Ramani, the face of digital print, is no more
The man who helped HP Indigo to grow its installation base in the initial years, and established Kodak NexPress as an all-India brand in less than three months after it was introduced in India, passed away on 22 January 2023
23 Jan 2023 | By PrintWeek Team
Viswanathan Ramani, who died at the age of 54, was "someone special", said Vineet Vohra, an industry colleague.
“I first met Ramani at Ipex 2010 in Birmingham. He was the country head at HP India and was selling HP Indigo presses at the HP exhibition stand. His special leadership abilities and charismatic personality were apparent. It was clear that he would have an outstanding career in sales,” said Vohra.
Ramani entered the print industry after spending six years in the digital arena, working with different companies. In September 2008, Ramani joined Hewlett-Packard India as country manager (Indigo) – India and Sri Lanka. In November 2010 he joined Kodak India as the vice president for digital printing solutions – India cluster.
Vohra added that his first encounter with Ramani at Ipex marked the beginning of his professional friendship which turned into collaboration when he along with a partner, was made the value-added solution partners with Kodak for their digital presses Nexpress and Digimaster. “Ramani was a brilliant and visionary leader who achieved national recognition for his work in sales in the print and photo industry while working for big brands like HP and Kodak.”
At a time when digital printing was taking baby steps into the Indian market, Ramani was recognised at CADD Centre for transitioning from Xerox to Oce; and reorganising and realigning the company’s sales and support teams including continuing post-sales support for Xerox products.
In Ramani’s own words, he helped Kodak establish NexPress’ presence within three months of its introduction in India. He implemented an end-to-end inkjet book printing solution including workflow, printing and finishing at Repro India, India’s first. Ramani also helped KL Hi-Tech get started with the UIDAI printing project, its first CS digital solution. KL has produced 340+ million Aadhar cards since then.
During his two-year tenure at HP Indigo, Ramani helped the company grow its installation base from 30 to 80 machines.
Recalling his initial meeting with Ramani in 2009 when Reliable Prints first acquired an HP Indigo press, Dharmesh Mehta, COO of Reliable Prints, said, “The initial memory reminds me of a tall, soft-spoken and mild-mannered but sharp individual.”
Reliable Prints had already been in the digital print industry for more than 15 years and was looking to expand its horizons. “We had a fleet of Xerox machines and a few from Canon to cater to the print needs of our clients. A demo of the HP Indigo had caught the eye of our team at Drupa and once back we had started the process to explore the possibility of acquiring it.”
However at that point in time, HP Indigo was concentrating on the photo market in India and not keen on an installation at a print service provider, says Mehta. “Meenakshi Sapru supported by Ramani did all the groundwork in convincing the HP India team that Reliable Prints had the potential to make a mark in the commercial space for the HP Indigo also.”
Since then HP Indigo has been a part of Reliable Prints’ fleet of digital presses. It's been 14 years now. “The bond between HP and Reliable Prints built by Ramani ensured that we have a long-lasting business relationship which is ably being carried forward by A Appadurai of HP Indigo and his team in recent times.”
The Lord Ganesha frame gifted by Ramani to Reliable after the successful installation of the HP Indigo Press in 2009 is still placed in the press room.
Sunil Chhugani of PODS was introduced to Ramani after he joined Kodak. PODS had installed the Kodak Nexpress, and Ramani became the point of contact for Chhugani.
His biggest asset was his attitude to finding solutions, whether it was for doing sales of equipment or for finding avenues for the equipment buyers to scale up their business, he was constantly working on it. His zeal for doing business and his energy were infectious. He would always make you introspect. He had a thorough knowledge of the industry and the business with an eye for opportunities,” said Chhugani.
Bhalchandra Nikumb, Ramani’s boss said that he never thought he would have to write an obituary for a colleague who worked along side him.
Ramani worked with Kodak for four years in the areas of digital printing and was very passionate about his job. “He had in-depth knowledge of the photo book printing business,” said Nikumb. “For the external world, he was aggressive in his sales, but he was equally close to his office colleagues. He was very popular with his teammates and was accepted as a natural leader by the team.”
Ramani is survived by his wife Radhika, and two daughters.
Arun Gandhi, CGS
Ramani became a friend when we worked together on a project for Repro India together with Kodak. In fact, Ajay Bhatia introduced Ramani to me.
Since that time we started working on projects together and built a lifelong relationship. Ramani had developed close bonds with everyone he worked with in his career.
He was a very positive, happy person and left an indelible impression on every life he touched. When Kodak let him go I got him a job with Naresh Khanna of Indian Printer & Publisher. After that we could not connect with him as he fell seriously ill. After a few years, we connected on WhatsApp again and kept in touch. When he became better I invited him to come to Delhi and offered him a job as a friend.
He had a tough time in life with his health but was a true professional till his last day. He was one of the few persons in the country who understood the Hunkeler digital business and that is where we deployed his strengths. Very unfortunate to have lost him at such a young age. My heartfelt condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.
Meenakshi Sapru, ex-HP Indigo, (now at Huhtamaki)
Ramani.....his death is still appearing like a dream. His skills, humour and personal strength have always inspired me. Death can never take a good man away, for, in the hearts of the people he inspired, the legacy remains and continues throughout generations. He was a great teacher, mentor and friend to many. May his soul find eternal rest.
Vineet Vohra, an industry friend
Ramani was very passionate about sales and has helped our start-up in bringing it up from Death Valley to Silicon Valley. He successfully pursued other revenue sources to prevent any disruption in our start-up. We will long remember Ramani’s energy, tenacity and ability to cross tall hurdles. My mentor Ramani was a firm believer in the quote – No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.
He will be missed by many, but never will he be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to have known him. We all pray that the soul of Ramani gets liberated from the cycle of life and death and attains Moksha. Om Shanti for the strength of the grieved family.
Ramu Ramanathan, editor of PrintWeek and WhatPackaging?
Ramani loved to read thrillers. When I told him about Georges Simenon and Andrea Camilleri books, he said we should start a murder mystery bookstore. He was fond of Dr John Evelyn Thorndyke (a fictional detective who deployed science to uncover crimes). Like Thorndyke he was trying to deploy the science of inkjet printing to create a viable digital press for India. Our discussions were usually about what should be the speed of a digital press for India; especially book print firms in Daryaganj.
More importantly, how to integrate the post-press into the digital print workflow plus re-look at the unit size of the p-book. Ramani was very committed to creating a Maruti-Suzuki type Make in India model. As he said, "India is ready to produce a kit that can produce books. This means, finishing, also sheeting, perforations and section gathering. All inline. And most affordable." This was his dream project. He had thought about every single detail. Such as, 8-16 folding with perforation so that the edges can be trimmed for perfect binding. One did not always agree with Ramani. But he had his own methods and he was no fool. His death after years of health issues is unbelievably sad news.
A Appadurai, country manager, HP India
Ramani (bade malik as I fondly call him ) was an amazing human being, a giver and a great leader. Empowering people, transparency in solving problems and the eternal optimism that he imbibed into our team, we will be grateful forever to this great leader. Miss you, Ramani. Our prayers to God are to give the strength to the family to handle this.
Sudhanva Jategaonkar, business head, Haymarket SAC Publishing (India)
Ramani was my senior from Fergusson College in Pune. He was an avid reader. He would gobble up books, one after another on a weekly basis while many of us struggled to complete even one.
But he was more popular across batches as a large-hearted friend. He had a unique knack for befriending anyone almost instantaneously. A unique knack that kept him bound with almost everyone He met across his academic as well as professional life. Ramani brother, you will be fondly remembered forever.