“Awards have boosted our quality”

Rahul Kumar and Supreeth Sudhakaran report on how the Delhi-based print specialist is launching phase three of its operations by expanding its plant – and sustaining a healthy CAGR of 20% in 2012-13

04 Jan 2013 | By Rahul Kumar & Supreeth Sudhakaran

Established in 2008
Locations Gurgaon and Delhi
Speciality Commercial, semi-commercial, books and wide format printing
Staff 20

Director of the digital commercial print specialist PrintExpressions, Sukhvinder Singh’s journey is of an enthusiastic and determined sales representative taking a leap of faith to become an entrepreneur. “I joined the graphic art industry as a sales representative for a paper trading company and later, moved to EIH press in the same capacity,” recollects Singh.
The experience at EIH helped him observe the industry keenly, and understand the print business. It was his conscious efforts and enthusiastic demeanour that prodded him to became a jack of all facets of the business such as sales, costing, purchasing and production.
“Being a paper salesman it was easy to understand the economics of the business. I used to keep myself abreast and engage in conversation with print business owners about the market and trends to watch out. This was critical for me to be aware of the trends and the realistic concerns attached with them as I was selling them a product (paper) which formed a major part in their raw material investments,” he adds.
Singh confesses that while dealing with printers, he tapped the eddies of inspiration – to become a print entrepreneur. However, it was the lack of capital and technical know-how that deterred him to launch his venture. “As they say, to earn a dollar, you need to first learn to save cents. Once the idea of becoming a printer started taking shape within my mind, I squeezed as much savings possible from my salary,” he shares.
In 2008, he finally jumped with both feet in the commercial printing industry with a Konica Minolta digital production press. PrintExpressions’ early days were spent as a digital retail commercial printing business enterprise. However, soon Singh realised that it was tough to sustain on crass price competition in the market by only targeting the walk-in customers. “With every digital printer in the industry slashing prices  where it put a big question mark over the long-term sustenance, I realised that printing sheets was not my cup of tea,” Singh says.
“Fortunately, we are no more in the price war segment since we switched to a niche market.” He adds, “Retail printing will notch huge fortunes if the digital press manufacturers would make a move to reduce the click charges. Once that is attained, and the day one does 2000 prints on digital on a break-even point, the volume will go up rapidly,” he adds.
When the price war got tougher, without short-changing his aspirations, Singh decided to rework on the business module of PrintExpressions and finally zeroed on creating an establishment that was not just limited to printing sheets digitally but also manufactured “total products” for corporates. Fortunately, the second life of PrintExpressions galloped on steady growth before Singh realised that it was time for expanding the business. That’s how the 5,000 sq/ft printing facility in Udyog Vihar came into being.
The manufacturing process didn’t warrant additional investments in the machinery; since  from day one, PrintExpressions had commissioned a complete finishing section along with a printing press. “When I look back, I realise it was a smart move,” beams Singh. He has every reason to do so since the gross sales of is firm have increased by 98.04%, in 2011-12, which among the highest for a print firm of this size.
Creative services
“Most of the time, there is a small window of time with printers to turnaround a job as printing is the last process in making a final product. Such situations often lead printers to outsource the different facets of the work to sub-contractors. However, more often than not, these sub-contractors repeatedly place your job way below their line of priorities. Thus, in the end your brand, as well as your customer suffers. These experiences made us initiate a creative wing of PrintExpressions,” Says Singh.
“Now, Gurdish Kaur Padam, our creative head, handles the entire creative services. Gurdish, who worked with a prominent creative agency, has brought our clients  closer to us. And so, we provide creative services.  We plan to expand our services to include other clients as well,” he explains.
Wide-format breathes life
The second phase of PrintExpressions lasted three years, before Singh decided to foray into wide-format digital printing. “Latex printing was making huge brouhaha and I realised that the trend of wall and vehicle wrapping was making a comeback. In 2011, we opted for a wide format printer from HP and added finishing machines that were equipped to serve this market,” recollects Singh.
The company has benefitted from this move. In a period of 12 months, print Expressions has done spectacular work that has earned him top clients such as Coca Cola, Vogue, Nestle, Rayban and several designing houses.
PrintExpressions is one of very few printers in the country, who are doing wall covering through printing materials. Both machine and media are provided by HP. The company has a HP Latex 25500, which can print up to 52 inches.
At a recent exhibition for the sign and digital industry, the HP Eco solutions Trained Printing Company, PrintExpressions had wrapped a blown-up size of Hummer SUV using HP’s Latex technology and Designjet L25500 printer. The company has also covered the walls of Vogue magazine’s office in Mumbai. Likewise a project for a multi-national client is progress in Delhi.

While the company has been constantly boosting its fleet of machines, Singh claims that merely adopting new technology is not the only path for growth. “Always think twice before fiddling; what with the economic stability of the business and the capital investment that need to be pumped in. We never order and commission machines which are out of our reach. After returning from Drupa 2012, I have seen a huge wave in the industry as everyone has been talking about investing in the latest technology that was showcased at the show. It is not that PrintExpressions does not want to invest in those technologies, but as a matter of business policy, we invest according to the needs and financial capacity of the company,” Singh explains.
PrintExpressions has focused on investment in equipment because its management team knew it could add new services and clients like Audi, Hyundai, BILT, Pepsi, and Nestle, among others. As a result, it recorded a robust gross sales increase of 402.23% in the year 2010-11. This plus a solid profit ratio (432.64%) earned it the PrintWeek India Small Printer of the Year Award in 2011.
“Awards have encouraged me because they value your efforts and provide a platform to create business and show your specialities. Our endeavour for excellence also won us accolades at the AIFMP NAEP Awards 2012 as a multi-colour inkjet printing and POS materials. Awards are not monetary gains but they boost up your morale, and esnure you take the quality benchmark a notch higher,” says Singh.
Phase 3 is underway
Singh is working on launching phase three of the operations by expanding its plant. PrintExpressions runs a single shift with 20 people, and is now planning to move towards a round-the-clock operation module within the next six months. The company, which had grossed a turnover of over Rs four crore in 2011, is expecting a healthy CAGR of 20% in 2012-13. In addition, the company is planning to get a FSC certification to attain high-end jobs.
Ajay Kang, director responsible care, DSM India, “We have been associated with PrintExpressions for a few years. I like their passion for quality and attitude towards client satisfaction. In fact our association started when I was working with Nestle and got strengthened with time.  Now at  DSM, we are particular about quality and some jobs come at the last moment. I appreciate the team effort by PrintExpressions – and how they perform. They have a professional team to take care of critical  jobs and they look for innovative ideas and solutions to stand out in the crowd. We at DSM strive for sustainability and we are happy to know that  Sukhvinder and his team are equally concerned about the environment and are HP Certified trained eco-solution print company. As our initiative towards the safe, clean and green environment, we are happy to use  PVC free wall paper in our office, which was installed by them.”

And as they say, happy words from a client are a true test.