Posts Tagged ‘Currie Group’

  • Currie Care Centre

    Currie Group has one of the largest service support teams in the industry for Australia & New Zealand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Right people, right place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

    Currie Group has one of the largest support teams in the industry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Right people, right place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

  • Print21 and PKN LIVE at Monkey Baa – VIDEO

    Lindy Hughson, publisher of Print21 and PKN Packaging News, at the LIVE event.

    The inaugural Print21 + PKN LIVE event was a rousing success, with a full house turning out to hear industry experts discuss the best ways to push back the boundaries of packaging print.

    168 people registered for the event, held at the Monkey Baa Theatre in Darling Harbour, Sydney, on Friday August 3. Lindy Hughson, publisher of Print21 and PKN, was delighted with the success of this first-ever co-branded LIVE event for Print21 and PKN. “The speaker content was of a very high standard, relevant and engaging, and the positive vibe among delegates on the day was tangible during the networking sessions,” she said. “It’s great to be in a position to take the lead on creating an information-sharing and networking forum of this calibre for our packaging and printing community.”

    Pierre Pienaar (right), WPO, and Amber Bonney, The Edison Agency.

    Among the guests was Pierre Pienaar, president of the World Packaging Organisation, who told Print21 and PKN he found LIVE rewarding and stimulating. “There was a great line-up of speakers who delivered their content well,” he said. “As with PKN’s previous LIVE events, the networking was fantastic.”

    Ruth Cobb, PrintNZ (left), with Mark Daws, Currie Group.

    Ruth Cobb, general manager of PrintNZ, also made the trip to Sydney with several of her members to attend. “It was a great day and a good chance to catch up with many people,” she said. “It was good to see a few Kiwis had made the trip across the ditch. There was some useful information that came out of the sessions and it is always good to hear from the converters themselves, as well as the machinery suppliers.”

    Long-time PKN LIVE sponsor Currie Group was the headline sponsor, along with HP, for the event. Mark Daws, director of labels and packaging at Currie Group, said he was delighted to have the opportunity be part of this first-off event for the packaging print community. “The positive vibe was palpable, the speakers delivered engaging, interesting content that was well received by all those I have spoken to. I look forward to the next LIVE event,” he said.

    The day’s four sessions covered driving consumer engagement, packaging design trends, game-changing technology, and the ‘future unpacked’. Speakers and panelists included Laura Demasi, director of consumer and social trends at Roy Morgan Research, who delivered the keynote address; Amber Bonney, creative director at the Edison Agency; Mark Daws, director of labels and packaging at the Currie Group; Geoff Selig, executive chairman at IVE Group; and Andrew Macaulay, CEO of Printing Industries.

    Setting up for the big day!

    Picture 1 of 30

  • Hits & misses make the most of IGAS

    Tokyo Typhoon Number 12 of the season was a fizzer, a bit of a blow but nothing to bother the printers attending IGAS at Big Site out in the Bay. It came and went within a few hours; rain and wind enough to alarm the woman at the Heidelberg showroom where I was on Saturday afternoon. She urged us to get out quickly to avoid being stranded. Perhaps a little over the top, but …

    So, why was I at the Heidelberg showroom in Tokyo? Well here’s how the second part of my IGAS went.

    IGAS is an international exhibition, although overseas visitors are still only a small part of it. It’s international in that every manufacturer of note exhibits and as is becoming increasingly obvious that means most are Japanese firms. There are the large well known brands, but a walk around IGAS shows clearly the depth of ingenuity and industry in small firms and startups driving the printing equipment industry in Japan.


    With notable exceptions of course – HP is the eight hundred pound US gorilla in the centre of printing. Its digital reach is immense, encompassing every aspect of printing and packaging. In a prime position just inside the entrance in Hall 1 visitors were treated to a display of printed packaging that leaves no doubt that the future is definitely digital. It provided a testament to just how far the technology has been pushed and how this show was mostly about industrial printing mostly packaging.


    Konica Minolta Australian and Japanese colleagues (L to r) David Cascarino, Toshitaka Uemura, Koji Asaka and Anthony ‘AJ’ Jackson.

    Friday afternoon I had an appointment to meet with people from Konica Minolta who took time to talk about the 145-year-old company. Toshitaka Uemura, GM industry print business and Koji Asaka, assistant manager, are fine examples of all that’s best about Japanese corporate life. Dedicated and loyal they not only know the technology, but also are also deeply versed in the ethos and history of the company.

    There’s plenty of disparagement about the supposedly oppressed Japanese ‘salary men’ but they’re a remarkably hardworking and loyal bunch and these two were anything but put upon. Well informed too, as Uemura-san took me through the development of the company, its history as a photo and camera business and its prospects as a manufacturer of leading digital technology.

    There’s no doubt the Accurio KM1 is the flagship, a B2 inkjet press that is the first real contender to HP Indigo’s dominance. But there’s more in the portfolio too. The MGI digital embellishment JetVarnish 30 engine was prominent on the stand.

    Watch for a re-worked version of the Accurio Label press in the next few months, moving away from its BizHub-box appearance while still sticking with toner. It’s the technology the market wants, says Uemura-san, who was part of the planning team. He reckons the inkjet label sector is very well served but there’s a gap in the market where toner works in terms of cost and quality. And he gives every impression of knowing about what he speaks.


    Label specialist, Taishi Motoshige, (left) showed me around the Screen stand and introduced me to Ayaka Sasaki who looks after the CTP.

    Just next door Screen, another iconic Japanese manufacturer had a very busy stand. Based in the imperial city of Kyoto it has successfully reinvented itself as the market for its emblematic platemaking technology dwindled and almost died. But Screen is one of the few in the world still manufacturing CTP machines and lo and behold, there’s a new version released at this IGAS. A stripped-down unit aimed at the replacement market in developing countries, the PlateRite 8600NII can be upgraded with all the latest technology. As with much of Screen’s well-regarded technology, it’s widely rebadged and OEM’d.

    If you think a new CTP verges on the anachronistic, I was astounded to see a new proofing press on the stand, the Proof Jet F780 Mark ll. Who’d have thought sections of the Japanese media and advertising industry still insist on a proof from a proofing press? I mean, what’s the point, when it’s not going to be printed on the proofing press? Still, that’s what they want and Screen is happy to provide it.

    However, don’t let me give you the impression that Screen is caught in a weird time warp. Most of its stand was a model display of high-powered digital printing with two versions of the high-speed Truepress Jet, one for direct marketing production, the other for graphic arts; very impressive results. No sign yet of a cut sheet version.

    Fascinated to see the developments of Screen’s label press, with a new version out for the show, the TruePress L350UV+LM. The LM stands for low-migration; an ink set aiming to avoid any challenges to its suitability for labels on food products. Next to it was an Italian laser die cutter, a Cartes GE361L producing the best results from the technology I’ve seen. The label roll is split as it enters the machine with the printed layer being laser cut from the rear before being reunited with the liner. Clever solution that solves most of the angle cut problems from using lasers.


    Nothing to see here again, I’m afraid.

    One of the disappointments of IGAS was the no show of the Canon Voyager, the much-hyped flagship graphic arts digital press. I saw it at last drupa, but it wasn’t operating. The samples on display were tremendous. Same at IGAS. Lots of fabulous samples behind glass, lots of banners promoting the model, but no actual press. There were no English speaking staff, insofar as I could find, so I’m no wiser as to what’s happening with the Voyager. Perhaps it’s not for the Japanese market.

    There was an Océ Colorado there, promoted as a Canon product.


    David Currie, Australian IGAS-san and still a formidable printing equipment salesman.

    After a couple of days of missed calls, I managed to get in front of David Currie, executive chairman Currie Group, on the Saturday morning. I was keen to meet in Tokyo because David, if anyone, is the Australian IGAS-san. He tells me he’s being coming to the show for 31 years, ever since he hooked up with long-term friend and partner Hori-san, founder and owner of Horizon. (Hori-san… Horizon. Geddit?)

    We forget that at that time in the 1980s there was a sense, much promoted by competitors, that ‘Made in Japan’ was somehow dodgy and inferior. Certainly the trail David Currie blazed at the time was the road less travelled. Of course, nowadays, Japanese technology is the benchmark of quality and innovation.

    Such is the case with the vast range of equipment on the Horizon stand, the largest at IGAS, and not only on the Horizon stand but on others too, such as Ricoh and HP. In fact almost all the digital press manufacturers are using Horizon finishing kit.

    We tried to track Hori-san for a celebratory photo, but he wasn’t to be found. Then true to form, David Currie transformed into a younger version of himself as a Horizon equipment product manager and gave me a pretty comprehensive tour of the stand. Sure, he’s got people to do that for him, but once a printing equipment salesman …


    Anniversary celebrations for Richard Timson, whose 30 years with Heidelberg, man and boy, was commemorated with a gift of saki from Shuya Mizyno, president of Heidelberg Japan and Thomas Frank, head of sales Asia Pacific, who is also a 30-year Heidelberg veteran.

    Saturday afternoon with the typhoon closing in it was time to taxi to the Heidelberg showroom in Shinagawa. (Travel tip: never trust the driver over Google maps.) The German press manufacturer, represented by the redoubtable Thomas Frank, was showing off its Smart Print Shop concept while virtually promoting the new digital Primefire. There was no actual showing of the inkjet (at the Heidelberg IGAS stand visitors donned goggle-style glasses for a virtual tour) but there was a mighty Speedmaster XL 106, which proceeded to print 12 jobs of 150 sheets each (20 waste sheets per job) in 30 minutes, without operator intervention.

    While the printing was underway, the plates changing automatically and the press autonomously adjusting the settings, we were taken on a tour of the full print process, including the Versafire, which produced 26 digital jobs at the same time, again without operator input.

    Heidelberg promotes the concept as digitally controlled printing. Hugely productive to meet the challenge of the digital world, Frank also mentioned the ‘r’ word as in ‘rent a press’ with all the consumables supplied. This is the reality of the ‘subscription printing’ scheme being promoted by the company to drive new sales. It’s attempting to change the concept of how you go about owning productive print. Richard Timson, managing director ANZ says he’s close to getting the first Australian customer signed on.


    Determined to win: Tomomitsu Harada, is new managing director of the Australian company.

    Monday morning saw me heading west out of Tokyo to Tomi, halfway across the main island to visit the Mimaki plant. The aggressive and competitive wide format brand makes no bones about its drive to win market share in Australia and New Zealand. Tomomitsu Harada, the new managing director of the Australian company, unabashedly takes pride in his determined sales drive. At 31 it’s his first overseas managing director’s role and he’s determined to make the most of it. Bringing his family here in September, he’s settling in Chatswood, where else?

    Mimaki has one of the largest ranges of wide format equipment in the sector. With a company goal to double its revenue to $US1 billion within five years it’s the very model of a ‘win at all costs’ Japanese company. Fascinating to hear Harada quote the ‘beat sheet’ used by his salespeople; equipment that’s half the investment cost of rivals, ink that’s always cheaper, service that is aiming to be 100% performed by the company with a few years.

    There’s no doubting the engineering quality of Mimaki, but what makes it stand out for me is its sheer sales drive to win. It’s only been going direct in the local market for four years but expect to hear a lot more from the full-on Harada. He’ll be here in time for Visual Impact in Sydney where he promises to unveil a few surprises.


    The Epson stand, where I missed my walk through with Alastair Bourne, was packed with good gear such as the Surepress L-6034VW. It also provided my first sight of the LX-10000F, the Workforce engine that’s bringing PrecisionCore inkjet technology into the office and small production sectors.

    And that’s it from me in Japan. It was a great show. I messed up with a couple of appointments, notably with Epson on Monday (my apologies Alastair – see photo above). Check out the next issue of Print21 magazine for full IGAS report.

    Now I’m off to Haneda airport for an overnighter to Sydney. See you at the Yaffa LIVE Forum on Friday.

    Sayonara.

  • Currie Group service headlines Print21 mag

    The latest issue of Print21 magazine is out now, featuring an in-depth look at the science of colour, a tour of FESPA 2018 in Berlin, profiles of industry identities, and more.

    This month’s cover features the Currie Care Centre, Currie Group’s way of ensuring its customers receive world-class service long after the techs have got their new machines up and running. Marcus Robinson, service manager for Australia and New Zealand at Currie Group, believes Currie Care works for printers. “From a helicopter point of view I believe we’re the largest across the industry in end-to-end service. We have such a plethora of service offerings,” he said.

    From Berlin, Nessan Cleary reports on a FESPA show that turned its attention towards industrial markets. “Conventional wisdom has it that large-format printing is mainly about sign making and display graphics, but wide-format inkjet technology is pushing beyond this, which was abundantly clear at this year’s main FESPA event in Berlin, Germany,” he writes.

    Colour management can be one of the fiddlier parts of any printer’s process. Fortunately Andy McCourt is on hand with a three-page feature on accurately measuring and controlling your colour. “A properly-managed closed-loop colour workflow where the process is strictly followed to produce predictable and repeatable colour is readily achievable,” he assures.

    In a pair of printing industry profiles, Patrick Howard speaks to Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA, on the turnaround in Printing Industries over the last few years; and to Mitch Mulligan of Bottcher on the 20th anniversary of the supplier setting up shop in Australia.

    All this plus a deep dive into benchtop UV printing, Australia’s second KM-1 digital press, a slew of new equipment installs, and all the news that’s fit about print make this issue of Print21 magazine a great way to while away those winter blues. Check it out here!

    To subscribe to our print edition, go here or email editor@print21.com.au.

  • 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.