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Vistaprint opens doors for manroland users conference

Friday, 24 August 2012
By Patrick Howard

Steve Dunwell’s customer club gets a rare chance to tour the highly automated web-to-print company’s Melbourne site to see how the successful global enterprise fulfills its business plan.

The visit proved a highlight of the annual conference for the users of both manroland web systems and manroland sheetfed presses.  Vistaprint operates a Roland 700 DirectDrive press, one of a number in multiple sites around the world.

The tour proved to be a major talking point at the annual customer club dinner at Albert Park on Wednesday night. Although the general consensus agreed that Vistaprint is more of a logistics company than a printer there were many aspects of its well-oiled workflow system that greatly impressed both commercial and web print professionals.

The well-attended 3rd annual conference highlighted again the spread of the manroland installed base in Australia and New Zealand. Owners, CEOs and senior managers of a diverse range of companies were there, from small commercial printers to large packaging enterprises through to the likes of Webstar – even Richard Allely, Managing Director  of PMP made an appearance – joking about the delivery date of his new manroland 96-page heatset web press for WA.

They came to hear from Dunwell (pictured right with Tom Lusch, owner of award-winning Queensland printer, Platypus Graphics, who is a long-term manroland user) who spoke about the progress of the revived companies, the present state of play in Germany and the prospects for the future. At the keynote presentation the following morning he earnestly conveyed his belief in the renewed vitality and sound prospects of the German press manufacturers following their emergence from financial administration last year.

“I do believe we are in better shape than any others in the industry. We are now right sized for the market, with no debt and two owners who have a very successful track record in owning and operating companies,” he said.

He detailed the structure of trust-based L. Possehl & Co, the owner of manroland websystems, assuring the web printers that the company was increasing its involvement with the company, buying the factory buildings in Augsburg and committing to the future development of the business. He was obviously very impressed by Tony Langley, chief of UK-based Langley Holdings, who bought the sheetfed business, describing him in glowing terms as the most impressive CEO he had ever met. The message was clear; manroland is back and here to stay.

It was reinforced by a line-up of speakers during the conference that included well-known industry identity, Tony Kenney, who not only gave his views on the market trends of drupa but also took the printers on a tour of the 700 direct drive technology. Partners such as Safwen Hijazi, Xingraphics VP who gave an over view of thermal plate technology, complemented the line-up of manroland presenters throughout the day.

Dennis Geelen, a Belgium-based environmental advisor brought to Australia by Steve Dunwell, was key in the value-add nature of the presentations. He gave a detailed explanation of the Federal Government’s Clean Technology Investment Program, explaining how printing companies could win funding for any number of carbon reduction initiatives from moving presses to changing the kind of lights in the factory.

The $800 million initiative is a competitive, merit-based grants program to support Australian manufacturers to maintain competitiveness in a carbon-constrained economy. This program will provide grants for investments in energy efficient capital equipment and low emission technologies, processes and products.

Geelen is in Australia to consult with manroland customers about their eligibility for the program. Members of the Customer Club were encouraged to move quickly to register for grants based on their carbon footprint savings, which are still quite applicable for mid-sized printing companies.

“Now is the time to get in while the program is still relatively unknown. As more businesses become aware of it the benchmark [of carbon savings] will be raised,” said Steve Dunwell.


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