In 1983, Atikur Rahaman, the sole proprietor of A R Enterprise, began his journey in the art of painting. Rahaman made hand-painted advertising sign boards, glow signs, display boards for a variety of industries.
“Since, in those days there was no digital technology, I had to do all these jobs with my hand. I used to do large size wall painting for the advertising requirements of big companies. At that time, the business was under the name of Royal Art Centre,” says Atikur Rahaman during a phone interview. “I invested in a digital kit for the first time in 2007.”
A R Enterprise, which was established in 2005, has two production units, 7000 sq/ft and 9000 sq/ft respectively. The company has a four wide-format digital presses that range from a HP Latex, to a Roland, to a DGI, to a ColorJet. Besides they have the necessary arsenal for cutting, finishing, fabrication, storage, plus logistics facilities.
The company caters to 15 big corporate and MNCs, who are engaged in entertainment, electronics and home appliances, food and beverages, leading mobile companies, cigarette companies, amusement parks, et al.
It provides direct and indirect employment to 75 people. “Most of our people are with us since the inception of the company, and that is the kind of bond I have with my staff. That’s because I personally value the contribution of our ‘people’; we take care of them well since they take care of my company and my customers by sincerely fulfilling the duties assigned by us,” states Rahaman.
Screen in the time of digital print
PrintWeek India (PWI): You have a digital print set up, why screen print?
Atikur Rahaman (AR): First of all, we are not new to screen printing. We used to screen print cloth banners since 1992 albeit with a manual set up. Later, we purchased an exposing machine.
PWI: But why now?
AR: It was a necessity which arose out of the needs of our customers. As compared to digital, screen printing is cost effective for rigid substrates involving mass production such as sunpack and sunboard advertising display boards. For e.g. we print display boards/wall signs in different sizes up to 22-inch x 28-inch on a screen printing machine. However the same job can be printed on a flatbed digital press which is costlier by 20% instead of screen printing.
PWI: What about the production side?
AR: For example on a 22-inch x 28-inch screen printing machine we can directly print a job of that size or even less, say 1.5 x 1.5 feet. In case of flatbed printing such small jobs are not appropriate and we have to print bigger sheets of sunpack or sunboard and then cut. So, again it is extra work which adds further costs. Moreover, digitally printing on vinyl and pasting it on sunboard or sunpack is tedious work. So after all evaluation we opted for screen printing.
PWI: Why did you opt for automation?
AR: After visiting many printing exhibitions in Kolkata and New Delhi, we had the opportunity of watching a live demo of Grafica’s advanced screen printing machines. We got a glimpse of stunning graphics and halftone printing samples which were screen printed on rigid substrates. Back in the factory, we realised that the quality of our jobs done with manual screen printing was not up to the mark as compared to what we saw in the trade shows. Moreover, as compared to the speed of screen printing machines, the production was slow on manual kit, especially when you have to print bigger size halftone jobs. There used to be huge wastage of jobs due to rejections. So, we felt the need to adopt automation and invest in Grafica’s complete screen printing kit comprising Nano-Print Plus, Nano-UV, Nano-Sharpener and Nano-Screen Maker 5-in-1.
PWI: Manual to automation, any price issue?
AR: Initially, there was a price issue. As compared to the poor quality printed by manual screen printing, we had to charge little more for the superior quality printed on screen printing machine. So, initially there was some difficulty in convincing the customers as they were not ready to pay the more for ‘quality’ jobs. Now the problem is solved as our customers are convinced.
PWI: Support from the manufacturer?
AR: Since we had manual screen printing set up, I received guidance from Grafica with regard to automation and use of quality inks and chemicals.
PWI: How is the market?
AR: The market for digital printing is not growing much since the last few years. However, because of our strength and capabilities, our business is steady. Also, to keep pace with the changing times in outdoor advertising, we also offer LED signage. There is about 50% growth in our LED business with a good profit margin, whereas our digital printing business is steady.
PWI: What are your strengths?
AR: Our USP is that unlike other print solution providers, we offer complete turnkey solutions, right from printing (in some cases designing as well), cutting, finishing, fabrication, transport and installation at site, etc. And now that we have added screen printing as well, this enables us to offer superior quality. Although we are based in Kolkata, we have to execute our customers’ jobs that involve onsite installation of outdoor advertising in states such as West Bengal, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand states.
PWI: Three decades of signage experience ...
AR: Yes, we have three decades of experience in signage. This includes two decades of expertise in wide format digital printing in the arena of outdoor/indoor advertising. That is why most of our customers give us repeat orders regularly. Our trump card is: our ability to provide turnkey print solutions.