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Galaxy: Willing to go beyond the print straitjacket

22 September 2014

One of the rising stars in the world of packaging, New Delhi-based Galaxy Offset, hopes to notch a three-digit turnover in two years. Rahul Kumar finds out how these entrepreneurs will achieve it

galaxyfamily Standing (l-r): Brothers Vikas, Amit and Aman with father (sitting), Satish Gulati
Even as we drive past silent factories and a slowdown in Manesar, the Gulati brothers have decided that pessimism won’t do. It’s a long road ahead.
 
It would not be true to say that Galaxy, which was located in Naraina has never faced a crisis as serious. For the three brothers, Aman Gulati, Amit Gulati, and Vikas Gulati, in less than eight years, have had to cope with the changes in the print industry, plus the expansion of their team from 45 to 250 members, the struggle to create a modern plant, and most recently, to sustain a solid double digit growth rate.
 
To boost growth, the Gulati brothers commissioned a 70,000 sq/ft packaging plant in the first quarter of 2013. For this, Galaxy invested a sum of Rs 40-crore. The Delhi-based print firm, with two factories, has installed a raft of Heidelberg, Bobst, Esko, and Yii Lee to boost its packaging capability and impress clients position for growth.
 
The family printer, with operations in Manesar and Naraina, picked up a new kit in order to ensure “speed to market and guarantee that we can meet the tightest of deadlines while keeping the quality we need,” says Aman Gulati.
 
Amit Gulati says, the investments are driven by increased sales, opportunities to get deeper into the market and the need to stay on top of technological change.
 
He adds, this is just the beginning, and Galaxy will have to opt for “investments every two years to stay on top.”

 
Packaging planet
Over a lazy lunch, we learn that Galaxy Offset is a family-owned business run by the three brothers and their father Satish Gulati. Aman is responsible for purchase and finance, Amit is responsible for sales, whereas Vikas looks after the production.
 
Aman rewinds and highlights the journey from a commercial printer to a packaging printer, “It is an entirely new field for us,” he says. “We are on a learning curve. We were doing packaging jobs in our commercial facility for the last three years. The demand for packaging jobs surged up leading us to plan a new plant dedicated only to packaging.”
 
Vikas Gulati who oversees the production at Galaxy is very proud about a Golden Shield print job which has a metallic look on a wooden cask. He says, “We have learnt to create such jobs and find the line between price, production, speed and quality just right with the major benefits of gloss UV.” The key, he feels, is to offer foil stamping, embossing, laminating, UV, texture UV and texturing to add visual and tactical features to print.
 
Amit adds, “Packaging printing market has endless possibilities. But it is a very competitive market. Everything is calculated and most of the print buyers are well qualified and educated. Margins are not high as it seemed. You have to have the entire production line under one roof and no dependency on others and it is one of the mantras needed to survive.”

Galaxy’s customer portfolio include liquor, cosmetics, spices and FMCG. Satish Gulati says, “Our customers are ready to understand the technology and applications we possess but are not ready to pay a premium. Some printers are in an economy-free zone but in such cases, our service and quality makes a win-win situation for us.”
 
Today, the Gulati brothers are eyeing a three digit turnover. “We are establishing ourselves as a complete solution provider, Separate plants for commercial printing and packaging means clear focus on each segment so as to enable us to provide best of the services and quality to all our customers,” is the chorus by the Gulati brothers.
 
Apart from the packaging board factory, Galaxy has a corrugation plant (15,000 sq/ft area) where it converts 150 tonnes of kraft paper to manufacture E-fluted cartons. The total consumption of paper and paper board is around 750 tonnes per month. The Gulati brothers agree that this is under-ambitious; and the numbers will need to be more than 1,500 tonnes for them to be “a serious long term contender.”

 
Commitment to books and brochures
While the Manesar plant is tapping into the potential of packaging, top quality books and brochures continue to be produced at Galaxy Offset’s Naraina facility in New Delhi.
 
There is so much to be done. And the scientists (after all, print is a science) at Galaxy, have perfected how best they can meet the print needs of their customers. Their mantra is: exceed print production. Vikas Gulati says, “The possibilities are so much greater than simply meeting the expectations of a customer. Today, a good printing press and a good printing brain offers inexhaustible print applications.”
 
And this is the extraordinary thing about the production team. The willingness to go beyond the accepted “straitjacket of print”.
 
One thing they have decided on: The clients and buyers need educating to the benefits of print. As Amit says, “Most equate print with transfer of ink on paper and nothing else, they are blinded to the fact that value additions like gloss UV, drip-off and printing on poly carbonate are possible on an offset press.”
 
A point in case is a 700 copies of the 156-page hardcase book and casing with aqueous coating; matt lamination and spot UV on the cover. A complex job which was turned around on the Heidelberg SM 74, SL within 24 hours. 
 
Likewise, there is 5,000 copies of a perfect bound 96-page book printed on 100 gsm matt art paper on a Ryobi 924. The highlight, as Vikas Gulati says, “is the dark illustrations with heavy shades printed without an IR dryer. Metallic cover has been added for the overall charm.”
And it’s this little tech tweaks that Team Galaxy enables like print depth in spite of heavy ink coverage or a silk screen abrasive texture that sets them apart.
 
“I feel that I am one of the luckiest fathers on the earth as my sons are creating and developing these kinds of print opportunities,” states Satish Gulati. 
 
We agree with the 80 year-old print veteran.


 

The Galaxy in-house calendar
 

    
 
The Galaxy calendar occupies pride of place along with print samples in the conference room. Aman Gulati says, “Print pessimism won’t do. We need a print revolution.”
 
Vikas Gulati demystifies of the inhouse calendar. He showcases the tech specs for the job, “The complete designing for this calendar was done in-house. Besides the standard Photoshop and Illustrator renditions, the team has worked arduously on creating textured and UV effects with the help of the Heidelberg Prinect.” A look at the monthly visuals indicate the images have been reproduced on the brand-new six-colour Heidelberg CD 102 LX UV.
 
Even to an untrained eye, it is clear that the Heidelberg has been sweated to produce at 240lpi on metalissed polyester pillar of light metallised polyester along with embossing, UV and wiro-bound to finish the job. 
 
Vikas Gulati says, “The combination is CMYK plus white/white and CMYK.” The month of August has been printed on Sappi’s Magno Card with metallised polyester white and texture and embossing. But it is the November and December months produced with a light metallised polyester which guarantees “the Buddha immersed in water” effect.

 

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