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P M Shamsuddin, chairman and managing director of Printwell Printing Press talks to Shilpa Jasani about the times alphabet blocks were purchased for printing jobs to the current ultra-fast digital age.

P M Shamsuddin landed on Dubai shores 46 years ago, when there were not too many job opportunities.  “I was willing to take up any job, since my father died when I was very young and being the eldest, I had to support my family in Kerala, India.  The first job I got was as an employee in the defence department.”

 Printwell is established as an offset printshop catering to advertising, marketing, corporate literature and specialty presentations market segment.  

Walking down memory lane, Shamsuddin says, “We had established a core business in the 80’s called Videorasa, which required printed materials at odd hours and that too in very short lead times. Since we could not get these done by depending on a 3rd party to supply to us, we had to look for other alternatives and hence, the idea and  the need prompted us to start a small printing press for our humble requirements.”  Today, the printshop employs over 280 people, a real jump from its humble beginnings of 6-8 employees.

“ I think I have seen almost everything in the printing industry, given the fact the long number of years that I have been in this industry. From the time where we used to bring blocks for alphabets to this latest trend - the digital age.  However, there is one thing I would like to add here, that there is no place like the UAE. Take into account the most modern infrastructure, international exposure, its a business hub, UAE’s geographical location, business opportunities that are offered and the thirst for the best quality at the most competitive price.”

Defining success as team effort and the hunger to be the best in what they do, Shamsuddin emphasizes, “I have always been a great believer of understanding the strength of your company and also be realistic about what the company cannot excel at.  I see a lot of companies entering into different print segments, though they do not specialize in them. We have been very clear from the outset, that we would like to specialize in the commercial offset segment and improve upon our processes and standards and offer the best in terms of technology and quality to our customers. To cater to the wide demand for different requirements in the market, what we at Printwell have done, is to start a new venture with the people who are already pioneers in that particular segment. We have recently started a digital branding and fabrication unit in Al Quoz called Graphic Hub.”

Talking about the challenges Printwell faces in the current times, Shamsuddin explains, “Lack of availability of skilled labour, and of course competition from the others in the same industry, be it on price or innovation.”

Printwell has won many prestigious awards; some from  their customers as prefered suppliers,  while others from government organizations and multi-national companies. An avid business man, Shamsuddin counts music, sports and travelling as his hobbies.  “While every milestone was a memorable one, I am a believer that the best is yet to come. Five years down the line, I would like Printwell to expand in every field.  Though in Dubai, 5 years is a long time, yet, I would like to see Printwell move into our state of the art printing press in IMPZ in the near future, possibly this year;  and our graphic and fabrication unit be up and running.  We have also established a company - LuminArt specialising in a new illumination technology that is fairly unknown in our region.”  

Printwell has customers in the entire GCC region,  and have also established a printing set up in Thrissur, Kerala (India) and acquired a press in Ernakulam, Kerala.  “Though there has been a sharp rise in the number of printing presses in the region, which has reflected in increased competition; our steadfast reputation built over the years has ensured that our clients remain loyal to us.  Even retaining employees is becoming challenging.  We give our employees all sorts of benefits and perks over and above the salary, like good accomodation, transportation, medical benefits and all kinds of help during emergencies, yet some employees take up new jobs without a second thought. Manpower management is the biggest issue that we face and I am sure this is the same situation amongst our competitors as well.”

Expressing his opinion on the encroachment of digital into the offset industry, Shamsuddin says, “Digital prints are making inroads and will surely overtake offset segment in the future, however, printing cannot die, only the methods and technology will change and all of us need to adapt to the changing scenario in order to stay in the race.”

 

     Concluding the interview, Shamsuddin adds, “The advice that I would offer other printers is remain updated, apply proven technology, and automise as far as possible.  Motivate your team and be sincere.  Work hard.”