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Dealer of the year powers ahead

Wednesday, 09 May 2018
By Print 21 Online Article

“We’re happy to be CRON’s 2017 Asia-Pacific dealer of the year, and we look forward to upholding that high standard,” Bernie Robinson, Currie Group.

For eight years, Currie Group has distributed CRON’s range of thermal CTP gear in Australia, launching into New Zealand in the past twelve months. In 2017, the company took home CRON’s Asia-Pacific dealer of the year award – and with two recent installs in Melbourne, it doesn’t look like the pace will slow down any time soon.

With more than 45 installations around the country in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, Currie Group is Australia’s largest distributor of CRON thermal platemakers. Last December, as the only dealer in the Asia-Pacific region to meet its distribution quota, Currie Group was named the Chinese manufacturer’s 2017 dealer of the year, and Bernie Robinson, managing director, was on hand in Hangzhou to receive the award. “We’re happy to be CRON’s 2017 Asia-Pacific dealer of the year, and we look forward to upholding that high standard,” said Robinson. “I’m confident we’ll be able to keep sales figures up to where we were last year.”

Currie Group has been in the platemaker business for decades, having sold ECRM kit since 1991. According to Robinson, the company became interested in CRON when demand started to grow for chemical-free thermal plates. “We have 350 polyester CTP platemakers out there, but we saw there was a real market for thermal technology,” he said.

Thanks to a tip from his friend Derek Sizer, at the time CRON’s European sales director, Robinson went on to ink the deal that would see Currie Group enter the thermal platesetting market in Australia and, recently, New Zealand. “I went hunting for a manufacturer and came up with CRON, which has been building these platemakers for 20 years. CRON makes hundreds and hundreds of machines every year, so they have to be good products – and they have been good products, both for Currie Group and our customers,” said Robinson.

Currie Group sells both CRON’s G-series of platemakers and its new three-in-one H-series, which is a third of the size of the older model and incorporates automatic plate feeding, slip-sheet removal, and punching. Not content to just sell hardware, however, Currie Group is also Australia’s biggest distributor of Agfa thermal plates, and has a relationship with Agfa going back 35 years. It offers a free 12-month trial of the Founder workflow software suite with any CRON CTP purchase. All this means Currie Group can provide a complete package for its CTP customers. “Nine times out of ten our customers end up buying the software, which includes all the bells and whistles you’d expect as standard. We like to sell the whole product – hardware, software and consumables,” said Robinson.

Currie Group plans to deepen its partnership with CRON and enter another new market sector. “We would like to get involved in the flexo CTP market, and CRON’s just released a model for that,” he said. “We’re putting a plate package together.”

“It’s a significant upgrade,” Vince Pignataro, Currie Group.

New and old customers

So far this year, Currie Group has installed three CRON CTP devices in Australia. Two new TP-3632H machines went into Melbourne, with one sold to existing customer Tara Press, and the other to first-time buyer Landmark Printing. According to Vince Pignataro, sales representative at Currie Group, part of the TP-3632H’s appeal is its small footprint. “It’s very compact, but that’s not all – it’s also thermal so it can run direct to press, and you can attach a washout unit or chemical processor on the end for high-volume or UV work,” he said.

Bayswater-based Tara Press, which has operated for 30 years, is a long-time customer of Currie Group with several Horizon machines servicing its finishing needs. Owner Tony Lamonica invested in the company’s first CRON CTP device, the TP-3632H, at the beginning of the year as an upgrade to its ECRM Mako 4. He believes the machine was a worthwhile investment, given its affordable price point and high quality. “It’s given us access to current thermal technology, saved us space in comparison to other machines on the market, and gives us better output quality than the old model. Great value for money,” he said.

The new machine has improved Tara’s plate and print quality, and Lamonica appreciates the support he receives from the distributor. “Currie Group is a great supplier, the sales people are excellent and the service people are friendly. The install was pretty straightforward, no complaints there at all,” said Lamonica.

According to Pignataro, Tara Press has been a fantastic long-term client of Currie Group. “A mid-sized client with good volume of print, they cater for the packaging and commercial offset sectors. We’ve got a great working relationship; they’ve purchased multiple machines from us over the years,” he said.

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

Across town in Braeside, Landmark Printing is a family-run business that’s been operating for more than two decades. Traditionally offset specialists, Landmark has branched out into digital, flatbed and wide-format in recent years. However, demand for offset printing remains high, and according to Vivek Sharma, the company’s old manual CTP platemaker wasn’t keeping up. “With our old machine, when we had to make a lot of plates, someone had to manually feed them in,” he said. “If you just put one plate in, walked away and forgot to load the next, then platemaking stopped.”

“The machine is loaded with features for a competitive price,” Vivek Sharma, Landmark Printing, shows off the CRON TP-3632H thermal CTP platesetter.

The solution came in the form of the CRON TP-3632H, installed at Landmark late last year. With its automatic feed system and plate stacker, the new platesetter has dramatically boosted both quality and productivity. “Now you just load the plates in and leave it. It’s significantly improved our platemaking efficiencies and broken the bottleneck,” said Sharma. “The machine is loaded with features for a competitive price, and the performance we are getting is better than what is acceptable in the market.”

To back up the purchase, Currie Group sent technicians to install the machine and train operators on its use. A representative stayed at Landmark for a full week to help out, then came back three months later to follow up and answer questions. Sharma was impressed with the support his company received. “Currie Group supplies good equipment and supports it well, so we have no complaints so far,” he said. “We’re a first time customer – we’ve known Currie Group for a while, but it’s the first time we’ve bought something from them. We’d have no hesitation to go back to them for equipment in future.”

Pignataro has known Sharma for years, and is pleased to have him invest in Currie Group equipment. “It was a good opportunity for us to offer them the machine, support, and technical backup,” he said. “The new CRON is a significant upgrade – they’re achieving better results on their print and a much more stable plate. They saw Currie Group as a large organisation that’ll be around a long time to service and support their machines.”

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