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Babu Varghese, managing director of Al Bony Printing Press, Sharjah in conversation with Venkat Raghavan, shares his knowledge about the printing industry and explains where the industry will be heading.

Born and raised in Kottayam, Kerala, India, Babu Varghese completed his education from his home town. After completing his education, he opened a printing press in India. In late 1980s Varghese came to UAE with all his managerial experience and capabilities to explore the opportunities.
Speaking about his career, Varghese said, “I was born and brought up in Kottayam, Kerala. After completing my education, I had multiple options to choose and start my career but I finally landed in starting my own printing press unit. Since my childhood I had keen interest in printing, which is one of the reason I started the screen-printing. The business was running successfully for couple of years. However, I wanted to explore the opportunities available in the UAE so I came to UAE in 1980s. Initially, I couldn’t get a good job, which I was expecting so I started working as a freelancer for printing industry. Since I owned a printing press in India, it helped me to grab the opportunities available in the market. I worked for couple of years in the industry as a freelancer and gained vast knowledge and contacts. Over a period of time something sparked my mind and I started my own printing press called Al Bony Printing Press. The press was started with minimal employees and it was going good.”

HIGHLIGHTS
● They are planning to go for ISO certification
● They are planning to start an advertising agency
● They own Al Bony Knife Sharpening Company where they support to more than 200 printing press in UAE

Speaking about the press, he said, “We purchased our first single colour GTO in 2000 and then we started to grow. We usually analyze the market opportunities before investing into any new machines. We do all kind of commercial jobs and we are currently planning to expand ourselves into digital printing. In addition, we are also planning to go for ISO certification to cater to more market. After some years, in the year 2005 we opened Al Bony Knife Company. Through this company we cater to industries like printing, plastics, and many others. We deal with more than two hundred printing press in the UAE.”
Speaking about the expansion plans, he said, “Since the power consumption in printing industry is high, it is restricting us to expand. Commercial printing is not slowly dying but the growth rate is very less. However, the packaging industry growth is not too high but the volume is good. We are planning to do business in commercial packaging. Hopefully, in the next couple of years we may have more certifications that will help us to attain good growth. We are planning to have more digital machines and will increase our employee strength at least to 25% in the next couple of years. In addition, we will be diversifying ourselves into other industries like advertising.”
Speaking about the challenges, he said, “A lot of printing presses are closing down due to the system of operation they follow. Most of the people are taking jobs just to run the printing press. We should build on sales and marketing team rather than compromising on the quality. There should be strict supervision on the estimation, which exceeds the base value cap. However, we won’t be able to go through everything but we need to give importance for high value jobs. The future of the company relies on the estimation so we need to give importance to them.”
Speaking about his family and hobbies he said, “I am staying with my wife and I have a son and daughter. The elder son is working with me and the daughter just graduated as a doctor. I don’t get much free time but when I get I spend time with family and watch sports on television.”
Speaking about the success of the company and his success, he said, “We always deliver the products on time, with good quality and excellent support. Again, my success is entirely based on the hard work and there are days where I have continuously worked to deliver the job on time.”
Speaking about the company business, credit period, digital opportunities, he said, “We are currently doing 100% jobs in local market but we are planning to expand in other countries as well. In the next couple of years we will be doing around 30% of business in international market. We offer credit period around 30 to 60 days but we don’t give it to all the customers. We evaluate thoroughly before offering credit period to new customers. In offset industry, there is not much of technological enhancement happening except the add-ons. The digital industry is growing a lot and they are having good colour consistency. Earlier, customers use to say that the colour consistency is not good compared to offset but things are entirely changing. Customers are happy with the output that they are receiving from the digital machine. The price per page has also decreased but the offset is still in the same price rate. The media versatility is also getting increased.”
Signing off, he suggests, “Every press has to make sure that all their departments are functioning to its optimum level. They should never compromise on the quality for getting profit or business. We need to keep ourselves updated with the latest happening in the printing industry.”