Bengaluru-based Vishwakala Printers were the big surprise at the PrintWeek India Awards on 25 August in Mumbai. They bagged the Catalogue Printer of the Year and Social Stationery Printer of the Year. One of the print samples they produced was the National Geographic calendar.
"The simple and eye-catching design; and the subtly reproduced colours, made the subject on each sheet of the calendar more exquisite," said a judge. The company confirmed its place at the top of the stationery pile with the stunning Tanishq calendar, which used aqueous coating and punching.
Vishwakala employed the Apogee-X workflow to power the Heidelberg XL 75 four-colour with an inline coater to produce the samples.
Vishwakala is a commercial printing press that has climbed up the ladder of repute since its beginning in 1984. The genteel Vishwanath Babu, the managing partner, along with his mother began this firm as a partnership and has successfully managed to pave the path towards progress through interesting, quality work as the head of Vishwakala and given his all along the way.
"We began with a single letterpress 27 years ago," said Babu. The firm had modest beginnings, as all things meant to grow begin. Vishwakala Printers began in a dilapidated car garage. The other machine they owned was a hand-cutting machine. "All of this started with an investment of Rs. 45,000," he added. Babu took his initial training from Bengaluru-based Geethanjali Printers and continued as a letterpress firm.
In 1994, Babu decided to expand his letterpress unit, which was equipped with two treadle presses and one Grapho machine, after looking back at his business of the past decade. He purchased a single colour Dominant. It was four years later, in 1998, that Babu also bought his first two- colour Heidelberg from New Zealand. As the business grew, and the firm acquired more clients, he decided to install an SM 74 used machine in 2005. The next year he invested in an Agfa Avalon CTP platesetter.
"We sold the the SM 74 in 2008 and bought an XL 75-4+L (with coater)," said Babu.
According to Babu, "The Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75-4+L is most useful to achieve great quality with ease and to produce consistent printed products. The machine is equipped with fully automatic features like the preset feeder and preset delivery and can handle stocks from 0.03mm to 0.08 mm."
He added that the machine, which was equipped with complete air transfers, made life much easier for the printer.
It was in the same year that Babu also invested in a Polar cutting machine, and two years later, he decided to make another major investment. He bought for Vishwakala, the Kodak Trendsetter. Only a couple of weeks ago, they installed a Hohner machine – four-head pinning machine with loop pinning option. "This was a machine we saw at a recent expo in Bengaluru, and decided to invest in," he said.
The result of his decisions since the time of Vishwakala’s inception is a successful commercial printing press that has made its mark both locally and nationally, and is known for its high-quality work that can be recognised in an instant. "Vishwakala is now very sought-after company. We are the answers for a print buyer who seeks impeccable printing. Plus they would like their print firm to work closely with them, and hope hope to see a high degree of versatility and customisation in the execution of jobs across a spectrum of different materials," said Babu.
As of now the press is spread over 14,000 sq/ft of space in Bengaluru’s Mahalakshmi Layout. A total of 50 persons are part of the Vishwakala family. Babu says that his staff is the biggest secret behind his success. "They are Vishwakala’s real strength, and have understood my mind and expectations well, for which reason we have always had healthy growth."
Close to 50% of Vishwakala’s revenue is from commercial printing, and Babu sees great potential in the sector, and considering Vishwakala’s favourable position in the market, he thinks press needs to continue working as hard as it does in order to reach higher. Their major clients are jewellery companies like Tanishq for whom they have done significant amount of work in terms of brochures, calendars, coffee-table books and high-end art paper printing. Other clients are real estate agencies who require material that specifically showcases their work.
Their facilities in totality thus include designing, plate making with Agfa thermal platesetter along with Kodak Trendsetter, which is connected online, pre-press unit equipped with GMG colour management server, Polar 92 X cutting machine, automatic preset folding machine, Hohner wire-stitching machine, a perfect binding machine, offline UV coating machine, lamination machine both cold and thermal, along with a host of smaller binding machines.
So what is the path that Vishwakala hopes to pave over the next year? "There are a few things in post-press that we would like to start doing. Case-making and section-sewing are outsourced right now, and we want to be able to begin doing that in-house, " said Babu. Apart from that, they would like to continue maintaining their consistency and quality.
"Our USP is that that we are not afraid to quote a price, but at that same time we would never compromise on quality," Babu stated. "We take inputs from out customers, and implement and execute these inputs to as much perfection as possible," he added. Along with timely service and maximum efficiency (minimum screen rolling of 210) they’re able to churn out cost-effective jobs.
"This is why we have almost never lost any of our clients, and most of our work is through a majority of repeat clients over years and years," he added.
Ajith Kumar, the regional sales manager, Heidelberg India, says, "Vishwakala takes our suggestions on matters of sale and service and it values our relationship in terms of business. We have seen that they turn out only quality and it is easily achieved with our standardisation process implemented."
This is what propelled Vishwakala to create Award winning catalogue jobs for leading brands like Enamor Transform and Tanishq.
Babu and the Vishwakala unit in Bengaluru
Babu and Anil Kumar Bijjhali with the two PrintWeek India "Prisms"