20 centres across Karnataka and counting

Bengaluru-based Usha Digital wants to establish a digital print facility at every three km range in the Bengaluru city and one facility in key districts of the State.Towards this goal, the company invested in eight Ricoh ProC7500 presses from Monotech Systems. BH Srinivas of Usha shares his company’s vision with Rahul Kumar

24 Apr 2024 | By Rahul Kumar

BH Srinivas with at his digital printing center in Bengaluru

Based in Bengaluru, Usha Digital is planning to bring about a digital printing revolution in Karnataka. With 20 units across the state, the company aims to have a digital printing facility at every three kilometers in Bangalore city, and one or more printing facilities in major districts of the state.

To achieve this goal, Usha Digital has recently invested in eight Ricoh Pro printing presses at eight locations in Karnataka. These digital printing presses were supplied and installed by Monotech Systems, and all the machines are equipped with Fiery colour controller N-50A.

Why Ricoh?
BH Srinivas, the founder of Usha Group, shares, “We had plans to expand our digital printing operations and were on the lookout for a reliable machine. My children, Arpitha and Akshith, have recently joined the business, and we collectively decided that it was time to scale up. After considering several manufacturers, we chose Ricoh printing presses because of Monotech Systems’ prompt response.”

The company started with Xerox machines and has since tried various digital printing presses. According to Srinivas, there’s no difference among the different brands. “Promptness and value matter; value does not mean just money. One of the reasons we opted for Ricoh printing presses is that Ricoh upgraded the C7200 and launched the C7500.”

Usha Digital printed 11- to 12-lakh A3 colour sheets per month from its 12 printing facilities. After adding eight new machines, the company prints around 20 lakh A3 colour sheets per month. Of its 20 locations, 18 have digital printing set-ups, while the other two have pre-press through final product set-ups. 

In addition, the company has two complete offset units in Bengaluru and Mysuru and a complete label unit in Bengaluru.

Srinivas says the company has also established an independent mono-carton packaging set-up equipped with Komori, Bobst, and Indian-made post-press equipment. The new entity for the mono-carton packaging business is Kaizen, which will be handled by Akshith Srinivas.

Srinivas family with its Ricoh Pro C7500

Growth mantra
Srinivas has a straightforward approach to business, and he chose the name Usha for his business for the same reason. “I wanted a simple and easy name, so while he was walking and a Usha fan was running before him, he decided to opt for the name Usha. Hence, the name Usha Prints was born.” 

This is his approach to business as well. He explains, “From day one, I decided not to criticise the printing and packaging industry at home or the office. I have seen many of our colleagues do that. They often say that margins are not there, raw material is a problem, and payment is a pain. That’s why my next generation happily joined the business. Whatever we are, it is because of this industry. Then what’s the point of criticising the industry? Why will the next generation join the business if they don’t see a future here? We have to show them that the packaging and printing business is growing, and it is a profitable business.”

The next-gen, like Arpitha Srinivas, Srinivas’ daughter, embraces the learning journey. She shares, “While business is not new for me, the packaging and printing business is new. As a new entrant, we learn more through problems and failures. It’s not just about earning profit but also about understanding how to reach that level and what kind of processes we must follow. I completed my bachelor’s in engineering from Bengaluru and gained valuable experience in the IT industry before pursuing my master’s in marketing management in Spain.”

Along with Arpitha, Srinivas’ son Akshith has joined the family business after completing his master’s in management in the USA. “I have visited our digital printing facilities since my school days in India. So I could relate to the business better and faster. My interest was always there, and I wanted to join the business but wanted to see the world and educate myself first,” he says.

Srinivas emphasises the importance of family unity in business growth. He shares, “That’s why I expanded the business. I told my children, if you want to join, then join soon and they agreed. Our shared vision and unity have been the driving force behind our success.”

Arpitha is responsible for the labels business. The facility is equipped with a Konica Minolta AccurioLabel press, an Iwasaki semi-rotary flexo press, and finishing equipment for the segment. 

Akshith is responsible for the packaging unit for mono cartons. The plant has a Komori printing press and a Bobst post-press equipment, among others. The new packaging facility has a 20,000-sqft area.

Recently opened digital printing facility of Usha equipped with Ricoh press and a small cutting machine 

Working with Ricoh 
Besides the eight Ricoh machines installed by Usha Digital, the company already had 12 digital printing presses from Konica Minolta. Now, they have a total of 20 digital cut-sheet printing presses.

Srinivas stated that the company decided to invest in a different brand as it apprehended it would face difficulty in managing 20 machines from a single vendor/manufacturer, especially during breakdowns and other issues. “We approached other vendors, but Monotech Systems responded quickly with a better deal. Fortunately, Monotech Systems provided their first Konica Minolta machine. Therefore, the supplier is the same, only the manufacturer has changed.”

Akshith added that Usha’s customers usually require only four colours, but neat and clean printing. “Our machines have the capability to deliver such prints. Customers usually ask for business cards, catalogues, brochures, envelopes and other similar kinds of jobs. So, a simple four-color print is fine for them. They don’t demand half-tone or skin tone or other parameters of printing quality. We were successfully running 12 digital printing facilities and never faced any printing-related issues. However, we faced issues related to media quality, gumming, adhesive and other related segments but not printing.”

But why eight machines in one go?
Srinivas explains, “We were planning for more printing facilities, but the pandemic happened, and we put our expansion plans on hold for two years. To bridge the gap of two years, we opened eight centres in one go. We plan to install four digital printing facilities at every three km range in Bengaluru and one or more printing facilities in major districts of the state. He adds, “Now, we are back, and the next generation is also in. So, I am excited and hopeful for further expansion. We are running 20 printing units, and 18 are digital. Each digital printing facility is equipped with a digital printing press and a small cutting machine. Each facility has an independent team.”

According to Srinivas, all Ricoh presses have a five-colour (CMYK+1) gamut to meet future demands. “Currently, CMYK and the fifth colour will depend on the specific market at a particular centre. We print short runs of copies. With the addition of eight new printing locations, we can now print around 20-lakh A3 colour copies per month. Before the Covid pandemic, we could only produce 15-lakh copies per month.”

Srinivas family at its Bengaluru facility

The growth story
Usha started with offset printing in 1995. The company ventured into digital printing in 2003, initially as a partnership company, before it separated in 2021 to become an independent business.

“Our business approach is unique as we primarily cater to printers and not direct clients. We have not yet explored the market for business and I was unable to pursue higher studies beyond 8th standard. Nevertheless, I initiated this business, which has been successful,” says Srinivas.

Srinivas worked as an employee in various printing presses in Bengaluru for a decade before starting a screen-printing business from my home in 1991. “In 1995, I started with a single-colour printing press, and in 1998, I acquired my first four-colour machine and never looked back.”

As part of Usha’s expansion process, it has recently invested in post-press/finishing equipment such as a Tiancen lamination machine from Ample Graphics, a stripping machine from Suba Solutions, a Kodak thermal CTP from Monotech Systems, and others.

“With these investments, we are now aiming for a turnover of Rs 30-35 crores. We are hopeful for the mono cartons business since there are several pharmaceutical companies nearby. We have the complete setup and work directly with clients for packaging,” Srinivas explains.

He adds, “We have an open and fixed price policy, and we do not offer credit to anyone. Even for a single sheet, we produce bills, and we maintain a database of more than 20,000 customers. It would be impossible for us to manage all of them with different policies, so we have a single policy for all. We are currently working on a custom-made ERP solution, which will help us reduce tension.”

Monotech Systems is thrilled to announce the successful installation of eight Ricoh Pro printers at Usha Prints, Bengaluru. Ajeet Pareek, business head - of digital products and solutions at Monotech Systems, says, “This partnership marks a significant milestone in our commitment to delivering cutting-edge digital printing solutions. The Ricoh Pro’s unmatched speed, reliability, and print quality will undoubtedly elevate Usha Prints’ capabilities, enabling them to meet and exceed their clients’ expectations.

“We are excited about the possibilities this collaboration brings and look forward to continuing to empower businesses with innovative technologies that drive growth and success.

Srinivas has a team of 120 people working, and he plans to hire another 20-30 people. “We believe in working well, eating well, sleeping well, and expanding well while being happy. This is our mantra, and we do not involve ourselves in any rat race. We work with a cool mind, without any hurry or too much risk. We prefer going slow and growing well without any tension or firefighting.”

Eight centres with Ricoh 
1: J P Nagar
2: Jalahalli
3: Sudhama Nagar
4: Bommanahalli
5: K R Puram
6: Hubballi
7: Gulbarga (kalaburagi) 
8: Mysore (B N Road, Nazarbadh)