Posts Tagged ‘Mitch Mulligan’

  • Rollers set for shake-up – Print21 magazine feature

    The offset roller business is not one that regularly makes the headlines but with the entry of US giant, RotaDyne, into the local market, this key component sector looks set for a shake-up. Alison Stieven-Taylor examines the changing dynamics of the local supply scene.

    In what is likely to be a positive move for manufacturing in Australia, US roller company Rotation Dynamics Corp (RotaDyne) announced late last year its decision to acquire two local roller businesses, Ace Rollers/Rollmakers, giving it an Australian base for the Asia Pacific region.

    According to industry sources, RotaDyne had been looking for some time for an opportunity to set up a manufacturing facility in the Australian market where its rollers are distributed by Heidelberg under that company’s Saphira consumables brand. According to US-based president and CEO, Tom Gilson, RotaDyne sees Australia as a viable manufacturing base in which “to grow our business… and to further expand into other industries in the Asia Pacific region.” This is good news for local print service providers.

    But in a contracting market like print, another player, especially one with close ties to major press manufacturers, is bound to shake things up amongst the suppliers.

    The roller market in Australia has been serviced for many years by only a handful of companies. Brissett Rollers, founded by Terry Brissett, is the longest standing printing press roller manufacturer and supplier in Australia. Alongside Brissetts, German giant Böttcher is also a major supplier locally and is recognised as the largest manufacturer of rollers on a global scale. And now there’s RotaDyne, a heavy hitter with a presence in more than 50 countries and a vast range of roller products for all sorts of applications.

    “We have a long tradition of investing in R&D,” Mitch Mulligan, Böttcher Australia.

    Local legend

    The elder statesman of the roller industry in Australia, Terry Brissett, has been supplying the local market since 1960. The company’s success is largely attributable to his technical capacity to develop solutions for various roller applications, as well as a personal approach to service. The company has a manufacturing site in Sydney and national representation.

    Brissett Rollers has experienced the highs and lows of the printing industry, in its halcyon days employing more than 100 staff and manufacturing for the region. Today, its staff of 40 services a reduced client base, reflecting the changes in the print sector. For many years, Brissett Rollers had the market sewn up but the entry of other players has eroded market share, says Terry Brissett matter-of-factly, as has the continued attrition of print businesses.

    “We are still very strong in newspapers and the web area and we do that very well, but I expect these segments will continue to decline also,” although he asserts that the downturn will bottom out and “newspapers won’t go away completely”.

    Given Brissett Rollers’ longevity, I am curious to know if RotaDyne made an approach before acquiring Ace. Brissett confirms there was interest. “But there are always three or four people interested in our company. Interested is one thing and going ahead is another, especially in the print market, where nothing is concrete.”

    Anticipating further contraction in the print roller sector, Brissett Rollers, like its counterparts, is expanding its range to encompass other industrial markets.

    Made in Melbourne

    Since December 2012, RotaDyne Australia has been operating from its new Australian manufacturing site in Cheltenham, around 20km south-east of Melbourne’s CBD, in what was the Rollmakers plant. The company has already invested in updating the Cheltenham site with further improvements and additional process machinery including state-of-the-art quality testing equipment to be installed later this year.

    RotaDyne currently operates manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia and across the US. As a major manufacturer, it is one of the few international companies that can control all phases of manufacturing, producing a diverse range of roller and rubber-compound products. The company’s new Australian managing director, Angus Scott, former owner of Ace Rollers, says: “The decision to manufacture in Australia was made to give a no delay service to the local print market. This includes common type press rollers as well as rollers for other industries such as wood, metal, glass, board, film, food and so on.”

    This diversity reflects Ace’s supply channel which includes light industrial markets as well as the printing industry.

    Scott continues: “The confidence by RotaDyne Corporate to invest in manufacturing in Australia exhibits strength in commitment, knowing that customers benefit in service levels and flexibility by using locally manufactured products. We at RotaDyne work closely with our customers, bringing the skills of our people, with the latest technology, to work as a team so as to offer solutions which meet exacting specifications. We have the ability to adapt to the ever-changing market and intend to take a larger share.”

    RotaDyne is a member of the Global Roller Technologies Group which consists of more than 50 manufacturing facilities located in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Mexico, South America and Asia. It also has ten R&D facilities around the globe. Tom Gilson says the acquisition of Ace supports the company’s global philosophy to manufacture locally.

    “Our investment in Ace is another example of our commitment to the print media industry and also to Heidelberg our worldwide distributor.”

    The Australian facility will be accredited by Heidelberg whose fastidious approach to quality bodes well for those using the RotaDyne product. As Glenn Plummer explains, ”Heidelberg has a relationship with RotaDyne that spans the globe and we have been selling RotaDyne made rollers under our Saphira brand in Australia and New Zealand for some time. Local production means faster response to our customers and the ability to supply large orders and specials on short notice. Having Heidelberg accredited manufacturing in Melbourne gives total peace of mind to our customers.”

    Focus on R&D

    While the current focus is on new entrant RotaDyne with the market watching what impact the US player will have, German consumables giant, Böttcher, is also seeking to grow its market share through innovation and ongoing R&D.

    A family-owned business founded in 1725, Böttcher has a global footprint and a history of partnering with many of the world’s press manufacturers to develop roller technology. The company devotes around 6 per cent of its total sales to research and development.

    “We have a long tradition of investing in R&D,” says managing director, Mitchell Mulligan, Böttcher Australia. He reveals the company employs approximately 180 R&D/Quality Control personnel who are involved with all aspects of product development and polymer engineering.

    “We test in excess of 3,000 new compound formulas annually in a bid to solve complex issues faced by the rapid changes in press speeds, chemistry and dynamics. Our commitment to R&D adds value to our customers and provides stable and dependable processes.”

    He continues: “As a company we are still in a growth phase due to the development of innovations we offer the market and the breadth of our product portfolio, which is constantly being expanded to service many market segments both within and outside the printing industry. As it stands today, we can see no limits to the opportunities we have in front of our group of companies and will continue to work hard to deliver value to our customers by listening to what they need and developing the right solutions.”

    Böttcher services a pool of 80,000 customers globally and works collaboratively with its customers and partners, says Mulligan.

    “Our mantra is to deliver lower operating costs through the appropriate use of technology and the reduction in consumption of raw materials. Our products are engineered for longer life, superior performance, longer service intervals and dependable productivity.

    “Such attributes strengthen our position as a valued long term partner,” he concludes.

    In Australia, the customer pool is getting smaller and while servicing the local market with locally manufactured products makes perfect sense from a number of perspectives – greater quality assurance and accountability, local service and support, quick response times and ease of delivery – is the entry of another major supplier into the segment overkill?

    As to the question of competition Terry Brissett says, “RotaDyne, Böttcher and ourselves are the biggest players. Someone will have to amalgamate as it is not efficient, it doesn’t make sense from a profit or a commonsense point of view.”

    Watch this space.