A rule breaker who seeks change

What is your print firm saying? Is it selling the brand? If it isn’t delivering its core values or adding value, it’s time to repackage. That’s what Vashikaran of Bell Printer says to Ramu Ramanathan

05 Sep 2013 | By Ramu Ramanathan

The conversation with Vashikaran Rajendrasingh is wide-ranging. It covers the history of Sivakasi and Virudhunagar, role of print in the age of disruption, the notion of limitless, cheap labour and a video highlight of the Bell Group which includes Bell Printers. 
The Bell Group is a group of companies, service industries and educational institutions founded in 1952, by A Chelladhurai. The first firm was Bell Pins Manufacturing – and the specialty was staple pins and later a stationery product line. Subsequently, the company expanded into a leading pyrotechnics company.
Vashikaran, who headed an education trust and managed a school before he joined Bell says, he read 800 emails in 10 days. That’s when he realsied that a top-down corporate approach does not work. He started to delegate and built a team. 

A few of Vashikaran’s insights -  All presses should opt for ERP
A lot of printers don’t know how to manage efficiencies. As a big brand or as a packaging company, you can’t expect your buyer or employee to be attentive all the times. Therefore ERP is good. It makes you ready.
New product development
Printers are good at pattern recognition, and that is what allows us to sustain. But we haven’t capitalised on it. We have to keep innovating, constantly. And stay ahead – always. It can’t be a single season venture.
The new workforce
It is important to create a sort of A-team of print technologists. Today, some have print backgrounds, some don’t, and they learn skills on the job. In such a situation, one should know how to handle people. A client may require thousand copies, ASAP. But if the binder is worried about his daughter’s health, it’s very unlikely a great book will be produced. 

The number of employees in a press
It is very easy for an print organisation to be measured by the number of people or presses. Printers should not fall for this trap. Instead look at year on year profits. And create a blue-print to achieve it.
Build creative technology teams 
The key is to create teams that work together as equals and as peers, and just empower them to fail, to experiment and allow them to be learners. We have review meetings and set targets that double our machine capacity; and reduce our people turnover.

Look at the world around
I like to always ask, what’s going on around the world? That’s how I got access to a free app: Foldify. It’s easy to use and even my four year old son creates folding cartons with it. He is not Da Vinci nor a designer. But thanks to creative apps like these, we have been able to develop upto 25 new products daily.
Sivakasi can be like Silicon Valley
The print firms can always deliver something good. Sivakasi has been a front-runner with the science of chemistry in fireworks and matchboxes. We could always deliver the same in print. We could build a huge pre-press hub, here.