Print Hub-NOIDA

Indian printing industry has surely come of age. We have improved manifolds in every aspect, be it technology or skills. And this progression has been witnessed pan India. There are certain regions in India, which have been emerging as prospering printing hubs and one of these is NOIDA. To discover the potential that NOIDA holds for printing world, Smita Dwivedi met a few reputed printers in Noida to know more about them and their viewpoints. NOIDA, constituted under the UP Industrial Area Development Act, 1976, has now emerged as a planned, integrated, modern industrial city, well connected to Delhi through a network of roads, national highways and the ultra-modern Delhi Metro and DND flyway, offering inter-road linkages to all parts of the country. Spread over 20,316 hectares, with many sectors fully developed, NOIDA offers a pollution free high standard of living and highly supportive industrial environment with its unique infrastructure providing numerous, matchless facilities. It also offers a lot of affordable residential options. No wonder than that many printing presses have shifted their base from Delhi to Noida. The rising real estate prices in Delhi and scarcity of space were the major factors responsible for their shift. A printing press needs huge space for storage, machinery and other operations and Noida, which is closely connected to Delhi, provide a perfect infrastructure. A few such printers who shifted from Delhi to Noida include RP Printers, Cirrus Graphics, Tara Art Press and Rakesh Press. While, printers like Impress Offset started their operations from Noida itself. All these printers now have substantial printing facilities with horizontal/vertical space available for expansion or diversification and most of them are actually eyeing diversification in near future. Another major similarity we find is that all these printers have treated their staff as their family and are proud to share that the employee attrition rate is negligible. Besides, they have picked up most of them as laymen and trained them on the job. But, printing industry has its own challenges – lower print runs, high input costs, lower profit margins and increasing competition. Nevertheless, these printers are continuing their progression despite all odds, maybe step by step. Here’s more about these printers:

It’s not just ink on paper…we print success!

-says Nitin Gupta, director, RP Printers

Nitin GuptaWith over 35 years of existence, RP Printers has earned a reputation for themselves in printing industry as a mark of excellence. Recognised as a leader in the quality books and commercial print industry, they have all the resources necessary to satisfy any printing or design needs. Being a second generation professional in the printing industry, Nitin was already accustomed to printing. He joined the family business in 1998 and since then, there has been a smooth sailing for them.

Facility in Noida…

“We shifted to Noida in the year 2005. Our reasons to shift that time was low land prices in Noida and also there was sealing drive in Delhi, which created a panic. However, working in Noida is not that comfortable, there’s still lot of improvement needed in every aspect to have smooth functioning,” opined Nitin.

Leader in book printing…

RP Printers are mainly into educational book printing, and 90 percent of their work is book printing while 10 percent accounts for different commercial jobs. With a capacity to print 1,000 reams daily, they are always loaded with new printing jobs round the year. So how it feels to enjoy such a successful position in printing, to which he added, “We are in the business of printing. However, we feel that our company produces something larger than ink on paper. Our company produces success. We take pride in the fact that the products we create help our clients make their business more successful. We make every effort to be successful and recognize that we can accomplish this only if we can help others to be successful.”

“For instance we handled a job, which was really challenging, to produce 50 lakhs books in a month and we feel elated that we completed that job in time without any crisis. Though we worked 24 hours a day in shifts,” told Nitin proudly.

Installed capacity…

Being one of the key printers for government’s ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’ initiative, they have installed best machines and have a one-stop facility for all printing needs – from CtP to state-of-the-art fully automatic, multi-colour high speed presses to efficient post press equipments.

Managing relationships…

In print industry, the most important relationships are with clients and employees; they both have their own roles in the success story of any printer. On asking about clients, Nitin added, “Most of our customers are repeat customers and have been associated with us for over 15 years. It’s a service industry; the only way you can keep your clients happy is by meeting their needs and requirements. We do keep reasonable profits and deliver best quality.”

On asking about the employees strength and special measures to keep them motivated, he replied, “We have 300 employees and we treat them as family. They come to us as laymen and we transform them into experts over the years. Moreover, we always treat them well in terms of remunerations and other facilities as compared to market trends. So, they remain associated with us.”

Our company produces something larger than ink on paper. Our company produces success. We take pride in the fact that the products we create help our clients make their business more successful. Paper consumption and clients…

On asking about paper consumption for book production, he added, “We consume 20 tonnes of paper daily and half of which is supplied by our customers, which include educational publishers, magazine publishers and corporates. The major publishers include Rachna Sagar and Orient Black Swan. They also print reputed magazines like Digital Learning, Food & Night Life and Realty Life.

Challenges faced…

“One of the biggest challenges is to meet clients’ expectations as they want best output in less time and least pricing. I feel printing business in India is no longer a profitable venture,” he said.

On a concluding note…

“We have a lot of diversifying plans, but other than printing, which might include resorts or hotel business,” concluded Nitin.

“Customer satisfaction is our prime motive”

-says Amit Tara of Tara Art Printers

Amit TaraTara Art Printers Pvt Ltd is recognised for their quality jobs and timely delivery. Customer satisfaction is their prime motive. They have a flat organisation structure to make it easier for the customers to interact. Professionally qualified, Amit Tara, director - marketing of Tara Art Printers Pvt Ltd is a graduate in publishing, followed by DPL (Tech) from London and GDM, MBA (International) from Sydney, Australia. “Print has always fascinated me. Even though my father Late SN Tara, was hesitant of my joining the family business, but I was always sure that this is exactly what I want to adopt,” he recalled.

Facility in Noida…

“We shifted in 1982. For us, it was really challenging due to entry tax and other government regulations required for compliance to run a unit here,” told Amit.

On magazine printing…

Interestingly, Tara Art Printers specialises in magazine printing… handling as many as 50 different magazines in their facility at Noida. The topics range from Ayurveda to CA, real estate, hair salon, fashion, beauty, IT, interiors, communications, defence, TV, golf, medical, apparel, wellness, lifestyles, banquets and convention centres, finance, jewellery…to name a few.

On asking about the diminishing print runs of the magazines, Amit replied that yes the print runs have come down. “For example, the magazines which earlier used to get 12,000 copies printed have now cut down to 9,000 copies. Not only this, the number of pages have also started decreasing. Perhaps this is because the advertisers’ spending has gone down, forcing publishers to curb their budgets,” he replied.

So, has the shrinking print runs affected the turnover at Tara Art Printers Pvt Ltd? “No! There is lot of scope in the industry. In fact, we have experienced a 16 percent growth year on year. Our USP is our quality – especially in the magazine segment where colour matching of advertisements is of prime importance,” quickly replied Amit.

The next generation in the industry makes a lot of difference and technical education really helps. Press owners should carefully look at the non value-added activities and try to minimize them. Installed capacity…

In 1967, they started in a 300 sq ft space in New Delhi with a platen press, followed by another unit in Nehru Place to cater to public sector companies. After 13 odd years, they installed an offset machine in Noida. The impetus came from good-quality second-hand machines. Seeing the demand for good quality printing, they purchased a large format offset machine from US in 2004. And in 2007, they installed a German 4-colour machine, followed by CtP, 3-knife trimmer and 6-clamp perfect binding machine. In 2011, they installed a brand new set of offset, folding, sewing and saddle stitcher equipments.

The thirst for technology does not end here; Amit has again planned another technological upgradation. “I have planned a major investment in another printing machine and three finishing solutions to go with it,” he told. On asking about his plans to go for a digital machines, Amit replied that technology compels you, it does not give a choice. So, digital would be an option for very short-run jobs and proofing purposes but he is still trying to understand the ROI on the same.

On a concluding note…

Talking about the status of the Indian printing industry, Amit said that the next generation in the industry makes a lot of difference and technical education really helps. He also stressed that press owners should carefully look at the non value-added activities and try to minimize them. “One should look at a micro level and device solutions accordingly as this will go a long way in reducing the input costs, thereby making business more profitable in the long run,” he added.

“Our quality work speaks for itself”

-says Pranav Bagai of Rakesh Press

Pranav BagaiThe multi-award winning Rakesh Press is known for its state-of-the-art technology and up-to-date technical know-how. Established in 1950, they are continually investing in the latest technologies and constantly evolving printing trends. The press is armed to seamlessly handle all printing requirements from conceptualization to delivery. Pranav Bagai, director, Rakesh Press is young but with vision to be nothing less than the best and he is taking all the initiatives and implementing new age corporate success mantra to lead the way to success.

Facility in Noida…

“We shifted to Noida in 2012. Our old unit in Naraina was half the size and badly planned. As and when we added another machine, we would make space for it. Production efficiency was very low due to the constrained space. The last two years have been the most difficult years for Rakesh press in its 64 years of existence. Though, we lost many walk-in clients and expenses have soared through the roof, but we are coming out of this problem - stronger than ever before. We have developed new teams for focused marketing. We know that the quality of Rakesh Press is superior to most other printers and are using this trump card to get more business. Also, we are toying with the idea of setting up sales offices in different cities to increase our business even further,” told Pranav optimistically.

Thanking Genes!

Established under the watchful eyes of Ramnath Bagai, Rakesh Press was named after his son – Rakesh and over the years, the father-and-son team converted the family-run business into a highly professional organization, with the focus on latest technology, quality printing and seamless services for complete customer satisfaction. And today, the third generation in the business is Pranav Bagai, who while conveying his gratitude to his father added, “He is the backbone of the company. All this wouldn’t have happened without him. Stic on is completely his baby. His technical knowledge and total commitment to quality has kept Rakesh press ahead of others in our field. He single handedly took the plunge and built our new expansive unit in Noida that has laid the foundations for Rakesh Press to move to the next level. His ability to maintain great relations with clients and the staff has taught me a lot. Also I have learnt how to face problems and deal with them efficiently. He is super well respected in the printing industry in india and I am very very fortunate to have a progressive thinking father who has allowed me to experiment with new things in the printing industry.”

Why printing?

Pranav, a thoroughly qualified professional is doing exceptionally well in his other business ventures, well beyond printing. So, it was an obvious question to know the reason for joining printing industry, at the time, when it is looking little skeptical. To which he replied, with affirmation, “It was my conscious decision to join Rakesh Press. For last two years, I am completely involved in all the activities be it…marketing or production. I have grown up in this printing world, so it was an obvious and easy progression for me. Moreover, my other businesses are doing well and one can manage multiple activities well.”

Delivering excellence…

With offset printing as core, the company has a good installation base, including latest machinery like various 4 and 5-colour offset presses with online coating. They also offer a range of post press techniques like holographic lamination, 3D effects, various UV coatings, 3D embossing micro foiling and screen-printing. Pranav says that they have the best technology, machinery and skills to deliver matchless output. “Our state-of-the-art facility helps us to handle all printing requirements with ease. Our work speaks for us. Be it the flawlessness of simplicity or the beauty in complexity; Rakesh Press plays with printing techniques to best suit any product. Our services range from innovative merchandizing and packaging, to niche magazines and corporate brochures, to paperback and hardcover books, and uniquely printed calendars and invitations,” he added.

Apart from keeping up with cutting edge technology, the company’s crew is well trained with an ideal balance of specialists and experts; guaranteeing not just services but its smooth execution as well. On Stic On…

Stic On note pads, the omnipresent and universally recognised small pieces of paper found everywhere in offices and homes, on computer screens, diaries, books, files, desks, walls, refrigerators, doors, laptops is their sister concern. “These are not just meant to remind us of any particular event or task but much more than that. When it comes to sticky notes, Stic On is a one stop solution for all note pad needs. One can choose from a wide variety of products including printed note pads, printed pads with soft cover, combi gift packs, pop-up note pads, hard cover note pads, die-cut note pads, side printed cubes, magic cubes, etc. Our entire product range is designed to deliver a professional writing experience during work,” he informed.

Relations’ harmony…

Apart from keeping up with cutting edge technology, the company’s crew is well trained with an ideal balance of specialists and experts; guaranteeing not just services but its smooth execution as well. “With a range of services from pre-press to post-press, we ensure excellence at every step on the way,” he said.

On asking about the relationship of management with work force, he shared, “We have over 100 employees here. They all are hardworking and committed professionals. We treat them as family and support them in every possible way. The printing job sometimes gets really tough as they need to meet daily deadlines, handle breakdowns and correct technical errors. So, we have taken an initiative to organize daily Yoga sessions for our senior management, which brings in the refreshing energy.”

Talking about the clients, Pranav said, “Our product is matchless and we are really transparent with our clients. They know that we give them the best price with best quality. Moreover, we have been into this business for over 65 years and have a set of very old clients as well. I feel my father - Rakesh Bagai - has maintained really wonderful relationships with most of the clients, so today we have mutual regards for each other.”

Challenges faced…

“The biggest challenge is to look out for profitable printing options, which perhaps is possible with innovative printing in short-run projects like wedding cards, premium coffee table books, etc. All these jobs have better profit margins and we see a good future for them,” he told.

On a concluding note…

“If you are thinking to take initiatives…start now. It’s the time when we need to deliver differently, so focus on print majorly,” concluded Pranav.

“We provide best quality, best prices and best service.”

-say Raj Gupta & Udesh Kumar of Cirrus Graphics

Udesh and Raj on holidays in Switzerland.Cirrus Graphics, co-founded by printing technologists Raj Gupta and Udesh Kumar in 1997, starting as a high class pre-press house, but upgraded into a full scale commercial printing press. Today, it is housed in state-of-the-art printing and paper conversion facilities at Naraina, Manesar and Noida. The Noida facility alone is spread over an area of 55,000 sq ft and houses complete processes and technologies to compete with the best printers in the world.

Facility in Noida…

“We started our operation in Noida in the year 2011. We required more space and bigger setup for future expansion plans. So, it is the best deal that we got within our budgets. We also chose Noida, because of its location as it is well placed to central Delhi and moreover it is an industrial area as well,” told Udesh as a matter of fact.

Bringing out best…always

High customer-orientation defines Cirrus approach to every job it undertakes. Cirrus has modern equipments for all operations, backed by passion for quality printing, design, packaging with a deep understanding of technology and hands-on work experience at the shop floor level. “We had a humble beginning, but today we are one of the leaders in magazine printing. It’s been a great journey, so far. We have seen the best times in printing. I joined printing field in 1988 and in last 25 years we earned a great reputation for ourselves,” said Udesh.

Realising potential in paper conversion, they started a new stationery unit as well, which is headed by Raj. “The Manesar and Noida facility houses complete processes and technologies for paper conversion that allows them to convert all varieties of paper rolls into specific office, school and premium stationery products,” added Raj.

Installed capacity…

Cirrus Graphics is producing books, magazines, folders, leaflets, calendars, pocket folders, visual aids and labels. They have a well-equipped facility, housing single-colour, 2-colour and 4-colour presses for various printing needs. They also have a digital printing set up with Konica Minolta LD6501 Digital press and Renz office binding solution. For paper conversion, they have installed automatic note book machine; high speed ruling machine; automatic counting and folding machine; taping machine; central thread sewing & folding machines, etc.

Business trends…

“We print a lot of magazines and the trend which has affected us the most is decrease in print runs of many established magazines. There is a magazine for which we used to produce 1,25,000 copies and today it has decreased to just 5,000 copies. Perhaps, due to online media and smart phones, it is going to decrease further,” added Udesh.

“Besides, we are seeing steady fall in commercial printing. Only segment, which is showing little positivity, is packaging and label printing. Educational publishers generally pay twice a year only, so we are not very keen on book printing jobs,” he further added.

We are seeing steady fall in commercial printing. Only segment, which is showing little positivity, is packaging and label printing. Paper consumption and clients…

The company is the approved vendor of BILT and JK, and converts paper in excess of 450 tonnes per month for meeting their requirements of stationery products and in commercial printing they consume around 50 tonnes of paper. Sharing their elite clientele, Raj added, “We have many big players like The Times of India, Durga Das Publications, Afaqs, The Indian Express, BILT, Akash Tutorial, Chitra Prakashan, etc. We also have a few advertising agencies as our clients.”

Challenges faced…

“The cost of labour has increased manifold. Besides increased cost, there is lack of skilled labour as well. The rate of electricity, consumable and others have increased so much and we have to bear that. We are struggling for our existence right now. Hope things will get better soon,” shared Raj.

While dealing with various clients, one thing which is a cause of concern for them is to deal with ‘Printing Illiterate’ people. “Sometimes, when we need to explain a lot about printing requirements and cost, it becomes really cumbersome. Moreover, the printing budgets have reduced beyond our imaginations. So, it is really challenging to deliver in stringent budgets,” he added.

Adding more to this, Udesh added, “I feel that today, there is a fear amongst the printers, when they quote. They feel shy to ask for better rate, even if client has a budget for it.”

“Another difficult situation is to match clients’ erratic time line; they want us to finish job in supersonic speed. Like one of our clients has 15 days time frame for magazine’s next issue but takes 13-14 days for creative designing and wants us to finish the printing in just one or two days,” added Udesh.

Our team…

Cirrus boasts of an excellent workforce of highly motivated people trained in-house and adept at handling state-of-the-art equipment. The present staff strength is over 120 people. “We are proud of the fact that people stay with us, there are many people who are there with us since the time we started our business. They all are like family to us and we always listen to their issues and concerns favourably,” shared Udesh.

On a concluding note…

“The company has already acquired one acre of land for future expansions and we are planning to diversify into packaging sector,” concluded Udesh and Raj.

‘Quality is the soul of print jobs’

-says Sidharth Prakash, technical partner, Impress Offset and general secretary – Noida Offset Printer’s Association and GC member of All India Federation of Master Printers.

Sidharth PrakashEstablished in 1984 with a single colour Heidelberg sheet-fed offset printing machine, Impress Offset in NOIDA, has come a long way. It was a brainchild of Sidharth, who did his graduation from Delhi University in 1983, and a Diploma in Print Technology from the London College of Printing in the year 1984.

Facility in Noida…

“We started from Noida itself. And at that time, this place was within our budget, Delhi was too expensive for us,” told Sidharth.

Quality control is prime…

Being a qualified print professional himself, Sidharth feels that quality is the soul of any printing job and it has to be given due importance. Impress Offset gives special emphasis to proper maintenance of machine equipment to achieve high quality print production. “We are particular about our machine maintenance and training of the operators to ensure quality. We have in-house hands-on training programmes for our labour as well. Our technical staff work is made to work under the expert guidance,” he said.

Besides, they have regular interaction with machine operators to innovate the quality control (QC) system in operations. “We have two qualified professionals who also service the customers involved in QC training and assessments; who remain updated about the quality requirement of the customers,” he said.

And this quality control is maintained for outsourced print jobs as well. “We are in a position to use the facilities and infrastructure of a few other printers on a regular basis. Since these units are located near to our premises, we are able to supervise and ensure quality,” he added further.

Installed capacity…

“We mainly cater to educational institutions or publishers of children’s books. Educational books have on an average 80 pages with 20,000 print run. We have in-house installed capacity of 1,80,000 impressions in 2-colour in large format and 90,000 impressions in 4-colour. We have outsourcing arrangements of similar capacity in double colour and twice this capacity in 4-colour with our associates, who use their machinery on a regular basis for our jobs, and the quality checks have been set in place by us,” shared Sidharth.

Strategically built in a two-floor set-up, one floor is allocated to printing machinery and plate making while the other is for binding and work in process, assuring convenient floor layout and easy accessibility to all departments. They also have fully equipped set up to take care of all post press activities, which is completely in-house, equipped with automatic folding machines, single clamp and multi clamp perfect binders, as well as section sewing, stitching, nipping and bundling equipment.

We look after the quality, deliver on time, do not make false commitments, co-ordinate with customer if the schedules are unlikely to be met as planned (due to any reason), and suggest innovationsin the product. Paper consumption and clients…

Impress Offset consumes about 3,500 reams of paper in a month (80 percent maplitho and 20 percent coated) to produce quality educational paperbound books. And over the years of existence, they have worked for a number of customers with different and specialized printing needs, which include - government agencies like Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; diary manufacturers; publishers; packaging companies; corporate for POP requirements; educational institutions, etc.

Success mantras…

On asking about special measures they take to manage sales and after sales relationships with clients, he explained, “We look after the quality, deliver on time, do not make false commitments, co-ordinate with customer if the schedules are unlikely to be met as planned (due to any reason), suggest innovations in the product…and we are always available for discussions when required.”

Retaining employees is equally important as retaining clients, so we enquired about employee strength and how they keep them motivated and he shared, “We have a total of 30 employees. We have regular coordination with them and we give quick response to their problems. Leaves are generally not denied, 80 percent of them have been trained by us, as they had no clue about printing before they came to us as trainees. They are aware that they will be trained further and enhance their potential with us. So, we have a good score on employee retention.”

Challenges faced…

“There’s not just one challenge, we are facing many. Lack of good machine operators, low rates for printing and unreasonable expectations by customers for the price offered by them, are most prominent challenges faced by the printers. And to overcome this, we have our in house training programme for employees, we frequently share our cost structure with customers, we do not take jobs in which we have no comparative advantage,” conveyed Siddharth.

On a concluding note…

“We plan to do hard bound books by expanding our post press operations, and get into export,” he told. As an appeal to all print buyers, Sidharth said, “See the printer as your partner in progress, rather than a vendor who must continuously innovate to give you lower rates. Quality is important and it comes at a price.”

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