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Combined dominant player to service 90% of ANZ printing roller market

Wednesday, 17 April 2019
By Patrick Howard

“We love rollers.” Terry Brissett and Franz-Georg Heggemann at the opening of Bottcher Australia’s new plant.

The Bottcher Systems buyout of Brissett Rollers creates a manufacturing and service company of scale in Australia using the best aspects of both companies. Under Mitch Mulligan, managing director, it intends to meet the expectations of the market with a combination of German imports and local roller manufacturing.

The two well-established businesses share a history of family ownership. Bottcher Australia is part of  a German-based, family-owned manufacturer with a history of 400 years: Brissett Rollers was owned by Terry Brissett who has been engaged in the roller manufacturing business in Australia for the past 60 years.

A new factory at Smithfield houses a strategic selection of roller manufacturing equipment transferred from the former Brissett site at Arncliffe, along with a national warehouse for imported rollers, press chemistries and other consumables.

Support your local roller company: Craig Dunsford, executive general manager, Northern Region at Ovato, with Mitch Mulligan, managing director, Bottcher Australia.

At an opening event last night Franz-Georg Heggemann, CEO of Felix Bottcher, paid tribute to Brissett, founder and owner of Brissett Rollers, and Mitch Mulligan, managing director of the local company, for their efforts in bringing the merger to fruition. He claims the new enterprise, employing the skills of both teams, will be able to meet 90 per cent of the roller requirements of the Australian and New Zealand market. Imported rollers will continue to meet the needs of the huge commercial offset sector while production of customised rollers for the heatset web sector will ensure the established reliable and quick turnaround. A further range of rollers for the packaging and industrial sectors will also be made at the site.

According to Heggemann, the Australian manufacturing site is the 26th plant opened around the world at a time of vigorous expansion. The company has service facilities in 18 different countries although all the compounds are manufactured at the headquarters in Germany. He expects there will be further expansion of the types of rollers Bottcher Australia makes when the local industry becomes aware of its capabilities. The expanded local company employs a total of 24 individuals, with a number of Brissett staff making the transfer.

He made the point that the company operates on family values, making plans for the long-term sustainability of the company. He sees his role as being responsible to pass it on to the next generation in good shape. Customers are assured that Bottcher Australia will be part of their future, as it has been for the past 21 years since Mulligan first opened a branch here.

“We are the number one roller manufacturer in the world, and because we are family owned values are maintained. I am the eighth generation of the family, and already the ninth is ready to take charge,” he said. “We love the roller business.”

Bottcher first began producing rollers 140 years ago, having previously been active in the leather and glue trade.

A major R&D focus in Germany leverages that country’s world leading chemical engineering culture, evaluating up to 3000 new compounds and formulas every year. Of those, 300 are selected for trialling but only 30 are ever brought to market. Despite having over 800 compounds in production none are the subject of patents, which would require the publication of their makeup. All are manufactured under strict secrecy with their ingredients representing valuable IP for the company. The genial CEO assured me with a smile the company is not above adding extra unnecessary ingredients to foil any attempts at reverse engineering of the Bottcher synthetic formulas.

Bottcher Australia supplies locally manufactured rollers to the entire major web printing plants, newspaper and catalogue. Representatives of both IVE and Ovato were at the opening in a show of support. It is also the major supplier of imported rollers for the main commercial printing sector, a market so diverse and large it would be impossible to maintain an adequate stock of replacements for manufacturing.

A master of the printing roller; Terry Brissett with equipment from his former plant installed at the Smithfeld site

According to Brissett, who says he is committed to making the transition work and getting through the inevitable backlog that has built up, the expanded company is a win-win situation not only for himself and his team but also for the industry as a whole. He maintains that having a local manufacturer that can turn rollers around quickly and address specific concerns when they arise is vital for printers. “ I think the printers are very grateful that we’ve come together,” he said.

The mix of roller production is changing with the industry and Bottcher is expanding to meet demands in other sectors. Currently, depending on the individual market, packaging accounts for 40 per cent of the output with various industries including plastics and mining comprising 30 per cent to match the 30 per cent going to ‘classical printing.’

The new plant and warehouse is now open for business. With it the Australia printing industry has the back-up of a local roller manufacturer making for a sustainable future.

 

 

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Team Brissett has moved to its new home.

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