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Shijo Lonappan, director of Silver Point Printing Press, LLC, Sharjah in conversation with Venkat Raghavan, shares his opinion about the current printing trends and where the printing industry is heading towards.

Born and brought up in Trissur, Kerala, Shijo Lonappan completed all his education from his home town. After completing his education, he managed a screen printing division and he learnt all the basics of printing from the press. He worked for eight years in India and then something sparked in his mind and he came to UAE in 2004. He worked in his sister concern for one year before starting his own printing press in 2005.
Talking about his career, Shijo, commented, “I was born and brought in a middle class family where I have grown up by seeing my father working as a foreman in   a printing press, Kerala Agricultural University and whenever time permits I use to go to the press and see how the printing jobs are done. Since, it’s a big press I have got the opportunity to see all the latest machineries over there. After completing the education, I immediately started a screen printing division and didn’t even wait for the results to get announced. I have managed a division, for more than eight years and learnt the whole process of printing over there. Later, I came to UAE in 2004 and joined in our sister concern in management division. In UAE, I started my career in printing press servicing divisions like die making, die cutting, block making, foiling and spot UV, and gradually moved across all departments. Over a period, I have gained some knowledge and experience in printing industry, which made me to start printing press service ‘Silver Point’ in 2005.”

Highlights
•  The press was started in 2005 with 4 employees and now it has 115
•  In 2012, they have opened a new branch in industrial area number 4, Sharjah
•  They are planning to expand more in digital

Talking about the Silver Point Printing Press, he added, “We have started the printing press services in 2005 with 4 employees and we gradually expanded the printing press but we never took a big leap to avoid getting perished. Currently, we have around 115 employees and most of them are with us for a long time.
We do most of the printing services works in industrial area number 1 and packaging jobs in industrial area number 4, which was started in 2012 as a branch that is specialized in luxurious perfume boxes, gift boxes and many more.”
As far as I evaluated these were the few changes that happened in the printing industry, Shijo said, “The printing basics always persisted to be same and I didn’t see much difference in them. Printing is an industry where technological enhancements occur quite often. During those days, everyone has to give more importance to the offset printing but the market requirement has changed a lot in the last few decades. Now, customers are expecting a swift return from every press, which pushed the printing presses to switch over to the digital printing. In addition, those days we use to get a lot of jobs and there was no such huge competition in the market and even the profit margin was very good but due to unhealthy competition, market has come down drastically.”
He explained about his company benefits, challenges, memorable moment, and the region scope, “I have a good relationship with the employees and they are our backbone and without them we would have never attained this growth. In our company, there is no such boss and employee relationship and everyone is common in the press. We provide good facilities to our employees like, employee recognition awards and accidental insurance. Challenges always persist and most troubling factor is the credit policy. Now, it has become a quite difficult task to handle the credit terms and we strongly do all the evaluation procedure before providing to the clients. Our company credit period varies from 30 through 90 days but at this period we can’t even say a definite period for it. Our company faced some collection issues during 2016 and 2017. However, we overcome the toughest period by restructuring our credit period and lending facility for the new customers. I believe that there should be some credit bureau for the printing industry, which would allow us to have a healthy competition. The memorable moment in my career would be the day when I arrived in UAE on 2004 but after that I had many but this is the best one, which comes to my mind immediately. The market is currently looking for short turn around jobs so digital would be the future.”
Talking about his plans for the next five years and the current market, he added, “As there are some short run requirements, we are going to expand more into digital. The unhealthy competition is the one bad factor, which is there in the industry for a while. The margins are getting down due to the unhealthy competition and everyone has to understand before giving a quote to customers.”
Signing off, he requested the companies to do a job with affordable margin, which would allow them to run their business safely and will not spoil the industry as well.