Archive for May, 2012

  • One new LIA Award Winner – One new Life Member

    Brett Foran, prepress apprentice from the NSW Land & Property Information is the 2012 NSW Heidelberg LIA Apprentice of the Year, while Angus Scott becomes the 8th Life Member.

    A good turnout last night at the North Ryde RSL saw eight graduates compete for the prestigious prize. With one of the strongest line-ups in recent years, the candidates had some tense moments before guest speaker, former Wallaby Skipper,  Nick Farr Jones announced the winner.

    Brett Foran (homepage) took the prize and will now enter the national competition against the winners from the states. The Government Department prepress apprentice made a favourable impression on all with his acceptance speech.

    Angus Scott, Ace Rollers, (pictured right with Ray Berwick, GBC Australia, who was awarded an Associate Fellowship at the same time) was inducted into Life Membership of the state branch, taking his place with the other industry luminaries; Doug Churchill, Bob Lamont, Warwick Roden, John Fisher, the late George Williams, Dick Todd and Greg Grace.

    President David Welles congratulated all the graduates assuring them of their own personal success, even if only one winner was possible.

    The other graduates were:

    • David Whitmore – Digital  – Print Fuji Xerox Australia
    • Murray Grant – Screen Print – Screen and Display
    • Nerida Cunneen –  Pre-Press – Pure Colours Digital Imaging
    • Jarrod Morrison – Lithography –  Land & Property Information
    • Philip Rosie –  Flexo Labels – Graphitype
    • Erica Mast – Print Finishing – All Book Bindery (pictured below left with Farlie Goodwin, JDA).
  • Immij snaps up 100th Aussie Color 800/1000 press

    Well-known Victorian commercial printer, Immij, has taken on Fuji Xerox Australia’s 100th high-speed press to help bridge the gap between its digital and offset printing. The milestone hit less than two years after the first install turned industry heads in Sydney.

    Since launching in 2010, the Color 800/1000 platform has had several upgrades including new colour management automation, finishing solutions and a new ink formulation which provides print providers with more ways to drive sales, reduce costs and chase new revenue.

    Faster turn-around times appealed to Michael Smithe, managing director at Immij, but it was the press’s new interactive applications that swayed the investment decision. The company needed a press that could support customers with marketing collateral.

    “We assessed all the main players offering digital machines. It was Fuji Xerox Australia that presented a solution which bridged a gap to ease the pressure off our near-capacity offset business,” said Smithe.  “Their latest matte dry ink (Low Gloss Dry Ink) will allow us to transfer jobs from offset and free up the presses for longer runs.”’

    With the Color 800/1000’s Automated Color Quality Suite (ACQS), operators can tackle colour management tasks for consistency and accuracy, delivering the exact colour every time regardless of paper stock. The printer also includes Image on Media Alignment, which allows press hands to automatically adjust for front-to-back registration, perpendicularity, skew and magnification – previously a time-consuming, manual process.

    The Color 800/1000 Presses are now available with both Fuji Xerox’s revolutionary Clear Dry Ink, with the ability to spot or flood clear coat inline to deliver an effect similar to spot varnish, and now Low Gloss Dry Ink, best suited to uncoated and silk-coated stocks, delivering a flatter look.

    According to Henryk Kraszewski, production colour marketing manager of Fuji Xerox Australia, the new capabilities offered with the Color 800/1000 Presses were developed in response to customer feedback. “With the enhanced features, customers are able to produce sophisticated, full-colour sales collateral and direct-marketing pieces at rapid speeds

    “In an increasingly competitive environment, customers wanted more automation and an increased range of applications. We wanted to address this and offer our customers even greater value on their investment,” said Kraszewski.

    Print providers across the country are experiencing the benefits offered by the Color 800/1000 press.  In NSW, Daryn Wilson of Pegasus Print Group has seen a lot of traditional offset jobs become smaller run.

    “Running these on the Color 1000 Press means we can get near to offset results without having to do such large runs, so it’s more cost competitive.

    “Being able to print on other substrates, and use the clear dry ink, has allowed us to bring work back in-house. It also means you can add value to your client by giving them choice – we can do one copy or 100,000 copies,” said Wilson.

    David Shandler, of Victoria-based Docucopy concurs: “We have people calling us because they know we have the Color 1000 Press and we’re now seeing our colour work increasing significantly. In fact, we’re generating 20% more colour work since we installed it.”

  • Issue 528 29 May 2012

    PMP’s revamped ACP magazine print deal is a sign that the region’s largest printing company will not go quietly into the night from a TMA takeover. Remember, it is business as usual until someone signs on the dotted line.

     

    This is the printing weekly news read by over 8,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand. We look forward to your tips and news items, so please continue to send them to us at NEWS

     

    You can also follow us on Twitter.

  • Hobart boy scores top Tassie apprentice award

    Adam Savage from Hobart’s Print Applied Technology wins the Printing Industries – Heidelberg 2011 Tasmanian Apprentice of the Year.

    Ron Patterson, Printing Industries‘ general manager for Victoria and Tasmanian, said the Award was announced at Wrest Point Casino at a cocktail party attended by more than 40 people representing printing industry companies, family, friends and other finalists.

    “Candidates for this year’s event were of such an high standard that it was extremely difficult to find the winner, even though we made the questions more difficult for the Judging process.

    “Adam was presented with a trophy and sizable cheque from Heidelberg Australia, framed certificate, and tickets for two to attend this year’s Tasmanian 2012 PICA Awards Dinner on Saturday 13 October 2012 at Wrest Point Casino. The night was sponsored by Media Super who are strong supporters of our Industry and contributed to a very successful event for everyone concerned,” said Patterson.

    Adam (pictured) was supported by his father and Adam’s Employer and colleagues from Print Applied Technology including general manager Peter Johns and production manager Robert Baker.

    Printing Industries and Heidelberg Australia see the apprentice of the year award as crucial to the industry of today and for its future development.

    “These young people are out future industry leaders and that’s one of the important reasons industry organisations and suppliers work together to promote and support activities such as the Apprentice of the Year awards,” said Patterson. “I see these awards becoming even more important and a bigger highlight in coming years. It’s very pleasing that the printing industry joins together to support such great events.”

    Tasmania continues to produce outstanding apprentices from the printing industry, says Danny Roach, regional board member for Printing Industries.

    “Our standards are exceptionally high and this is reflected in the calibre of our apprentices. This will hold the industry in good stead moving forward,” said Roach.

    Savage will now go on to represent the printing industry in the 2012 Tasmanian Training Awards run by Skills Tasmania.

  • Printing companies need to realise their full potential

    Printing companies should not be restricted by believing innovation comes from technical knowledge only and may be out of their reach because of cost or lack of expertise. According to Alan Ryan, executive director of the Hargraves Institute, innovation is not necessarily about creating anything new, but more about what you do with what you know.

    Ryan believes that no business can be isolated from the need to constantly encourage new thinking about the way they do things from customer engagement through to products offered and production. He is currently running a series of keynote presentations around Australia as part of the Printing Industries’Innovate or Stagnate the Why? How & What?’ printing industry forums.

    “In the middle of the last century Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was repeating the same action and expecting a different result. If Einstein were alive today he would say that the definition of insanity was repeating the same action and expecting the same result.

    “Today’s world is changing around us so fast that it allows excellence in repetition to predict future success,” he said.

    This week sees the completion of seminars in Adelaide and Perth. Ryan will be presenting in Brisbane on 4 June, Sydney 5 June and Melbourne 7 June. The Brisbane session will be held at the Brisbane International Hotel while both the Sydney and Melbourne sessions will be hosted at their respective Printing Industries’ state offices.

    Ryan has taken the position that the Apple Corporation, the world’s largest most successful company, does not invent things.

    “Apple did not invent the MP3 player or the mobile phone; they just did them better. The lesson from Apple is to look around and capitalise on the inventiveness of others and do it better,” said Ryan.

    Bookings close this week and seating is being finalised on a first come basis. Information on each city session is available by contacting innovation@printnet.com.au or by calling your local Printing Industries office on 1800 227 425 or via this link.

  • What can be automated… will be automated – Print21 magazine feature

    At a time when the graphic arts is enthralled with the seeming miracles of solid-state digital technology, the importance of mechanical processes in the printing industry can often be overlooked. Putting marks on paper was only ever half the story. Transforming the printed material into useful, saleable products is arguably of more importance. Patrick Howard travelled to the Swiss city of St Gallen to ask Ferdinand Rüesch of Gallus, one of the most significant machine builders in the industry, about the state of process control and the company’s venture into folding cartons.

    From his vantage point at the centre of Swiss machine manufacturing, Ferdinand Rüesch has a unique perspective on the technical and economic forces shaping the label and packaging industry. As an experienced mechanical technologist, he is convinced that increasing levels of inline finishing and automation will continue to define the way labels and folding cartons are made. I recently went to visit him in St Gallen, a historic town in Switzerland, where his family has been making complex and sophisticated production machines for almost a century.

    A robust, pragmatic individual, Rüesch is the third generation in charge of the family-owned company and has spent a lifetime designing, building and perfecting label presses that are among the most sophisticated inline manufacturing and converting lines in any industry.

    He is a staunch advocate of inline processing, convinced—to transform a well-known motto —that “everything that can be automated, will be automated”.

    He brushes aside any suggestion that the advent of digital imaging will have an adverse impact on the Gallus range of presses. Despite the number of companies entering the market, he believes the Gallus brand has its own unique appeal. It builds on a tradition of precision engineering and innovation. The list of Gallus innovations and ‘firsts’ is impressive, such as an early patented rotary screen to the original servo-controlled presses in the 1990s.

    No room for digital

    Gallus label presses incorporate all manner of imaging technologies from flexo to screen and UV rotogravure to offset printing and hot foil embossing. Constructed in a unique modular format, the different imaging units are swapped and changed with ease to ensure maximum flexibility. But despite the current rush into the sector by companies with digital imaging technology, Rüesch is not about to add any of its own digital imaging modules to the system. Rather he is content to leave the development of digital label printing to Heidelberg, Gallus’s 30 per cent shareholding partner, which is introducing its new Linoprint inkjet at drupa.

    As he points out more than once during a highly convivial interview with himself and Niklaus Amacker, Gallus marketing, at the Gallus HQ, there is more to label converting than putting marks on paper. It involves multiple manufacturing processes that are rarely used in commercial mainstream printing. No matter whether the essential printing process is flexography, lithography, gravure, digital inkjet or toner, UV dried, heatset or cold, imaging the substrate is only the beginning of the process. The rest of the manufacturing procedure—coating, perforating, cutting, creasing and folding—is the true transformative process.

    In Rüesch’s terminology, during the process of converting a roll of substrate into a label, the web passing through the press is “kissed, squeezed, pressed and hit”. It is subjected to drying, UV or otherwise, with the whole process taking place in variable temperatures and humidity. The way substrate winds through a sophisticated label machine is a very complicated business. Controlling this process is one of the core skill sets of Gallus.

    Pictured: Ferdinand Rüesch(left) and Niklaus Amacker at Gallus HQ in St Gallen.

    The company’s presses ranges from the highly automated Gallus RCS 330/430 with the last word in sophisticated process control, to the successful Gallus ECS 340, an entry-level press with a unique granite core. All can be recognised by the variety and sufficiency of the inline processes they employ. It is Ferdinand Rüesch’s belief that inline is the way of the future. “Inline is our defining position,” he says.

    Getting into folding cartons

    Long recognised for its high-end label presses, Gallus is using this drupa to demonstrate to the world its progress in the folding carton market. Following the 2006 takeover of German press manufacturer, BHS, it has undertaken a technology integration and development of a Gallus brand for folding cartons. In the process, the Swiss company is transferring its sophisticated process control, which is the hallmark of its label presses, to the larger, more robust world of carton production.

    “They make strong machines and know how to make big rigid machines. We know how to control the web,” says Rüesch. “It’s better if growth is organic, but sometimes it is necessary to buy what you require.”

    He maintains the two companies brought complementary skills to the venture; Gallus with its industry-leading knowledge and experience of controlling the tension of webs, BHS with its heavy engineering background and expertise in constructing large presses suitable for folding cartons.

    Folding carton production requires a very different system than that for labels. The substrates are heavier, the run lengths longer and the presses very much bigger. This is what BHS in Weiden, Germany, specialised in, but it needed the web handling expertise of Gallus to develop its inline processes.

    Gallus is now bringing to market three folding carton machine systems: the Gallus CCS 510 and Gallus ICS 670 for high-end quality cartons as well as the Gallus Intro L/XL for low-budget products. According to Stefan Hagn, marketing and product development at Gallus Folding Carton Business in Weiden, Germany, visitors to the company’s stand at drupa were able to see the state-of-the-art Gallus ICS 670 in operation. It showcased a new gravure printing unit that can be integrated at any point in the system, giving printers the choice of water- or solvent-based inks. Drawing on traditional Gallus expertise, it has an ingenious lead that shortens the web run considerably. In addition, the press was printing with a new HiDef flexo system as well as rotary screen printing and cold foiling in a single pass.

    This proved the first chance many local printers had to assess the Gallus expertise in inline folding carton production. It is likely to broaden the debate on the virtues of a complete one-pass production system.

    Business is business

    Gallus has enjoyed strong growth for a number of years, often while other sectors of the industry reeled from the effects of the economic downturn. Its order books and production remained largely untouched by the GFC but that is starting to change.

    “There is long-term uncertainty about the Euro. We now have tough credit conditions where people are very careful about lending money. Label makers are the last in the food chain, they are putting off decisions, especially in Europe” says Ferdinand Rüesch.

    Because Europe accounts for 55 per cent of Gallus’s output, the dire state of the continent is having an impact. This is giving greater impetus to the company to look further afield to Asia, where it has recently opened an office in Singapore. Its business plan is to open its own offices in important markets to deal directly with customers. It has offices in USA, UK, Scandinavia, Brazil, Mexico, India and Australia. In other parts of the world, especially in Eastern Europe and Russia, it is represented by Heidelberg. “This works very well for us,” says Rüesch.

    Currently Gallus is a company of 590 people with an annual turnover of 201 million Swiss francs in 2011.

    Talking to the family

    Gallus label presses have long enjoyed the reputation of being the quality benchmark of the industry. It is something Ferdinand Rüesch prizes but he is aware it carries its own potential problem. He is at pains to stress that while a Gallus label press is as good as it gets, it is not unaffordable. To his way of thinking, quality is always affordable because of the value it delivers.

    The cachet of the Gallus brand has taken on a life of its own. There is an international users group, an informal club of owners facilitated and encouraged by the company. Apart from sharing technology tips and problem solving it deals with larger issues. In label converting, as in other parts of the industry, there is a generational change underway as owner-operators explore possibilities of selling, merging, getting out or finding a partner to take on the running. The informal Gallus family is one way whereby companies can find the right partner and locate like-minded companies around the world. According to Ferdinand Rüesch, the foundation of the ‘Gallus family’ is the trust built up between the company and its customers over many years.

    “You cannot buy trust, you can only earn it over time. We have done that and will keep on doing it,” he says.

    In the cold, bright air of a St Gallen spring morning with its sense of tradition and stability, it is easy to understand how Gallus customers around the world have come to rely implicitly on the company’s reputation and Swiss engineering quality. Their trust is well-placed.

  • Rasmussen’s fifth top tip – Develop your business to run on auto pilot

    One of the major issues with the running of small to medium (SME) sized businesses is that there is an over reliance on the owner – frequently they have a hand in just about everything; they work in sales, production, estimating/quoting, HR, operations, finance and marketing. Ascent Partners principal, Richard Rasmussen believes they work in the business, but not on the business.   

    The problem with this is that when it comes time to sell the business, there is a high degree of perceived risk by the purchaser. This equates to a lower business value.

    The most frequent area of perceived risk is that of client retention – i.e. how many of the clients will ‘stick’ with the new entity, without the previous owner being involved. The smaller the firm is, the greater the likelihood that most of the sales are generated – or dealt with – by the owner.

    The best way to reduce risk is to develop processes, systems and people, and for the business to be less reliant on the owner to ‘do the doing’. In a perfect world, most businesses should be presented for sale as being run, or capable of running on auto pilot.

    A great book on this subject is E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. It’s an easy read without too much business jargon; I am sure most printers will be able to easily relate the key messages it presents. One of the major benefits derived by building a business to run on auto pilot business is that it gets the business owners to think more about what’s really important in the business. It’s hence highly relevant to succession / transition planning.

    The book’s central message is that most SME businesses do not reach their full potential because their owners spend too much time doing the work (doing the doing), rather than managing and growing the business. And that creating a systemised way of doing things within the business is the key to breaking the cycle.

    Think of what you would like to see if you were purchasing a business. Would a business that is very reliant on the owner, where he or she is fully hands on and where there are no systems in place, be as attractive as one where the workers are doing the work, and the owner is focussed on managing the business? Which one would you pay more for? Which presents the greater risk?

    I understand that SME businesses have to rely on the owner to do the work in some areas, but that’s not to say that processes and systems can’t be put in place to minimise much of their involvement. A good way to look at it is; what would happen to the business if the owner was not around for a period of time? Would the employees be able to pick up the day to day tasks without the business suffering? Are all the bases covered? Can the employees take over the day to day operations of the business for a prolonged period?

    A simple example of systemising within the print industry is the development of an integrated estimating, quoting, job bag production, invoicing and delivery system.  And also in sales and marketing – i.e. how we market / sell, what client follow up systems we have, what KPIs we have in place for quote win / loss ratios etc. The production and review of financial statements is another, along with systemising the collection process.

    These systems do however take time to develop. It’s not an overnight fix. It’s more about examining the way you do business, and over time developing systems and processes to improve the business. In sporting parlance, it’s about working on ‘the one percenters’. By doing this, not only will you reap the benefits when you are running the business, but you should also reap a far greater return when it comes time to sell.

    Having a business run on auto pilot also provides more options in the way you transit out of the business. This could be in the form of family succession, management buy-out, trade sale, or finding a CEO to manage it, perhaps with equity options.  You never know you may develop the business to such an extent that you can maintain an interest, obtain a yearly dividend, and not be involved in the day to day operations.

  • Sands Print shuts up shop in Geelong

    80 employees are shown the door as rescuers walk away from the iconic company. Book printer BPA Print Group picks up the brand and what’s left of the business.

    Deeply disappointed workers assembled this morning to hear administrator Jason Stone from Lawler Draper Dillon deliver the news that two prospective buyers had declined to proceed with the rescue package. They were told that the company would be shut down forthwith. Holiday pay and notice entitlements are secure but long service and other payments will depend on the Government-backed GEERS scheme.

    There was no further comment from the administrators at time of writing.

    The announcement brought to an end a tense administration where it was hoped industry players would be sufficiently interested to keep the company going. Staff were on short time in recent days as work levels fell away. “The presses have never been so well maintained, and the floors have never been so clean,” said one production worker.

    The failure involves millions of dollars in debt with unsecured creditors unlikely to receive any payment. As usual paper merchants provided the largest single group of unsecured creditors.

    Retail services company TIC Group is reported to be interested in some of Sands pick’n’pack operations with a few key staff supposed to be transferring. But for the vast majority there are few printing industry alternatives in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

    Sands Print was owned and managed by Mannie Stub and Ernest Lewin.

     

  • Issue 527 May 2012

    The failure of SEMA, the mail and business outsourcing company, is a stark reminder of the dangers of winning contracts by quoting suicide prices. Remember, it is not a winning bid if you cannot make any money from performing the work.

    This is the printing weekly news read by over 8,000 graphics industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand. We look forward to your tips and news items, so please continue to send them to us at NEWS. It is a fast moving world and news happens all the time. Be sure to follow us on Twitter where we alert you to breaking news on a daily basis.

     

  • PaperlinX shareholder insurrection picks up pace

    “If the EGM was held today, the result would be completely different,” said Andrew Price, PaperlinX shareholder activist as he prepared for the first Sydney meeting of disaffected investors on Monday. He was referring to the company meeting in March where he lost a bid to oust the current chairman by as little as two percent of the votes.

    The standing room only Sydney meeting was the latest in a series of presentations Price is hosting to inform shareholders about the state of the company and his own plans to revive its fortunes. Following a number of Melbourne meetings where he spoke to over 300 investors, both retail investors and other who have a stake in investment funds, he believes there is now a very strong appetite for change.

    “Many investors didn’t have enough information at the time of the last meeting. Over 30 percent didn’t vote. It is my intention to help investors become better informed to they can play an active role in the governance of PaperlinX,” said Price.

    The continuing activism comes in the shadow of the presentation of PaperlinX Strategic Review to be presented by Toby Marchant, CEO, June 30.

    Price has undertaken not to press for any further shareholder meetings, with the caveat that he will change his mind if the company tries to do, “anything stupid, such as sell a profitable business asset to try to cover up the mess they’ve made.

    “I sincerely hope they have a better plan for the future,” he said.

  • Label printer is the mystery PMP bidder

    Three weeks ago an unknown bidder put a highly conditional non-binding indicative offer for the purchase of PMP, the region’s largest printing company. Anthony Karam, CEO of label and ticketing printer TMA, is identified as the mystery bidder.

    PMP locked down Monday morning under a trading halt, while Karam and co walked into a full day of back-to-back meetings with no comment. PMP’s shares jumped 5% when it resumed trading later in the day.

    STOP PRESS: PMP issued a statement at noon where it acknowledged the TMA offer. It referred to media reports as triggering its response. The company’s share trading halt will continue for another day. TMA has provided funding commitment letters in a form that is customary at this preliminary stage of a potential transaction. The views expressed in the funding commitment letters are preliminary and any funding commitment that may be made in the future is subject to the completion of due diligence to financiers’ satisfaction, credit and other required approvals and documentation.

    TMA is no stranger to a takeover having acquired Label Press in 2004 and Cashflow in 2007. Anthony (pictured) and his sister Corienne control around 81% of the company they founded in 1982 and delisted from the stock exchange late-2011.

    The takeover announcement sent PMP’s share price flying up to just over 60 cents, more than double the dubious levels where it has languished for most of this year. However, since then the market has demonstrated its mistrust in the bid by allowing the share price to drop back to 37 cents at the time of writing.

    Apart from the trading halt the only response from the company, posted on the ASX, is that the directors are considering the approach and will keep the market informed of developments. The company has also appointed Gresham Partners, whose PE arm owns GEON, as its financial advisors in relation to the bid.

    The bid is for between 0.68 to $0.78 cents per share, which values the company at between $220 million and $252 million, almost twice the value of the business at its current share price. ($123 million)

    The company is a good cash cow, turning over $577.5 million for the first half year, but only delivering $8.8 million net profit after tax. Even then significant items, swallowed half of that leaving only $4.6m.

    Since the bid was announced, the industry has been in a ferment of speculation as to the identity of the mystery bidder. TMA Group was identified by an industry source on Friday and outed in today’s financial press. Industry observers reckon there has to be PE money funding the deal, possibly from Asia.

    TMA employs over 300 people and maintains manufacturing facilities in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland and Shanghai as well as sales offices in Perth, Manila, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Stay posted for further developments.

  • International print use survey needs input

    Printing Industries is calling on local print houses to participate in a 15-country survey covering the role print plays in everyday life. Companies are being asked not only to directly take part, but also to pass the survey on to their customers to help capture the broadest range and greatest number of responses.

    The Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) is conducting the survey in conjunction with Europe’s Print Power organisation, Two Sides Australia and the PIAA.

    According to Hagop Tchamkertenian, national manager for policy and government affairs at Printing Industries, this is the first time such a survey had been carried out covering Australia, the UK, Europe and the US.

    “In a multi-channel world we have to understand how consumers relate to print and how reading habits are being impacted by new media.

    “This survey will give us valuable insight, ensuring that our promotion of print as a highly effective and sustainable media is clearly focused on consumers’ reading preferences,” he said.

    Tchamkertenian believes the survey results would provide up-to-date data on print use and be invaluable for the printing industries in all participating countries in assessing consumer media preferences.

    Print shops, mailers, packaging operations and the greater print community are encouraged to circulate the survey as widely as possible. The questionnaire consists of six short stories, each describing a different media use situation.

    Printing Industries, Joe Kowalewski, invites consumers to read the stories and rate how well they fit into their lifestyles and media use habits. Attitudes towards advertising in different media channels are also studied.

    “In the second phase later this year small groups of consumers from different countries will be invited to provide more detailed information on their media use habits.

    “The focus will be on finding out what kind of needs and expectations people have for print advertising and examine the role of print products in everyday life,” said Kowalewski.

    The survey can be accessed via this link

  • Calling in the collectors – Print21 magazine feature

    No matter how well your contracts are designed and how active your accounts department, there will come a time when a customer’s account becomes overdue. This is not the moment to hesitate, says Roger Mendelson—it’s time to call in the professionals.

    In my previous two articles (Print21 October and December 2011), we looked at why printing businesses should have a credit application form for all their customers. We then looked at the importance of incorporating commercial trading terms into the contract you have with your customers and the benefits of setting up an internal collection system and ensuring that you stick to it.

    By following those earlier steps, you will reduce the risk of losses from bad debts because you will significantly reduce the risk of granting credit to a customer with a bad or unproven track record. You will have improved your cash flow because you will have ensured that you have billed the right customer entity and that adequate steps have been taken to follow up the overdue account.

    However, no matter how good your systems are, you will still end up with accounts which have moved from the overdue account category to the potential bad debt category. If the earlier steps have been followed and the account still remains outstanding at 90 days from date of invoice, then the trigger point should be reached for further action to be taken.

    If the customer perceives that you are floundering and are failing to maintain the pressure to pay, they will treat this as a sign of weakness and you will find that your account will go to the bottom of the pile and other more pressing suppliers will get paid ahead of you. Businesses that are suffering cash flow problems become adept at picking out the serious creditors from those who appear to be hesitant and they will exploit the weakness of hesitancy.

    My suggestion is that your overdue accounts be auto­matically referred to an external collection agency after they have reached 90 days.

    There will be cases where the referral should be much earlier than this. This will apply in the cases where the customer is ignoring phone calls, bouncing cheques and breaking promises. If your trading terms have been properly drafted, they will include a provision which provides that in the event where the account is referred to a collection agency, the customer will be liable for all commission and costs incurred by you.

    If you incorporate this simple provision in your trading terms, then you will effectively pass the full collection cost on to your defaulting customer, provided that the agency achieves 100 per cent recovery. Use of this clause should act as a powerful incentive for you to outsource your collections at the 90-day mark.

    Geared for results

    There are a whole variety of reasons why a collection agency can achieve results which you are unable to achieve internally.

    A major reason is that they are completely unemotional about the account. They do not know the customer and do not suffer from the irritation, angst and annoyance that go with dealing with a bad debt.

    If the service provided by the agency is totally and unambiguously ‘no recovery—no charge’, then the agency has every incentive to collect your overdue account as quickly as possible. In effect, it is sharing the benefits of the outcome from a successful collection with you, because it only gets paid if it achieves recovery of the account.

    In many cases, a collection agency merely formalises the process and provides the impetus to pay.

    Your focus should be on running your printing business, not chasing debts. Collecting your overdue accounts is really a back-room role for your business and is one which you are not adequately equipped to handle properly, beyond a certain point.

    The situation with a collection agency is different because its primary business activity is collecting debts. Accordingly, it will have processes, trained staff, KPIs and all the tools necessary to ensure that it handles debt collection in an efficient and productive manner, designed to collect as much money as possible in the shortest time period possible.

    Don’t let debts grow old

    There is a clear relationship between the age of a debt and the chances of it becoming a bad debt. For each month which passes, the chance of an overdue account becoming a bad debt increase significantly.

    For starters, the customer will not be interested in main­-
    taining a good track record with you because they know the damage has already been done. Accordingly, they will be developing a relationship with another printer and is much more likely to pay that printer promptly than to pay your overdue account, for the simple reason that he will want to obtain ongoing credit with the new printer.

    In addition, there is an increasing risk that your customer will end up going bankrupt or going into liquidation. The fact that your account has not been paid is an indication that their financial position is weak and there is a real risk of it going into liquidation.

  • Drupa Snooper – still rocking for a dwindling crowd

    drupa 2012 crowds surely thinned out near the end out but some areas showed no sign of letting up in vitality and buzz. Big orders still flowed on the last days, such as Pitney Bowes first Intellijet 20 press – an HP T 300 clone – to a Mexican customer and a $3.5 million Mailstream line to Switzerland. Heidelberg continued its renaissance with a brace of new Speedmaster 106XLs and Polar kit to Birmingham, UK printer Alltrade. On the topic of the XL106, I vote it one of the slickest press demos of the show; poetry in motion but eclipsed by – you guessed it – Landa Nanographic press demos.

    Take a look at the photograph. It was taken at 12:15pm on the penultimate day of this two-week trade fair, a time when many exhibitors are surreptitiously packing things into boxes, powering down machines ready for a quick exit tomorrow. (In fact several Chinese exhibitors have done just that, but left 3 days early leaving empty shells of stands!). But not on the Landa Nanography stand. The crowd you see are outside the live presentation theatre, watching it on a huge video display screen. There just isn’t enough room to fit everyone in! The interest in the Nanographic process and ink technology is phenomenal. If the indications prove correct in 2013 when presses start to ship, Nanography could potentially make other ‘new’ processes obsolete before they have even had time to roll fully into market. Yes, that’s a big statement but I’m backed by Heidelberg, Komori and manroland who have all signed license agreements to bring their own Nanographic presses to market.

    I was privileged to be granted one of very few one-on-one interviews with founder Benny Landa; that’s the two of us in the picture. Look out for June Print21 magazine where the full interview will be published.

    Drupa Snooper slideshowThe drupa 2012 highlights

    In other drupa sales news, Scodix, the digital spot UV and embossing innovator from Israel – available in ANZ through Currie Group – has sold several of its S74 machines as has rival MGI with its JetVarnish. This type of kit is pure value-add and literally puts the ‘gloss’ back into print; now spot UV is digital, every digital printer should offer this as an option, especially for short-run packaging. It’s tactile, eye-candy and just beautiful.

    Kudos to manroland web for signing up the largest heatset web press in the world, a 160-page Lithoman to WKS Druckholding in Germany. Even Flexo presses are flying with a second Comexi to India. As mentioned in the last drupa Snooper, KBA has sold everything off their stand and some. Pictured are Dave Lewis and Grahame Harris from KBA Australia and Stefan Segger, managing director for KBA Asia-Pacific, with good reason to smile having booked three orders from Australia.

    Delphax Technologies, the Canadian-US company who blew cut-sheet colour printing speeds away when they announced their Memjet-powered Elan digital press at 500 impressions per minute, have sold their first machine to UK book printer Berforts Group. Vice President Sales & Marketing Kevin Howes said, “We have had interest expressed from Australia and I am looking for a capable partner who knows colour management in particular in that region.” Delphax has also entered an agreement with Colordyne, another Memjet-powered machine but for labels, where Delphax assumes master distribution for outside of North America including Australia. This would offer any potential dealer the fastest cut-sheet colour machine plus the fastest narrow web label machine currently available.

    Fujifilm is pressing ahead with bringing its B2 digital press to market with a special folding carton version, provisionally named the JetPress ‘F’. Samples shown were excellent and there does seem a bias towards packaging work from all of the B2 digital vendors.

    As I prepare for a mad dash to the airport and bid drupa farewell, some observations. The show is probably now 3-4 days too long. The dwindling numbers in the traditional halls, countered by still strong crowds looking into digital, indicate that all could be accomplished in an 8-10 day show in 2016. The influx of exhibitors from China was somewhat disappointing in that, for many their idea of exhibiting was to paste a couple of posters up on the wall and sit around on chairs. Adding to the mixture was the early exit of some, leaving bare walls and boxes behind them. With some notable exceptions such as Shanghai Electric, Purple Magna, Founder and Donghang, our Chinese industry friends need to learn how to exhibit themselves a little better.

    Having said all that, hearty congratulations to the drupa organisers and all exhibitors for staging a surprisingly excellent trade fair so soon after the GFC and right in the middle of a Eurozone crisis!

  • 30/90 rule reduction a boon for book printers

    Australian book printing companies will benefit from agreement on the introduction of the Book Industry Speed to Market initiative, according to Printing Industries Association of Australia (Printing Industries).

    The voluntary initiative will see a reduction of the 30/90 day copyright rule governing the importing of books to 14/14 from 1 June 2012. However it will not replace the legislated 30/90 rule.

    Currently, if a book is produced overseas, Australian publishers have 30 days after its foreign release to publish it in Australia. If no action is taken within this time, the book can be ‘parallel imported’ into the country, despite copyright protection. Once the book is published in Australia, the publisher then has 90 days to replenish stock.

    Printing Industries CEO Bill Healey (pictured) says that the reduction in the amount of time publishers had to take books to market would benefit Australian printers over offshore rivals.

    “A key imperative for the change is the need by publishers to get the greatest number of books possible out to as many readers as possible in the shortest time possible. Australian printers are in an excellent position to be able to do this,” he says.

    Healey commends the Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG) for its recommendation, which led to the agreement for the voluntary change.

    Participating parties included the Australian Publishers Association, Australian Booksellers Association, Australian Society of Authors, Australian Literary Agents’ Association and Printing Industries Association of Australia.

    Printing Industries National Manager, for Policy and Government Affairs, Hagop Tchamkertenian, says the 30/90 day rule was established many years ago when the Internet and e-commerce were non-existent.

    “Technology has changed everything including the wants of consumers for faster delivery of books and has also enabled our industry to be able to meet that demand locally,” says Tchamkertenian.

    “Australian book printers are ideally positioned to benefit from these new arrangements as they have invested in digital printing capability in recent times, a trend that is expected to increase under the new voluntary rules,” he says.

    Tchamkertenian says the change would not apply to books where the main content was musical works, manuals sold with computer software or periodical publications.

  • Issue 526 May 15 2012

    As drupa draws to a close and the last tire kickers leave the mighty messe in Düsseldorf, spare a thought for those supply-side guys who’ve manned the various stands since the show began 12 days ago. Not only do they stay on their feet all day demonstrating products to visiting prospects, but at night they are expected to take every fresh bunch of customers out on the town. And do it all over again the following day. It’s a grueling grind. Well done guys, soon be heading home.

    And don’t forget to follow up all those leads.

    This is the printing weekly news read by over 8,000 industry professionals in Australia and New Zealand. We look forward to your tips and news items, so please continue to send them to us at NEWS

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  • Enterprise Connect offers health checks for print businesses

    Printing Industries is encouraging all small to medium printers to apply for a Enterprise Connect Business Review and gain an independent assessment of their business. One company already benefitting from the process is Theo Pettaras’ Digitalpress, which has seen a 15% increase in productivity.

    Following advice from their business adviser, Digitalpress implemented a cash flow management system and developed a detailed business and marketing plan to define market demands and clarify the future vision for the Sydney-based printer.

    “We were in an early growth stage and were very focused on the day to day running of the business, we welcomed an outside perspective on improvements we could make to the way we do business,” said Pettaras.

    Experienced Enterprise Connect Business Advisers are available to conduct a top-to-bottom analysis of individual businesses within the printing industry. The Business Review is conducted on-site and involves assessing strengths and weaknesses, benchmarking against other businesses in the industry and providing recommendations for business improvements.

    Enterprise Connect has been offering the Business Review service to Australian businesses across an expanding range of industries for over three years, approving over 5,500 Business Reviews.

    Enterprise Connect recently established the Printing and Publishing Industries Support Network to provide professional business advice, development services and linkages to businesses within the printing and publishing industries. With specialist expertise and networks, Enterprise Connect can now provide more tailored advice and support to printing businesses.

    Printing industries CEO Bill Healey, said feedback from printing businesses among the first to pilot the Enterprise Connect Business Review had strongly endorsed the value of undertaking the Business Review and of accessing other tailored services offered by Enterprise Connect.

    “The Business Review is conducted by an Enterprise Connect Business Adviser whose goal is to help the printing business to reach the next level with unbiased advice and their specialist knowledge of the printing industry.

    “These people have significant private sector experience at a senior level and are focussed on helping companies to achieve very real and sustainable change and use a range of industry contacts, tools and resources to assist business for the longer term,” Healey said.

    According to Healey, on average each client could expect their review to identify at least five recommended actions across a wide range of areas including strategy, human resource management, financial management, business and production processes and marketing.

    “Once they have completed the review, businesses can access Tailored Advisory Service funding to help implement change. The goal is to make the individual business robust and sustainable into the future,’ adds Healey.

    Hagop Tchamkertenian, national manager for policy and government affairs at Printing Industries, said he was hopeful the Printing and Publishing Industries Support Network will provide a new impetus and result in increased take-up of the services offered by the Enterprise Connect.

    “We have been calling for increased support for our industry for some time. Having a dedicated Network for our industry is a major triumph. It is now up to printing industry participants to take full advantage of the opportunity that has been made available to them and strive to become more efficient, competitive and sustainable.

    “83 per cent of Enterprise Connect clients have reported improvements in productivity and efficiency. We are now inviting our industry to take up the opportunity and become part of the process of continuous improvement,” said Tchamkertenian.

    To find out more about accessing business improvement services tailored to the printing industry, contact Printing Industries on 1800 227 425, or to apply for an Enterprise Connect Business Review visit enterpriseconnect.gov.au or call 131 791.