Posts Tagged ‘Currie Group’

  • Hornet’s Horizon BQ-470 PUR/EVA binder

    The Horizon BQ-470 PUR/EVA binder at Eastlink Bookbinding.

    When John Mandile, a bookbinder by trade, saw a lack of trade bookbinding services on Melbourne’s south side, he jumped at the opportunity to expand his business – and Currie Group provided just the tool he needed to do it.

    Currie Group supplied Mandile, the owner of Hornet Press, with the Horizon BQ-470 PUR/EVA binder, which gave him a huge leg up for his new trade finishing house, Eastlink Finishing. “It’s a great little machine,” he said. “We’re binding runs of up to 10,000 on it, it’s upped our own print because we can now do PUR and perfect binding in-house, and it’s given us an array of new clientele for Eastlink. We’re doing a lot of trade PUR binding for other printers since we bought it.”

    Since Eastlink launched in January, Mandile (pictured left) has been impressed with how the BQ-470 has handled everything he’s thrown at it. “It’s versatile – you can use it for small books, large books, short and longer runs. The setup is really quick, and they’re actually pretty bulletproof. They don’t take up a lot of space, and they’re very reliable.

    “It’s one of the best pieces of equipment that I own, aside from my printing presses,” he said. “Horizon kit is really good – it’s dependable, it’s quick, it does the job. For what we use it for, it’s excellent.”

    Currie Group account manager Vince Pignataro says Hornet Press is a long-term client that has purchased multiple pieces of equipment from Currie Group over the years. He says the new Horizon binder is a significant upgrade for the company.

    “The Horizon BQ-470/four clamp perfect binder offers PUR and EVA which covers all work quality from offset to digital stocks. The PUR gives Hornet Press the ability to produce a flatter looking book, when opened. Another important aspect of PUR glue binding is that the pages are very strong and it’s much less likely that the pages will ever fall out.”

    Currie Group’s service and support have also earned Mandile’s seal of approval, and the first-time customer says he’ll definitely go back and buy again in future. “Currie Group is an excellent supplier. They gave us a date they’d install the machine, and they installed it on that date – they even offered to put in another machine beforehand until ours arrived in Australia,” he said.

  • State of Indigo at State of Origin

    (Clockwise, from front left) Peter Lowe (Graphic Packaging International), Phillip Rennell (Sales & Marketing Director, Currie Group), Matt Naughton (Printcraft), Tania Naughton (Printcraft), Adrian Shoobridge (Graphic Packaging International), Peter Smith (Dashing Group), Shaun MacDonald (Dashing Group), Tom Kellythorn (Operations Manager, Currie Group), Marcus Robinson (Service Manager ANZ, Currie Group).

    The winners of Currie Group’s inaugural State of Indigo competition cheered on their NSW Blues team in a hard-fought State of Origin game 1 win over the ‘Maroons’ at the MCG.

    After eight weeks of tough competition based on the weekly Print Beat scores of HP Indigo printers, the NSW Blues came away with the State of Indigo title.

    The state winners from NSW, Graphic Packaging International and Dashing Group, and Queensland MVP Printcraft were flown to Melbourne to stay overnight as VIP guests of HP and Currie Group before enjoying a corporate suite at the opening game of the 2018 State of Origin series.

    A full corporate hospitality programme allowed the winners to rub shoulders with Origin legends Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin, Willie Mason and Gordon Tallis.

    The State of Indigo competition is based on the weekly Print Beat scores of HP Indigo printers, with adjustments made to ensure a level playing field – mostly through factoring in week-over-week improvement percentages.

    PrintOS Print Beat is a cloud-based print optimisation solution that delivers historical and near real-time data for improved print operations.

    HP was represented by its Solutions Manager, Daniel Blau (5th from left).

    Marcus Robinson (Service Manager ANZ, Currie Group) meets Origin legend Willie Mason.

    Robinson (right) meets QLD Origin legend and commentator Gorden Tallis.

    The view from the corporate suites at the MCG.


  • Currie Group turns 65 years – meet the man at the helm: Print21 magazine article

    In running a business, as in sailing a boat, only so much can be learned from books; the rest relies on sense, instinct and experience. Mostly it is a measure of character. It is 45 years since David Currie stepped aboard his family’s business, 65 years since his father, Bill Currie, first set up as a printing engineer in Melbourne, and 21 years since Bill passed away. On a significant anniversary the man on the bridge of the largest privately-owned graphic arts supplier in the industry shares some of his views and experiences with Patrick Howard.

    There is a danger when celebrating anniversaries that the focus will be unduly on past achievements at the expense of current innovation and imaginative strategies. This is especially true in the printing industry where the technology and business landscape is undergoing remorseless change and constant renewal. In busy day-to-day engagement there is little time to look back at where we have come from; past events provide scant guidance to the future when terms of trade are under such pressure. But there is value to be gleaned by recognising the attributes and talents of individuals who have successfully navigated the seas of change and risen to the top of their field. Studying the quality of decisions made over the course of a lifetime and the determination and commitment brought to the task at hand can teach us much.

    David Currie is the most successful graphic arts merchant in Australia and New Zealand. His enterprise, Currie Group, is the largest privately-owned supplier of equipment, consumables and technology to the printing industry in the region. This year its total revenue will be similar to that of long-term rival merchant, Heidelberg Australia & NZ. It is a visionary, integrated company delivering such iconic technologies as HP Indigo digital presses, Horizon print finishing equipment, Cron CTP and Scodix digital embellishing. In addition, Currie Group invoices over $3 million a month in clicks and offset printing consumables such as Agfa plates, T&K Toka inks and chemistry. Ironically, for a company that started out in print engineering, it has no offset presses in its portfolio, not one, nothing, absolutely zero.

    It is in this latter singular fact that the true nature of David Currie, businessman, can be discerned. That Currie Group does not deal in offset presses, despite being shaped by the technology for most of its existence, underscores an essential ability to recognise the changing winds of technology and market conditions and move decisively to adapt. Or as David Currie puts it, “Part of our success is that we’ve always changed gears much faster than anybody else.”

    What’s in a name?

    When David Currie joined his father’s business in 1969 at the age of 18, printing presses were mostly letterpress. Offset presses were starting to make inroads into the industry but there was still debate as to whether they could ever match the quality. For the young Currie, coming straight from school, the reality of printing engineering and working on lathes and milling machines was a life-changing revelation.

    “I started on the tools, in the machine shop, going out to help pull down dirty old machines and coming home in the evening with greasy overalls and dirty hands. And I just couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I saw my private school mates going off to university or going into well-paid jobs while I was on a first-year apprentice wages. The life expectancy then was to start having nicer cars, nicer holidays… but not on my wage.”

    The Currie engineering business was at the forefront of a time when change was picking up speed. Bill Currie was ambitious to grow the business but as technology moved into a new electronic phase, the ability of companies to operate independently of manufacturers was restricted. There was no way to survive unless you dealt with manufacturers directly.

    At this time, David Currie was in charge of transport, shifting and helping to install presses for such luminary companies as FT Wimble and Tomasetti. It wasn’t long before father and son had their own trading company, IPES (Integrated Printing Equipment Services) with some partners from VRG, another paper-cum-machinery company based in Sydney.

    Going overseas in the company of experienced traders was a seminal and eye-opening experience. A trip to Japan in 1977 saw the young Currie involved in buying the first Shinohara (then called Fuji) offset press, bringing it back and installing it the following year at Patterson Press in Melbourne. In that first trade the young man discovered his destiny as a graphic arts merchant; there would be no going back to working on the lathe.

    The partners of IPES soon separated and the business, now known as WA Currie & Company, took off on a trajectory that saw it represent a pantheon of offset press manufacturers over the years; Koenig & Bauer, Miller, Planeta, Hamada, Akiyama and Shinohara. “And that’s just the offset presses,” said Currie.

    In 1981, Currie met a similar aged but very shy Japanese man named Eijiro Hori who also worked for his father in their Japanese manufacturing company. This friendship with the owner of Horizon International still continues today, not only as close business associates but also as firm family friends.

    David Currie displays a HP Indigo print digitally enhanced with Scodix embellishment at Currie Group's high-tech Hawthorn showroom.

    Currie Group (as it became six years ago) represented a host of other brands in such sectors as business form presses, finishing and consumables. Many of these once-iconic names are gone now, consumed in mergers, taken over or gone out of business, or overtaken by changes in technology. Much the same has happened on the production side of offset printing in Australia, which has changed almost beyond recognition. There are far fewer printers now than previously.

    “I can remember a database in the early- to mid-1980s. We identified 15,000 printers we could sell to. We’d be struggling to get 2,000 now. The consolidation of the industry has been quite dramatic. There is a merger, collapse or acquisition happening every week. Look at Snap. They were big customers of ours for small offset such as Hamada. They don’t even produce now, they get CMYKhub to do it,” he said.

    “I helped set up their hubs in Queensland, NSW and part of Western Australia. The Queensland one is totally shut and no doubt the trend will continue. None of the Snap guys will ever buy an offset press again. All they do is convenience copying – the sophisticated stuff is done by trade printers.”

    “I knew your father”

    The graphic arts is a family-dominated industry. Despite the irruption of private equity players in the past decade, printing is an industry where individuals have their livelihoods, destinies and reputations on the line. There is longevity to printing business ownership and relationships, a trans-generational legacy that thrives on knowing who you’re dealing with. David Currie finds he is sometimes dealing with the grandchildren of his original customers.

    “Experience counts for so much. My son now at university has a big bushy beard. My daughter asked, ‘Dad, have you ever had a beard?’. When I was in my mid-twenties I had a baby face. I was dealing with people who were old enough to be my father, sometimes my grandfather, and I was always trying make myself look more experienced, so I grew a beard.

    “At that stage I was dealing with a generation that was considerably older than me. I remember taking Ray Norgate of McKellar Renown to Japan where I sold him a two-colour Shinohara. He’s the grandfather of the kids who are running it now.

    “Then there was a generation who were my age, sort of. They were the movers and shakers of the industry, the guys who were in their forties when I was late twenties, early thirties. You ran all around the place with them, all over Australia, trips overseas, that sort of thing. All of a sudden, those people died, sold out, went broke or whatever.

    “I’m fortunate now that I’ve got a group of customers who are friends that I deal with personally. They’re 10 to 15 years younger than me, now turning 50. I hosted a group in Sydney who were all 50 in December; Craig Walker of IPG and his partner Rod McCall, John Wanless, Bambra Press, and Michael McDiarmid, Emerald Press. When they start talking about going to retire you really start to worry. By the way, Leo Moio (Print Media Group) didn’t qualify because he is already 52.

    “Then you can look at CMYKhub. Trent Nankervis, who is 34, runs it and his father Gary, who is my age, is in the background semi-retired. It’s very much the old bull and the young bull story.”

    As second-generation himself, third if you count Albert Rushbrooke, his maternal grandfather who worked at the Government Printer in Victoria, David Currie identifies the pluses and minuses of the generational shift. The printing industry has been good to many people who have made a very good life out of it. As with his own children, they go to university and in a perfect world there may be interest to further the family involvement.

    “However, unlike the baby boomers who were expected to go into the family business, Gen X and Y have so many more choices, although the competition is now very tough.

    “Although industry news has been dominated by high profile names and venture capital, there are family names – such as the Hannas, Hannans, MacNamaras, Norgates, Easons and Murphys – who have successfully brought in the next generation. There are high profile suppliers like Doggetts also making the transition.

    “Then there are lots of smaller companies that are third and fourth generations. If I go through our active top 100 customers there is quite a smattering of older companies. The vast majority are privately owned and there are certainly many generational ones in there. Look at Planet Press in Sydney run by the Marsh family. In my early days I recall selling a folding machine to Colin, the father, who was quite a bit older than me, but Russell, Peter and their sister Joanne are running the business today.”

    Stepping up to the mark

    David Currie is fond of saying that “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. But there is more to it than that.

    It was a combination of good luck and the willingness to take a massive risk that gained Currie Group the iconic Indigo – now HP Indigo – agency in 2001. With the benefit of hindsight it seems like a no brainer to accept the digital agency. But when he was offered it at PacPrint 2001the future was not so clear-cut; digital technology was still battling quality and reliability issues. Resistance from the offset industry was massive. It was also before HP stepped in and gave Benny Landa’s Indigo the huge cash investment required to transform digital printing into a viable imaging solution.

    “It was Andy Middleton of Indigo who walked onto my stand at PacPrint. They knew we had the customer base because we were so successful in that A3 market. But there was a lot to it. I had to come up with the money. I sold the original property that Dad started here in Hawthorn to set it up. I had to buy everything from ODIS, stock machines, all the parts and the existing service agreements. Within the first six months we copped an enormous bad debt from Colour Solutions (the original Melbourne Indigo site) of approximately $150,000.”

    Father and son: Bill Currie's portrait, painted by his wife and David's mother, Marjorie, has a place of honour in the Currie Group boardroom.

    The Indigo agency was without doubt the single most significant deal David Currie has made, and one that now contributes over half the Group’s revenue. But David Currie has form when it comes to acquiring businesses, with a long line of acquisitions that have made the company what it is today. He tallies the roll call by the individuals who came with the businesses rather than the technologies; Bernie Robinson, managing director, came with AM International, the consumables business acquired in 2000. Phillip Rennell, sales and marketing director, and Mark Dawes, general manager of the labels and packaging division, were part of the ODIS/Indigo takeover. Most recently, Tim Stafford, sales manager of the labels and packaging division, came across with the buy-out of Universal Print Partners, the Melbourne-based label equipment company.

    Along with Andrew Fitzpatrick, finance director, they go to make up a management team that David Currie considers the equal of anything in the industry. Now Currie Group is on a growth path, looking for new employees in sales and service and fresh acquisitions.

    “There is growth in all product areas. New Zealand is on fire for us now. The hardest thing is to find good people. We could put on ten people in sales and service if I could find them,” he said.

    Despite having successfully created a sustaining enterprise with a management structure that allows him the luxury of stepping back, David Currie has little time for talk of retirement. He is very hands-on, his life enmeshed in the industry, the barriers between business and friendship, professional and social almost redundant. He lives at a pace that would exhaust many a younger man. In the weeks before our meeting he returned from circumnavigating Tasmania in his power boat to join the Currie exhibition truck in Perth, meeting customers and sealing deals. He recently returned from Israel where he hosted a group of customers to explore the future of HP Indigo’s packaging sector.

    “This is a people business. Contracts are still written on the back of beer coasters. I still get excited with the technology and doing business. I’ve met some great characters in the industry, made lots of close friends. But you never know the future, or when and how to pick it. No one knows.”

    That may appear self-evident but in David Currie’s case it is an understanding informed by lived experience. In a lifetime in the printing industry he has sailed perilously close to disaster as well as enjoyed solid triumph. No one is better placed to navigate the treacherous seas of uncertainty.

  • Horizon digital print finishing is perfect for CMYKhub

    A dedicated digital print finishing line to handle output from its new HP Indigo 5500 is a major investment for the Melbourne trade-printing house.

    “It is expensive but it’s worth it,” said Trent Nankervis. “There are different expectations from digital, such as 24 hour turnaround. The jobs are smaller too. My concern with mixing digital and our offset production was that the smaller digital pallets might get lost floating around among the bigger pallets. It’s better to keep them separate.”

    Nankervis is firmly convinced that most of the printing from his iconic trade printing company will remain offset. There are economies in offset that cannot be matched in digital, which will become even more evident when he takes delivery of his new Komori 8-colour in May (see pp20).

    But instead of trying mix and blend the two printing streams, Nankervis, scion of the distinguished Melbourne printing family, set up a completely separate digital printing factory across the road from his West Heidelberg headquarters. In addition to the HP Indigo 5500 he assembled a state of the art Horizon finishing line designed to handle the specific requirements of digital printing.

    “Horizon is terrific value for more ROI. It’s not as costly as some of the other high-end offset equipment, but it operates just as good. And we get great service from Currie,” he said.

    Among the new pieces of Horizon equipment is a CRF362, creaser folder, the essential item for any digital printing finishing line. This was released last year at drupa and is already becoming a serious contender for the most popular creaser folder in the industry.

    In addition CMYKhub installed a BQ470 4-clamp perfect binder to automate its digital book production. The binder has exchangeable tanks, able to use either EVA for all types of binding and PUR for coated stock and flat-lying books.

    Trent Nankervis reckons the perfect binder provides the perfect combination with the new HP Indigo.

    Rounding off the high-powered line is a Horizon 5500 Stitchliner complete with three-knife trimmer.  At 5,500 booklets/hr and combining the advantages of flat sheet collating, saddle stitching and three-knife trimming, the booklet making system is ideal for short to mid-range production runs.

    “I’ve had the Stitchliner for five years and we’ve put through an amazing amount of work. It’s a great piece of equipment, with make ready times in a matter of minutes,” he said.

    Focused on Customers

    There is no doubt that a printer of Trent Nankervis’ experience could have made a success of blending digital and offset print production but he is totally focused on customer service, with meeting his printing customers expectations.

    “Look, there are cultural issues between offset and digital. I’m amazed at the amount of time I’m spending with the team going through jobs that should have been done differently,” he said.

    CMYKhub operates a rules-based workflow, which is highly automated, but it cannot completely eliminate the judgement calls that are required. “There will always be twenty to thirty percent of jobs outside the normal rules, so you have to keep on writing new rules. It’s a touch point where skill and knowledge still comes into it,” said Trent.

    Bernie Robinson, managing director, Currie Group, has customers who have successfully blended their new digital stream into an established offset production, but he understands where Trent Nankervis is coming from. “Look, it can be done. Many of our customers have Horizon finishing lines with collators, stackers and binders. They are still able to use the same equipment when they turn to digital, especially with the addition of the new Horizon CRF-362 creaser/folder,” he said.

    “But I know why Trent has kept them separate. He runs a very intense business with tight deadlines and a reputation for reliability. CMYKhub is a textbook example of how to assemble a digital printing site from scratch,” he said.