave Woebker solid commitments that Europe was, and would remain, a priority for NeXT worldwide.