Sporting side of the print industry

The portrait of a printer as fun guy, who refuses to be bogged down by demanding customers, delay in payments, a production process and daily routines. Noel D'cunha and Krutika Mody find out

02 Jun 2010 | By Noel D'Cunha


There’s not a week, I can go without striking the cricket ball, says Chittranjan Choudhury, the managing director of CDC Printers, Kolkata. There is something about the feel of the ball finding the middle of the bat, and the sweet sound it produces; it gives me a sense of speed, energy and power.
The 50-year old Choudhury is passionate about cricket. For him it’s a common thread that runs across his print business, family and his team at work. I believe passion can be one of the greatest competitive advantages. Everyone needs inspiration in life, some take it from books, some from historic events, some from personal life and some like me, from playing cricket.

While most of the individuals are caught up with the obsession of making career successes and investing in businesses, Choudhury says, there is a general decline in life quality. Nobody remembers the years when a great business deal was struck or a big contract was signed. It’s the time spent at leisure with friends and family, which is much cherished. During the many hours when he is at the cricket field, he forgets business. I forget deadlines, I joke, unwind and go home happier.

Making the difference
For the last five to six years, Choudhury hasn’t been able to get rid of the cricket bug. And he is as serious about his business too, a super successful printing firm, CDC Printers.

Choudhury says he started from meagre beginnings. Oh yes, I’ve had two business misadventures. I actually had a very humble beginning and endured hardships on my way to success.

Building two sites for print production, Choudhury has made it his duty to visit both the sites, to ensure that the place where he has invested so much money and time can turn the corner. He does it through proper supervision and care for his employees and machinery. Beside a successful print firm, Choudhury is also proud of raising a Rotary team. Until last year we did not have a team. I was one of the three persons instrumental in building one, mostly comprising players half my age, he says. In March this year, he walked out as captain of 21-member strong contingent from Kolkata as one of the teams from India to play the Rotary Cricket World Festival in Durban. It was a big high. Choudhury also has a hat trick in a T20 tournament in 2009 to his credit.

Just like cricket taking a leap of faith in technology, Choudhury has pinned his faith on adopting new technology. The Rs 10-cr turnover printer has expanded operations with installation of CTPs, two new presses and new post-press machinery. Just like technology allows players to challenge the decision of the on-field umpires, new technologies in print allows printers to challenge their own service capabilities into differentiating value for their products, says Choudhury. No wonder, he has turned CDC Printers into an award-winning business.

Glorious uncertainties
But what is it that makes Choudhury leave the comfort of his cozy bed in his house and reach the Eden Gardens as early as 6am? It is questions like this that makes him philosophical. Just like cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, so is the print business, he says. Today, the customer has become very concerned about quality and understanding the customers perspective has become a mystery. One does not know what they will ask next.

Choudhury says he tries to tackle the situation with a straight bat. Just remember that the only certainties in cricket and business are that there are no certainties, says Choudhry. So he pads up and enjoys the thrills of the game and business. Remember, when you are passionate about what you do, who knows, your next big contract or award could be round the corner.


In the middle of the crowd enjoying the race at Mahalakshmi or Pune race course is a given for Don Surti, the director of Mumbai-based Prodon Enterprises. It’s not only a horse race. It’s the king of sports, a titanic celebration and a nostalgia trip.

Surti, as a young man nursed a passion for horseracing. Had it not been a stint at London School of Printing way back in 1962, he would have been an ace horse trainer.

On his return from London he worked in S Y Buchanan and Company, an engraving and printing company, where Surti’s father, Jehangir was a partner. Surti started Prodon Enterprises in 1976, the year in which he also bought his first race horse, Felecino.

I wanted to be in the sport of horse racing from a very young age. I was an avid follower of this sport, but the realisation that I could not take it up full time lead to the next best thing, following in my father’s footstep, says Surti.

Since then Surti’s passion and determination paid off big-time. Prodon has carved a niche for being a boutique print house while Surti has become the only racing horse owner-cum-trainer in India.

A sporting family
Darius and Jehangir, co-directors and sons of Surti have joined him managing the print business, which besides the owners comprise of 17 others employers.
Among the Surtis, Darius is an avid race-goer, though he along with Jehangir have been national level squash players. His grandson Yohann is also a national level squash player having participated in international tournaments.

My father is very intense about horses. He tries hard to understand what would be the best method to train, keeping in mind the schedules and comfort of the animal, says Darius, who shares the same passion for horses as his father.

He says: Running a small print business, he did not have a lot of money, but he was highly motivated. He was looking to cut cost of owning a horse and that’s when he thought to put his training skills into practice. He added: He really was into print, and he used the basic print machine monitoring efficiency to optimise the horse’s ability. In a sense, that makes it a great example of knowledge transfer and adaptability. Some years ago, Surti scored a treble (three winners from the eight races that were held on that given day) on the same day.

Mixing pleasure with business
Surti practices and entertains himself watching movies while pursuing his love for the sport as well as business in print. He loves to be at the horse-racing club in Mahalakshmi for two hours everyday before coming to the press. And during the Pune racing season, he leaves for Pune in the afternoon on Thursdays and returns to Mumbai after the week-end racing is over.

Taking all the thrilling strides, I am still a successful businessman; I am still fit and can do some crazy things, says Surti.

That said, Surti is also known for his gentle, courteous manners and starched white shirt. A client of Prodon, says. He is one of nicest and most candid people you’ll ever meet. He is a good businessman and manages his own stable. Not too many guys have that kind of overall knowledge he has.

And he is grateful for what he is. There aren’t many who get such opportunities. I have always done things that I enjoy doing. The thrill is in living life to the fullest. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this sport first as a spectator, later as an owner and finally as an owner-cum-trainer.


  • Archies’ chairman, Anil Moolchandani goes to bed at 9:30 pm wherever he is.
  • Repro India has one of the best cricket teams in the print industry.
  • G P Todi, Ajanta Offset and Packaging, loves Italian food. He  wields a Rs 5 pen because they write much better than the branded stuff.
  • Chennai MicroPrint’s, Ramesh and Ramu have a special fondness for Thanjavur paintings.
  • Bidhan Dev, Bhabhani Offset, loves to eat fish, especially hilsa and chittal.
  • Coimbatore-based Glo Color Lab’s Ramanan loves travelling and exploring forests in India.
  • The Mehta family, SRK Creatives, is fond of ornaments, and the entire family adorns an Om locket around the neck.
  • Ram Noumula of Moser Baer loves golf. So does Bimal Mehta of Vakil & Sons.
  • Khagesh Patel’s  Holi and Diwali parties are one of the most awaiteda evenings in the industry. (Patel Digital).
  • Mehul Desai of MOS is an avid cricket fan and loves to coach his teenage son.
  • Wintex Flexo Print’s partners and now their sons shop for their cars, together. And even vacation together.
  • Gautam Kothari who is at the helm of Interlabels, loves to travel far and wide, and relishes all kinds of cuisine.
  • B G Kukillaya, one of the doyens of pre-press in India, narrowly survived the terrorist attack at The Taj in Mumbai. (Universal Print Systems)
  • The Muchalas  of Silverpoint love black; and have air-freighted strawberries from Wimbledon for their key customers.
  • Rakesh Bhatnagar of Rave Scan is stylish and enjoys a drive in his Mercedes.
  • R Suresh, the CEO of S T Reddiar is the joie de vivre of any party, especially when he belts out popular Malayalam songs.
  • The Alapatis of Kala Jyothi are collectors of cars and bikes. Plus a six-hole golf course.
  • R Shanker, the CEO of EIH, loves his Mercedes but drives an Innova from Delhi to Manesar.
  • The Aggarwal brothers of Bharat Box are known for their hospitality and are avid cricket fans who support a local cricket club.
  • The CEO of TCPL, Saket Kanoria was an avid squash player, but is into badminton these days.
  • Ravi Jasra is a collector of old books, furniture, photographs; and new ideas.
  • Auto Graphics and D J Bangara are big supporters of Red Rooster Racing and render their vehicle wraps.
  • Fred Poonawala of Comart, is a playstation geek. He is grooming his son into a soccer player.
  • Vineet Jain and Samir Jain, owners, The Times of India group: Vineet likes discos, Samir often visits a spiritual retreat close to Haridwar.
  • Mahendra Mohan Gupta, CMD, and Sanjay Gupta, CEO and editor, Dainik Jagran: M M Gupta hangs out at a chaiwala’s when in Kanpur. Sanjay likes the colour blue.
  • Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, chairman of the Dainik Bhaskar group: He loves eating chaat in Bhopal’s Chowk area. He is good at number crunching.
  • Alok Munot of Prabhat Printing Works plays a tough game of soccer for a local club, which he captains. Munot loves to pick up serious bruises and score goals.