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Currie Group – Setting benchmarks for industry service: Print21 magazine cover feature

Monday, 13 August 2018
By Print21
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Currie Group has one of the largest support teams in the industry.

Contemporary printing is a technology-driven manufacturing industry. In factories and shops around Australia & New Zealand it utilizes sophisticated machinery, software, computers and workflows, frequently operating 24/7. In order to achieve optimum productivity everything in the complex process needs to perform reliably and as expected. When the unexpected fault occurs service response in terms of time and expertise becomes the crucial factor. That’s where the Currie Care Centre comes in.

It’s no coincidence that Currie Group, the largest independent equipment supplier to the graphic arts industry across Australia and New Zealand, has one of the largest service teams in the industry. Almost 70 years ago the company started out as service engineers in Melbourne under Bill Currie, father of current executive chairman, David Currie. As printing engineers the business thrived for many years before transforming into the high-profile technology supplier that is today’s Currie Group.

One thing that hasn’t changed in the company’s journey towards modernity and the future is the service ethos that first brought it recognition and reputation. The benchmark of the printing industry service offering is the Currie Care Centre, informed by the tradition of ensuring printers can rely confidently on expert knowledge and prompt service response times.

Marcus Robinson’s approach as service manager Australia & New Zealand is deeply influenced by Currie Group culture. Starting out by serving his electrical apprenticeship with the company, he’s spent most of his 19 years there looking out for the service needs of the widest range of Australian and New Zealand commercial printers and label converters. From HP Indigo digital printing, Horizon finishing, Cron CTP and Scodix digital embellishing, Robinson has earned a reputation of being one of the best service professionals in the region.

There is a down to earth pragmatism about the Currie Care Centre and Robinson that likely draws its inspiration from how it all began. Trade credentials are recognised as important as college degrees. “When I started I was fixing offset presses, but then one day I was called into the office to answer the phone when someone was sick. That’s a long time ago and I’ve never been back on the tools since.

“A lot has changed since then, the company has grown, the industry has evolved and diversified but one thing that has remained strong is our loyal customers, some who have been with us for over 50 years. We must be doing something right.”

A measure of the importance attached to his role by the Group can be seen in the number of employees that are dedicated to providing service. Over 60 percent of all the individuals that work within Currie Group are in the operations team, focused on delivering service via the Currie Care Centre. Through the Centre ‘Currie Care’ is a service contract offering whose benefits Robinson is continually promoting. Although not every customer signs on he’s convinced it makes good sense.

“We promote Currie Care because it works for printers. When you sign on you know there’ll be no unbudgeted costs; it helps with business planning and peace of mind with no unexpected spare parts or engineer labour costs. We work on a monthly charge basis that our Currie Care customers incorporate into their budgets. We carry out planned preventative maintenance throughout the year to ensure machines are operating at optimal performance to prevent machinery break down’s or any unplanned stoppages. It lets us work very proactively with our customers,” said Robinson.

 

The Currie Care Centre is staffed by experts to solve problems remotely.

HP Indigo is the premier digital production press brand in the industry with machines serving commercial printing, labels and packaging. It led printing towards its digital destiny and is still blazing the trail in new forms and methods of production. No new technology emerges without teething problems and the Currie Care Centre and Robinson have been at the forefront of printing’s engagement with digital technology. The challenges faced along the way helped define the professionalism and sophistication

of the current service response. As the company responsible for every aspect of the brand in the local market, Currie Group had to up-skill from its traditional expertise to servicing the latest in high technology electronics, computers and high-speed data transmission.

To meet this challenge Robinson embarked on recruiting graduates with the required skill sets.

“Gone are the days when we were only looking for electricians or fitters and turners. Now we want skilled engineers, university trained or industry experienced recruits with the right background. Our graduate program has been a great success. We recruit people straight out of university. These are candidates without industry experience, coming to us straight from university or further education. They’ve done a four to five-year degree. We hire them, train them and buddy them up with a senior engineer who takes them on the road and mentors them. So far, we’ve had nineteen people go through our graduate program over the past eight years,” he said.

Training is at the heart of the Currie Care Centre ethos. With an end-to-end portfolio of equipment, it’s vital to keep engineers up to speed with new releases.

“We’re very proactive about sending our people for training, whether it’s local in our state-of-the-art training centre, Israel, Japan or elsewhere. It’s investing good money in our people to make sure they’ve got the best background and training in the products. We do have specialists but try to keep a broad spread of skills across all equipment.”

Currie Group provides training for its HP Indigo press operators to the highest possible standard and having highly skilled customer operators combined with the remote capabilities of the Care Centre provides a formidable solution for fast diagnosis and the resolution of issues as they arise.

“Overall, it’s a dynamic team, we have a great mix of experienced engineers who’ve been with us for many years in conjunction with upcoming graduates. We recently held an internal training seminar for our product specialists and team leaders in our Melbourne Training Centre and after a quick poll we tallied three hundred plus years of Indigo experience in the room… now that’s unique,” said Robinson.

“We are currently expanding, looking to hire talented service personnel in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and New Zealand and I’m always happy to hear from prospective candidates.”

Right people, right place

“We provide an unmatched service;” Marcus Robinson, service manager, ANZ.

Providing service to the graphic arts industry has always been a matter of striking the right balance between investment and results. The debate continues as to whether service should be regarded as a profit or cost centre. What’s certain is that without it there would be a lot less value delivered to Currie Group customers. The development of the Currie Care Centre with state of art remote diagnostic tools has gone a long way towards increasing reach without necessarily breaking the budget.

“Ten percent of our service team operate from the Currie Care Centre, this is a team of highly skilled engineers who run diagnostics and work with customers to resolve problems remotely. It helps avoid a site visit resulting in our customers being back in production faster,” said Robinson.

Few organisations in the printing industry have the geographic spread of Currie Group, with service engineers in every major city throughout Australia & New Zealand.

“Every Currie Group customer has a dedicated primary site engineer who gets to know the press, the operator and the workflow. It’s like always getting your car serviced by the same mechanic. When a customer calls in we’ll despatch the primary site engineer and if they’re elsewhere then of course another engineer is sent,” he said.

Robinson believes his operation is unique in the industry due to its end-to-end service. Currie Group is the largest independent supplier when it comes to servicing the largest range of equipment. “It’s hard to say who has the largest service organisation. From a helicopter view I believe we’re the largest across the industry in end-to-end service. We have such a plethora of service offerings. We provide an unmatched service,” he said.

There’s no doubt that a lot of the drive and commitment to the Currie Care Centre originates from David Currie. At a time when many organisations in the printing industry are cutting back on service numbers, Robinson is grateful for the full support he gets from the boss for his current expansion. It’s a commitment much appreciated.

“David Currie is a great supporter of our service operations; he backs us all the way. I’m sure it’s because of how he started in business.” 21

 

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