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Manish Mukundan, director of Liberty Printing Press, Ajman in conversation with Venkat Raghavan, shares his intuition about the industry.

Born and raised in UAE, Manish has completed all his schooling from Dubai. He had a passion towards printing industry since his childhood, which made him to join London College of Communication in London, England for pursuing his education in BA (Hons) in Print Media Management. Later in 2010, he came back to UAE and joined his family business. He also has a degree in MBA (Finance) from the University of Wollongong.

HIGHLIGHTS
•  The company has recently received ISO 9001:2015 standard
•  The press was established in 1991
•  They are planning to open a new unit in Dubai, Deira

Talking about his career and how he got into printing, Manish, director of Liberty Printing Press, said, “When I was pursuing my degree in London I had received various opportunities to work for renowned presses and agencies which enabled me to understand the processes and systems from a completely new approach. I wanted to implement all the processes, which I contemplated in UK for taking the press to the next level but my father who was then the director suggested to observe the workflow and asked me to implement when I gain enough experience. He further added - It wasn’t an easy task to join an already established family business, when you have managers who were there for a very long time. When I joined the press in 2010, immediately I didn’t take the role of director. I had worked under various departments like binding, dispatch, design & print department and few more from the scratch. I have learnt every one of the nuts and bolts for very nearly year or two, which enabled me to understand each department and process better. After a period of few years, I handled the entire operations of Liberty Group. I had worked under various managers and learned quite a bit from each one of them. Later on, I stepped into sales and marketing and I never turned back since, it is something I really enjoy, meeting new clients and clinching deals. Currently I do bring majority of business for the company along with lending support to my marketing team.”
 Speaking about the business trends and opportunities, he added, “In UK, the working standards are substantially higher which allowed them to use less manpower. Again, the work compensation is costlier when it’s compared with UAE. I saw a decline in lithography in UK during 2008 itself and they quickly diversified their business into different applications like direct mails and personalisation. Here, we noticed a growth in packaging industry and invested heavily in packaging equipment before three years. Currently, our 40% of business comes from mid to low level packaging, which is our focus. The payment is one factor, which is troubling the industry. To tackle this, for every new customer we do an intensive check through our own resources. We chose our customers only after arriving to a conclusion that our payment is secure. Despite of all these reasons, the print market is doing quite well from the last one and half years. Since, we are an one stop solution we are able to do all the jobs in a quick turn around and again with our 24 hours facility, we are able to meet all the deadlines quickly.”
 Talking about the company success, he added, “Our staffs are the major back bone of our press and I am accepting all the jobs by trusting that they will be able to meet the industry standards which is one of the reason we are doing great in the market for a long while. There are few employees who are there with us for more than 10 years, which shows the trust we mutually have among us. Also I would like to thank our suppliers who have been of tremendous support, they understand working with a 25 year old company- the goodwill and history associated with Liberty, our suppliers have enabled us to grow positively.”
On asked what he does when he is away from all the inks and buzzing machines: “Well I am an Offroad enthusiast, part of a club-Desert Raiders, we go dune bashing every week, it’s a real stress buster and it challenges you a lot. Apart from that I am a vivid football fan, I support Intermilan - an Italian football club. Also am a part of few business networking groups, that keeps me busy throughout.”
Talking about company expansion plans, company business, and credit period, he added, “We are opening new outlets rather than expanding the same factory. We have Col.Art - a wide format specialist in Qusais, The Print shop in Ajman- for short run, the main Ajman factory, and now we are excited to open our fourth unit in Diera, Dubai. Since, there is a potential for digital printing in this region so we will be expanding our business more towards it. In 2015, our company went on to a full restructuring across all the departments. Now, our company is almost maintaining the European standards where all the process is being completely automated. We have recently received ISO 9001:2015 standard, which would definitely allow us to procure more business from overseas countries, that we already have a base in - Europe and Africa. Printing Presses in the region are ubiquitous but quite a few of them don’t have proper standards, machinery and business ethics. These kinds of presses are not paying their suppliers and in reflection, this is ruining the whole equilibrium of the market. In addition, these presses are not maintaining a proper credit period in the market. All the printing industry should come to an agreement to finalize the general credit period of customer and suppliers which will definitely improve the whole market.”
Signing off, he advices, the presses should take the job only after analysing the credibility of the customer, which would allow them to run their business properly without any cash flow hindrances.