Archive for December, 2007

  • “Don’t do every printing job that comes along” – Bernard Schreier

    Printers who do not differentiate between jobs but try to take all the work that comes their way are unlikely to survive in the new competitive print market, according to Bernard Schreier, ceo of Heidelberg, who was in Melbourne last week for the opening of the Heidelberg HQ. He spoke with Patrick Howard.

    Operating an undifferentiated strategy is no longer a viable plan for the future with too many printers chasing the same diminishing amount work. Although the visiting ceo of the world’s largest press manufacturer is decidedly upbeat about the prospects of printing in general, he claims that, by and large, printing companies are not making sufficient profit margin on their work. Much of this he attributes to a lack of specialisation, with too many printers operating without a considered market approach or business plan.

     

     
    Bernard Schreier (right) with his regional management team (from left) Glenn Plummer, general manager marketing and product management, Andy Vels Jensen, managing director HAN and Bent Mortensen, head of region Asia Pacific.

    There is good money to be made in printing with Heidelberg’s own healthy balance sheet serving as a fair indication of the robust health of the printing industry as a whole. But rather like the press manufacturer itself, which divested its non-core activities in web and digital press manufacturing to concentrate on its sheetfed workflow, the rewards will only be achieved by those printers who have a clear and creative business plan.

    Confirming that the overall amount of print on paper is no longer growing in industrialised countries, Schreier maintains that business share will only be won by those companies that are able to achieve greater productivity in such areas as shorter delivery times. “Overall, be consistent in your strategy. Don’t try to do everything,” he advised during his visit to Melbourne to open the new Heidelberg HQ at Notting Hill.

    Doing the business at drupa

    Dubbing the upcoming drupa as the “the business drupa,” he confirmed the primacy of sound commercial strategies over the implementation of technology. Or perhaps that should be, along with the implementation of technology, as Heidelberg moves towards ever larger presses in the XL range. He quotes approvingly of the fight back by German printers against invasion of low cost printing from the former Eastern Bloc countries. By upgrading their equipment (Germany has the most XL 105s in the world) and developing innovative printing methods, German printers are winning back a lot of the work that went to the east.

    Schreier draws a parallel with the threat from China to Australian and New Zealand printers. He is sanguine about the dangers, emphasizing that everyone in the world is facing the same type of challenges. The key is to increase productivity by implementing digital workflows and to integrate production from prepress through the system. An avowed enthusiast for seamless electronic production control, he believes that with more Australian and New Zealand printers stepping up to the mark and upgrading their equipment, the local industry is quite capable of holding its own against overseas competition.

    From little things big things grow

    The revolution in large-format, long perfectors that Heidelberg kicked off has undoubtedly changed the dynamics of the industry. Moving on from the introduction of the XL 105 Schreier flagged even larger presses for drupa, with an emphasis on the requirements of the packaging industry. With 18,000 sph and an ever larger format the goal is higher throughput and productivity.

    Although the Speedmaster CD 102 is the largest single press model rolling off the production line, Schreier is also keen to promote the company’s continuing stake in small offset. He is enthusiastic about the Anicolor dampening technology that has made offset a serious contender once again in the battle for short run printing against digital presses. Fitted to the SM 52, which can be configured into a long perfector for even greater productivity, it is a remarkable technology advance, producing press-ready sheets within the first ten to come off the press.

    While in Melbourne Bernard Schreier visited Gunn & Taylor where he admired an SM 52 working alongside an SM102 and CD 102. He is a firm advocate of mixing and matching different press sizes in the production mix.

    The view from Heidelberg reflects the received wisdom that consolidation will continue in the industry with printing companies growing larger. According to Bernard Schreier, Heidelberg is uniquely placed as the only company that can supply these modern printing plants with the complete equipment workflow from prepress, through press to finishing. With no plans to enter the digital or the inkjet sector, he is putting into practice his belief in not trying to be all things to all people.

  • Strength in numbers – new Agfa :Anapurna distributors join forces to support customers

    Three of Agfa Graphics’ newest :Anapurna printer distributors have teamed together to provide support to wide format printing customers across the country. The recently-formed alliance of leading sign industry suppliers iMedia, Project Engraving and Digital, and Sign Essentials, has strengthened Agfa’s :Anapurna sales channel and allows the distributors to share technical information, product knowledge, and marketing strategies. While the companies remain individually owned and operated, the cooperative arrangement will strengthen their local sales and service support.

    “It’s a winning situation all round," explains Steve Taylor, Agfa’s Oceania inkjet business manager. "Working together has real advantages for the three companies and Agfa see this as a real strength."

    "They have a long track record in selling products to our target markets, especially in signage. While Agfa has always been a market leader in graphics and printing prepress, signage is not a traditionally-strong area for us, so it’s good to deal with experienced companies with well-established sales and support channels and strong industry knowledge."

    Collectively, the distributors have already sold over ten :Anapurna machines,
    including the first XL2 model in the region. Going forward they will offer the full :Anapurna industrial inkjet range – in Victoria and Tasmania through iMedia, with Project Engraving handling New South Wales, Western Australia and Northern Territory, and Sign Essentials looking after Queensland. Agfa will provide all service, maintenance and installation as well as distributor sales training and technical support.

    All three companies are long-time Roland agents and share a mutual respect and
    business ideals. The new Agfa distributorships have consolidated this long-standing relationship, with Sean Strange of Sign Essentials the first to sign up. Adrian Holdaway of Project Engraving and Chris Lewis-Williams at iMedia rounded out the network soon after.

    "We were getting enquiries for flatbed UV machines but didn’t have a solution so we were looking for alternatives," says Strange. "Coincidently, Agfa were looking at their distribution for the :Anapurna printers."

    "The main advantage is marketing-wise. We can promote the product by advertising
    together and we can share product information, how installs have gone, and
    feedback from our customers – generally pooling our knowledge. We also share
    leads."

    While each company concentrates on its particular state-based market, interstate
    enquires are received. The new group provides an avenue for handing on those
    leads safely.

    "At Project Engraving and Digital, we want to give our customers [in NSW and WA]
    the best local support we can," explains Holdaway, "but if we try to support those outside our states we’d be stretching ourselves too far. The best way of using my resources is to send them to other suppliers but I still want the customers to build good relationships with their supplier. Having a loose alliance between like-minded business people does that."

    With customers entering the sales process more informed these days (thanks
    especially to the internet, says iMedia’s Lewis-Williams) sharing resources amongst themselves and Agfa is a distinct advantage.

    "We’d never thought to co-market before but from a cost perspective, it’s very good. For example, being able to share the cost of placing ads in national print magazines means we can spend some more money locally," he says.

    "Agfa has its own engineers to do the installations and back support and that allows us to concentrate on selling. We’re usually the first point of call for our customers because we sell them their supplies, but if there’s something we can’t help them with then we have the backup of Agfa too."

  • Print promo film makes national TV

    Those who intend to spend Christmas in front of the TV will be able to catch Printing Industries‘ promotional film, Imagine: A World Without Print?

    Broadcast on Foxtel/Austar (Aurora Channel 183) between 5-6pm on the SkillsOne segment, Printing is Not Just Black and White and will become a feature on the SkillsOne website.

    Printing Industries CEO Philip Andersen, commended the Institute for Trade Skills Excellence who established SkillsOne television, an innovative web and television initiative to promote and raise the status of Australia skill based careers. It is produced by the Australian Channel who also produce the Rock Eisteddfod and CrockFest both of which showcase the talents of school children.

    "I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for the printing industry to be able to reach out this way to young people and their families and to career councillors across Australia to tell them about the career opportunities in our industry," he said.

    "The timing is also excellent with many students on holiday and looking at new career opportunities. Our film will give them a completely new insight and understanding of the industry and the many career paths available to both young men and women."

    Printing Industries national technology and communications manager, Joe Kowalewski, writer and co-producer of the film, said that since its release at the beginning of 2007 it had been featured at events around the country.

    "It has been distributed through the high school education network, given to government politicians and bureaucrats at all levels and used extensively within the industry by companies needing to induct new employees as well as attract school leavers and educate people about the important and often taken for granted role of print in the communication world," he said.

    "The SkillsOne project takes our industry to a new level of community awareness through its innovative use of television and the internet to provide young people and careers advisers with a dynamic source of information.

    "I encourage everyone to pass the word around about the broadcasts and tune in at 5pm. We will keep everyone informed on when the website components are available."

    Copies of the Imagine: A World Without Print? DVD are available from all Printing Industries offices and it can also be downloaded from the association’s website www.printnet.com.au.

  • Drupa unwrapped roadshow planned

    Drupa Unwrapped is the theme of a national roadshow being planned by Printing Industries to showcase drupa in July 2008.

    The roadshow will cover all states bringing the drupa releases, innovations and experiences to those unable to attend the two-week extravaganza in Düsseldorf. Details will be released early in the New Year.

    For those who are attending drupa, Aussie camaraderie is high on the agenda to keep them in touch with their English speaking colleagues via a series of Happy Hours and Aussie Night BBQs that will be staged during each of the two drupa weeks from 29 May – 11 June 2008.

    The BBQs will be held each Sunday of drupa (1st and 8th June) and bookings for these ticket-only events are now being accepted. Contact Theresa at Printing Industries on (02) 8789 7300 or by e-mail supadrupa@printnet.com.au

    The Happy Hours are held on various nights from 7pm in each of the weeks and are run as Aussie get-togethers by various suppliers. These are still being finalised.

    Companies wishing to sponsor a Happy Hour or Aussie Night BBQs should contact joe@printnet.com.au for scheduling or further information. 

    A choice of seven supa drupa tours is available for travellers along with a range of flight options on all major airlines. Contact Gerd or Helmut at Landmark Travel on (02) 9977 7100 for information.

  • LATMA leaves its mark on the SCG

    This year’s LATMA AGM and Christmas party were held at the historic SCG giving the 85-plus crowd the opportunity for refreshments at the exclusive Members Only bar.

    The night began with an SCG tour that took in the home dressing room which as seen many past players donning the colours including Allan Border, Shane Warne and the Waugh brothers and current stars Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Adam Gilchrist.

    A quick stride across the hallowed SCG turf (pictured) and into the cricket museum to experience a step-back-into the mid 1800’s. Photos and priceless memorabilia honoured many famous Australian cricketers including Donald Bradman and Dr W.G.Grace.

    LATMA NSW Vice President John Leathart opened the AGM. Outgoing President Frank Gavrilos spoke on what LATMA has achieved over the past 12 months and what its plans for the future.

    A DVD showcasing LATMA’s new apprentice initiative in the label sector was screened and special mention made of TAFE NSW for the efforts and assistance in the project.

    Gavrilos said that LATMA is currently looking at the logistics of the association becoming a national body. The AGM also passed two changes to the constitution allowing the membership base to be expanded.

    The election for the new committee took place and the 2008 LATMA NSW Committee includes:

    President – Kevin Murphy (Aldus Engineering)
    Vice President – John Leathart (Pegasus Print Group)
    Treasurer – Martin Cornish (JET Technologies)
    Committee Member – William Killinger (UPM Raflatac)
    Committee Member – Scott Beadman (Hills Labels)
    Committee Member – Trevor Crowley (Fujifilm Sericol)

    New president Kevin Murphy thanked the incoming committee and urged the crowd to participate in the association and its many activates in 2008. He announced that the successful Charity Golf day raised over $7,000 for the Children’s Hospital.

  • Government urged to give go ahead on closing Goprint

    Another government printing office faces closure following a report prepared by the Queensland Service Delivery and Performance Commission.

     

    The report reveals that between 20 June 2000 and 30 June 2007 Goprint suffered loses of more than $37 million. The report cites that the failure of Goprint was due to the competitive nature of the industry; its rapidly changing technology and the difficulty a public sector service provider has keeping up with these changes; an inability to attract staff and insufficient work flow to achieve cost effective utilisation of equipment.

    For Printing Industries in Queensland, which has campaigned over several years for its closure as a taxpayer subsidised competitor in the Queensland print market, the report is proof of the association’s opposition to Goprint.

     "We hope to speak with the Premier to encourage adoption of the recommendations and to offer whatever resources and support we can to help the transition of any Goprint employee who wishes to leave to work in the private sector," said Neal McLary, general manager of Printing Industries, Queensland.

    "We will be reminding the government that the industry is suffering a major skills shortage across most of our trade and semi skilled areas."

    McLary said the report recommends that the Government move to establish a parliamentary printing service (digital facility) for the production of Hansard and confidential parliamentary documents. This facility would be under the control of the Queensland Parliamentary Service.

    A Print Management Unit would be established as a ‘whole of government’ resource facility to manage the State Government’s print requirements which are conservatively estimated to be in the $80 to $100 million range. The Unit would provide a co-ordinated interface between Government and private sector suppliers and be based in the Department of Public Works.

    "In past discussions with Government representatives, we have always held to a position that the Queensland printing industry at large should be the prime source of all the Queensland Government’s print requirements. We believe that regional printers should not be disadvantaged by any changes, and that any existing arrangements private sector printers have with Government Departments should not be unilaterally dismantled by the Government as a result of any changes flowing from any ‘whole of government’ changes to print purchasing," Mr McLary said.

    "We will hold to this position in our future discussions. While the Government will certainly be looking for a more cost effective purchasing model and one within the bounds of ‘good government’ in any changes implemented, we believe the Government broadly shares our view on these points."

    Goprint currently employs around 100 people and the proposed new structure requires less than 40 employees.

  • $12 million regional HQ for Heidelberg opens in Vic

    The culmination of a personal vision by Andy Vels Jensen, managing director of Heidelberg Australia and New Zealand, the ultra-modern facility was opened on Friday by Victorian Premier, John Brumby and Bernard Schreier, CEO of Heidelberg. The fast-tracked centre of print excellence at Notting Hill is now available for a wide range of industry activities. 

    Premier Brumby praised Heidelberg for its investment in Victoria, whihc he said vindicted the government’s strategy of encouraging high-tech companies. He said the Victoria was the fastest growing state in the country, creating more jobs than any other, especially in the high value manufacturing sector.

    Following the official ribbon cutting, an invitation only crowd that included some of the largest printers in the region, partied into the night. Bernard Schreier, who had flown in from Germany the day before, manfully battled jet lag to dleiver at least three speeches on the day, the last to the dinner audience of his companies major customers in the region.

    The new premises were opened with a high level presence from both state politics and Heidelberg corporate.  Guest of honour was Victorian Premier John Brumby (right) pictured with (from left) Bent Mortensen, head of region Asia Pacific, Andy Vels Jensen, managing director HAN and Bernard Schreier, CEO Heidelberg.

    The inauguration of the HQ provides the printing industry with the latest in meeting and educational facilities, according to Vels Jensen. Available for clients’ activities as well as general industry meetings, the centrally located Notting Hill building will also house the region’s enlarged Print Media Academy.

    “When we were deciding where to locate the building we drew lines that formed a triangle based on our customers, employees’ and suppliers’ requirements,” said Vels Jensen. “The board fast tracked approval and while you never get anything perfect so far I would not have done anything differently.”

    The new premises in Notting Hill in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs house a state-of-the-art 1,000 square metre showroom and training centre that will accommodate Heidelberg’s Print Media Academy (PMA). Designed specifically to cater for the future needs of Heidelberg’s customers and staff, the new facility is a hi-tech blend of print production systems combined with teaching and training resources (including its own in-house café) for hands-on as well as theoretical instruction. All stages of the print production process are featured including finishing and a prepress Prinect suite. Equally, the space can be used in a flexible manner to host non-technical training, business courses and conferences.

    As a showcase for Heidelberg equipment and systems and a centre of excellence rivaling anything operating worldwide, the new headquarters form an important part of the vision for HAN promoted by managing director, Andy Vels Jensen. It’s a vision that sees the new facility with its up-to-date technical, training and demonstration facilities as a focal point for the entire print industry, not just Heidelberg customers.

    “The intention is to make the PMA here a centre of excellence for training and education because that’s what we miss as a company and also what the industry misses,” he comments. “We intend to make much more out of it from an external training point of view and, in fact, we’re going to kick off the next financial year with a complete training plan for the industry and for ourselves.”

    Behind the vision though, there are other practical reasons why the move to Notting Hill should prove to be such a successful one for HAN. For a start, by moving out of inner-city Richmond, the company has moved closer to its customer base. Major Heidelberg users such as Geon and Blue Star are located nearby along with many other printers within easy reach. This not only makes it quicker for Heidelberg staff to reach their clients but also more convenient for customers to make their way to the Heidelberg facilities.

    Moving to Notting Hill also has positive cost benefits for the company, providing it with a secure long-term base for its business and a custom-designed space that is, in fact, more cost-effective than the previous inner-city location. All in all, it’s no surprise that the relocation made such a compelling proposal that the Heidelberg board in Germany had no hesitation in recommending its go-ahead, giving it the stamp of approval within just 10 days of the proposal being presented. Now on the eve of its opening, Andy Vels Jensen is clearly proud of what has been accomplished.
    “There’s been hard work at times but overall it’s a been a fun, exciting experience and the results are very positive,” he adds.

  • Green paper guide is weight off buyers’ shoulders

    Choosing the right paper has never been harder in an age where every decision leaves an environmental footprint. Finsbury Green believes that it has taken care of this with the launch of its Green Paper Guide.

    The manufacture of paper is the largest challenge facing the Australian print industry, according to environmental and technical manager, Rodney Wade. "Historically, paper and pulp production has been a dirty and polluting activity; however, over the past ten years the paper industry has changed dramatically throughout all parts of the world," he said.

    "The most significant changes have been in pulp derived from sustainable, well-managed forests where trees are grown specifically for paper production."

    Classifying different specialities as either ‘good’ or ‘better’, the guide aims to educate buyers about the best way to meet printing demands and help to conserve water, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste to landfill in the process.

    Wade said that the interest in using FSC products meant that there was a considerable amount of viable paper to chose from. "Currently, the uptake of FSC paper is being driven very strongly by corporate Australia, which has been incredibly responsive to the use of sustainable paper," he said.

    "Today, paper is made in many environmentally responsible forms."

  • Kodak choses Gustavo as vice president

    Gustavo Oviedo is appointed vice president of the Eastman Kodak Company by its board of directors.

    The appointment, which is effective immediately, is another milestone for Oviedo, 55, who was appointed managing director, Asia Pacific Region, Eastman Kodak Company in March 2007. He also serves as managing director, Asia Pacific Region for Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group, a position he assumed in 2006 following Kodak’s acquisition of Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG). In this role, Oviedo is responsible for the entire Kodak business and strategic product portfolio in the region.

    With a career spanning more than 25 years working in Latin America, Asia and Europe, Oviedo also has deep industrial operations management experience. Before joining Kodak (KPG), he spent over 20 years with Schneider Electric, a leader in electromechanical and electronic products, where he held positions of increasing responsibility in country management and his portfolio included distribution, logistics, sales and marketing, business development, and strategic mergers & acquisitions.

    Oviedo earned a business degree from The Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina. His diverse education includes participating in advanced management programs at Duke University, Dartmouth University, and the Schneider Professional Manager program – a six-month program organized by universities in Paris, Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.

  • New national president takes the reins of Printing Industries

    Jim Atkinson is a local identity throughout the Tasmanian printing industry. Now that he’s been elected national president of Printing Industries, his reputation is about to expand.

    Atkinson takes up the role from the start of the new year and is thrilled by the appointment. "It’s an honour," he said modestly.

    With 40 years of experience in printing, the decision to run for national president was a way for Atkinson to impart his wisdom back onto those in the industry – especially the young.

    "I want to give something back to the industry that I’ve worked in for more than 40 years," he said. "I am a big believer in the need for a strong association and I want to build on the work done by staff to revitalise the association and continue its relevance for the industry."

    Atkinson’s first involvement in printing stretches back to England from where he hails. Undertaking a management traineeship with Thomas De La Rue, he went on to work in a number of production and marketing positions before flying to Australia, the state where his wife was born.

    "I like the lifestyle in Tasmania," he said, "you can get things done in a small state."

    At the once Mercury Walsh, (now GEON), he became a sales representative and, despite offers from other companies in other states, remained in various sales roles for the rest of his career. Retiring one-and-a-half years ago, he opened his own business, Print-Related Consultancy Services.

    As Australia gave the Liberals the boot in this year’s election, Atkinson now sees it as a challenge to develop an on-going connection with the new federal government. "We have to strengthen our position on industrial relations, the environment, training and industry development," he said.

    The young hold the key to the future, according to Atkinson, who is keen to blow out the cobwebs of a profession that has copped something of a bad reputation.

    "We need to counter some of the negative perceptions that are out there, like the belief that printing is old-fashioned. It isn’t," he said. "It is a technology-driven industry but it is not threatening the environment in any way."

    Atkinson believes that printing reverberates throughout almost every facet of our lives; even when he is not working he is still engaged with print as reading is his favourite hobby.

    "What people print is useful and every order has a purpose, whether it is packaging material or a business card," he said. "Other businesses can’t survive without the printing industry in one form or the other."

  • Letters, feedback, get it off your chest: 20 December 07

    What readers had to say about last week’s news.

    Re: Rudd takes the axe to printing
     
    Is the PIAA’s outrage over proposed cuts to MPs printing allowances really warranted? 226 MPs with $100K each to spend on print is still $22.6 million and you may recall there was a scandal about abuse of Qld MP’s print allowances (‘PrintGate’ as Peter Beattie dubbed it) under the Howard increase and roll-over policy.
     
    Not sure how others found political print direct mail in the run-up to the election but the stuff I received (mostly from the Libs) was poorly written, poorly designed, with benign messages and virtually no informational value whatsoever. Straight in the bin.
     
    Candidate posters are invariably cheesy and insincere – Howard’s in Bennelong was specially so, whereas McKew’s was fresh, used yellow and … well she’s pleasing on the eye anyway.
     
    If we as an industry cry foul every time an organisation cuts a print budget (or limits junk mail as with recent Mosman Council ruling), we will be seen as wantonly advocating profligate resource wasting and environmental pollution. Why not roll with the punch and help those with messages to convey get better value out of their printed communications by good design and content, and targeted direct delivery. With shorter or variable content runs, printers make more profit.
     
    Think of oil companies protesting energy-efficient cars that reduce petrol consumption. Highly popular eh?
     
    It doesn’t need to equate to hurting the industry. We just need to print smarter, greener, add value, not print garbage and position our industry appropriately in today’s information economy. Look at the printers doing all this – they are going gangbusters.
     
    Kind regards
     
    Andy McCourt

  • Paper increases under wraps in Australia

    As the new year draws closer, one thing seems inevitable for the printing world: paper price increases.

    In the latest issue of Pulp & Paper Edge, Robert Eastment provides an analysis of the global trend and how it might impact upon Australia following discussions between mill agents and merchants.

    In the US, West Linn Paper and NewPage have announced increases of up to USD60/t from the start of 2008, while rises between five to eight per cent are suggested for Europe. In comparison, Australia presents itself as a different market.

    Eastment wrote that the AUD rise has managed to cover most of the mill-based cost increases overseas, and the cost pressure in raw materials has now reached a stage where the mill inputs have risen more than the value of the AUD.

    While the influence of Asia may hold back price increases, Eastment believes that: "The expected consequence should be the need to pass costs through since margins have well and truly been eroded."

    Eastment believes that suppliers could interfere with the process of increasing prices. "The irony is that many printers and merchants agree paper price increases in Australia and New Zealand are more than likely to be attempted in 2008, but there is a broad agreement the increases are likely to be destabilised by a handful of suppliers still placing market share before profitability," he wrote.

  • Defying conventional wisdom – Print 21 magazine article

    Just because many people believe in something doesn’t make it true, says Print 21 publisher, Patrick Howard.

    Going with the flow and running with the pack may be safer and less exhausting than being out on your own. Mavericks tend to get into trouble and tall poppies are likely to be lopped. There is no point in being contrary just for the sake of it; the world has no shortage of terrorists who haven’t got the sense not to blow themselves up. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel and the byways of irrelevance often prove to be lonely narrow tracks that peter out in dusty paddocks.

    Having said that, we should not lose sight of the fact that there is satisfaction to be gained in going your own way, in making up your own mind and following your dream. The person that never made a mistake never made anything and you’re not likely to make less of them simply by doing what others do. Comes a time when you have to take your own sighting of the lay of the land and back your own hunch. Otherwise you’ll live to regret it.

    These thoughts were brought on by the news that Alastair Hill is getting back into printing. Word is he is building a greenfield printing factory in Mount Waverly, Melbourne, where he will install at least one long perfecting press – a Heidelberg, naturally, given his track record – and be open for business early next year. For those who don’t know Alastair, a little background is in order. He is the chap who almost single-handedly kick-started the latest round of industry amalgamations and consolidation. Taking a small regional Victorian printing company, Buscombe Print, he traded and parlayed it up, merged with and took over a litany of well-known printing companies along the length and breadth of the east coast until he emerged as managing director of Penfold Buscombe, the country’s largest sheetfed printing company. (For those interested in the details, type Alastair Hill into the Search function on this page).

    By any measure it was a stunning run of success and it changed the way the industry operated and viewed itself. He brought into sharp relief the failing economics of many long-established printing companies that were stuck in a rut of traditional operational practices, without the wherewithal to invest in new equipment or the entrepreneurial drive to change the inevitable slow decline conventional wisdom had assigned them. Along the way he ruffled a few feathers, of course, breaking eggs for omelettes and failing to endear himself to those who got in his way. Some of this came back to bite him.

    Following a last throw when he took over Scanlon’s in Queensland, the Penfold Buscombe board brought in a management consultant and, in short order, Alastair was out the door, the details cloaked in conventional farewells and the usual ‘thanks for all the fish’ statements. But there were reports that it wasn’t a happy separation and Alastair went to ground, presumably to lick his wounds. Shortly afterwards, Gresham private equity bought Penfold Buscombe, merged it with its New Zealand printing properties, changed its name to Geon and installed Gordon Towel to run what is undoubtedly the largest sheetfed company in region.

    Part of Alastair’s success came with the conventional wisdom that the industry had too many small- to mid-sized players. People believed him when he said it was necessary to get big or get out. Certainly the conventional wisdom is that the industry is still in need of continuing consolidation and that there is little future for stand-alone, mid-sized printing companies. And perhaps that is true.

    But then here comes Alastair back into the game and I am told that he has no intention of starting the consolidation trail again, that he is a convert to the notion that there is an optimum size for a printing company, which is what he’s aiming at.

    And then there is Scott Telfer, a seasoned industry player, formerly marketing manager of Penfold Buscombe, before that the general manager of Tom Pongrass’s Websdale Printing prior to its acquistion by Penfold Buscombe, and before that a sales manager for Heidelberg. You have to think he knows a thing or too about the printing industry. He left Geon last Christmas and has now started up Southern Colour (NSW), and yes, you’ve guessed it; it’s a mid-sized printing company with a Heidelberg.

    So here are two guys who’ve had front row seats during the latest bout of industry consolidation and they both decide to flout conventional wisdom and dive back into the fray with small- to mid-sized printing companies.

    On this one, you’ll have to make up your own mind.

    Happy Christmas from all of us here at Print 21 and we’ll see you next year.

  • Rudd takes the axe to printing spend

    The future relationship between the new Labor Government and the printing industry gets off to a rocky start with a plan to cut $6.3 million from MP’s printing allowance.

    In August last year, the Howard government increased the allowance from $125,000 to $150,000 and added a provision that allowed a maximum $67,500 of unspent allowance to be rolled over into the next year.

    According to reports, Labor will reduce the allowance to $100,000 for the 226 MPs and Senators in order to help finance its election spending programme.

    The cuts are expected to have a serious impact on many printers, especially around election time. According to Printing Industries CEO Philip Andersen MPs should seek advice from printing companies on how to more effectively use their printing allowances.

    He said that both political parties made extravagant spending promises during the election campaign that would have to be paid for regardless of who won.
    “But cutting printing allowances is not the way to pay for them, particularly when it involves the most effective and retentive way of getting your message across, direct mail,” he said.

    “If the Labor Government is going to fulfill its promise of greater accountability and transparency then it’s going to need to communicate consistently with the electorate. It needs to be innovative with its communications if it wants people to understand and appreciate its important messages.

    “Our industry has technology and innovative processes that can be used to enhance government communication, making it attractive and individual and increasing its effectiveness. But you need to know how to use it effectively and the best way of doing this is to talk to the printing industry.”

  • WA newspaper goes Agfa no-water, no-chemistry CTP

    The commercial print enterprise of the South Western Times in Bunbury, Western Australia has made the move to processless plate production.

    Owned by West Australian Newspapers Limited, the South Western Times is WA’s largest non-daily regional newspaper. Its commercial print arm, Times Print, handles a range of print jobs from local customers, from simple single-colour dockets to 4- colour process work. Around 600 plates a month are produced for two 2-colour presses and one single-colour press.

    The move to Azura plates with an Acento platemaker has removed the reliance on chemicals and water in the platemaking process, and the transition from analog to CtP has eliminated the film-making step – a costly and time-consuming process. The added benefit of an  ApogeeX digital workflow and the Acento’s accuracy has also reduced plate remakes and wastage on make-readies.

    This has made an ‘enormous difference’ to the production environment,
    says commercial print manager David Brady. "Our productivity improved, and quality improved. And the system did everything Agfa said it would do. We couldn’t be happier," he says.  "I’ve moved from being a half-time
    platemaker and half-time printer to being a full-time printer now. It’s freed us up to get more work done and take on new jobs."

    The :Acento 4-up thermal platesetter features automatic plate size adjustments and inline punching. Separate loading/unloading bays allow one plate to be staged while another is imaged. The JDF-based :ApogeeX workflow includes flight checking and previewing prior to proofing and plating so that spot colours can be remapped to process without resending the job, resulting in reduced plate remakes.

    The :Azura plates use ThermoFuse technology which relies on a coating of
    themoplastic latex particles on a grained, anodised aluminium plate. When imaged in a standard thermal platesetter, the latex particles in the image areas fuse to the plate in a chemical- and water-free process. Un-imaged areas are removed with a non-chemical, re-usable gumming solution.

    Brady says the :Azura’s chemistry-free process has helped the company meet the strict OH&S policies of owners WA News, with a cleaner environment free of unpleasant and potentially-harmful odours.

    "No chemistry has also saved us problems with the EPA. Because we’re not in the middle of the city we rely on septic tanks for our waste water and the EPA do occasional checks on the ground water. There’s virtually nothing harmful coming out of the processor now," he says.

    "We haven’t worked out exactly how much water we were using but it was significant. Our water usage has now dropped. This is the company’s way of doing their bit to save water."

  • ‘Tis the season to back up your data: a message from Quote & Print

    He may not be Santa Claus, but Dave Bell (pictured) of Quote & Print has some important advice for the festive season.

    At Quote & Print, we wish you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

    Our Q&P Development Team have been hard at work adding lots of features to Quote & Print in the past year.  For existing Q&P users to make the most of all these new features we recommend that you contact your Quote & Print distributor to arrange for a system audit.  Often you will find that there are features that you or your staff are completely unaware of which could save you considerable time and money or improve service to your clients.  This is particularly relevant if you have been a long-time user of Quote & Print or have had staff changes recently.

    For those not using Q&P we suggest you contact one of the distributors to arrange to have a look at the new look V8 Q&P.

    One of the new features we will be releasing in the New Year is an interface to Metrix.  Metrix is imposition software that is used to optimise gang printing of jobs.  If you are an existing Metrix user or regularly gang printing or would like to gang print jobs contact us early in the New Year.

    To all the printers who bought or upgraded their Quote & Print Systems this year we thank you for your support.  The Quote & Print Team will be enjoying a well-earned break after Christmas and will return to work refreshed and ready for another year of enhancing Quote & Print.

    Now a final word of advice before you shut down for Christmas: make sure you have two backups of your Quote & Print or other MIS data. Store one in your office away from your file server and store the second offsite.

    Enjoy your Christmas break.

  • ‘Tis the season to back up your data: a message from Quote & Print

    He may not be Santa Claus, but Dave Bell (pictured) of Quote & Print has some important advice for the festive season.

    At Quote & Print, we wish you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

    Our Q&P Development Team have been hard at work adding lots of features to Quote & Print in the past year.  For existing Q&P users to make the most of all these new features we recommend that you contact your Quote & Print distributor to arrange for a system audit.  Often you will find that there are features that you or your staff are completely unaware of which could save you considerable time and money or improve service to your clients.  This is particularly relevant if you have been a long-time user of Quote & Print or have had staff changes recently.

    For those not using Q&P we suggest you contact one of the distributors to arrange to have a look at the new look V8 Q&P.

    One of the new features we will be releasing in the New Year is an interface to Metrix.  Metrix is imposition software that is used to optimise gang printing of jobs.  If you are an existing Metrix user or regularly gang printing or would like to gang print jobs contact us early in the New Year.

    To all the printers who bought or upgraded their Quote & Print Systems this year we thank you for your support.  The Quote & Print Team will be enjoying a well-earned break after Christmas and will return to work refreshed and ready for another year of enhancing Quote & Print.

    Now a final word of advice before you shut down for Christmas: make sure you have two backups of your Quote & Print or other MIS data. Store one in your office away from your file server and store the second offsite.

    Enjoy your Christmas break.