Page 18 - Print21 July-Aug 2018 Magazine
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Printing business
CMYKhub, an early adopter of HUV drying. After a trial, they pulled the lever on it and said ‘we’ve got to have it’. So we brought in as much as we could get hold off,” he says.
Another ‘champion product’ is Böttcher Pro-tect Sealer, which protects print from scuff and marking on perfecting presses. According to Mulligan it’s been widely adopted since he first introduced it here.
“Printers run it when they think there might be heavy ink coverage on a particular job. They love it. Some of them have now got to the stage where they run sealer all the time, because it’s cheaper than having to reprint a job. It’s a mixture of risk mitigation and insurance.
“The print goes straight out to
the bindery, with no marking. It’s
a sleeper product for us. We’re not competitive price-wise, but we’re competitive performance-wise. Printers tried it and they’ve gone ‘yes!’ because the worst thing is to have a sealer that makes your product turn yellow. I’ve seen that time and time again. Ours doesn’t.”
He delights at such acceptance: “It is really interesting for us. We bring something in, try it, and then next thing we know we’ve got an absolute champion on our hands. Those sorts of tailored solutions have been really good for us.”
Family values
In his time with Böttcher Systems, Mulligan has made a yearly pilgrimage to the German HQ for the annual meeting, although in 2011 the company broke tradition and held the event in Sydney. Böttcher is a family-owned enterprise; its current CEO, Franz- Georg Heggemann, is the eighth generation of the family. In 2015 the company celebrated 290 years in continuous operation since 1725, when Johannes Loosen first opened for business as a tanner in Cologne. That puts Böttcher in a very elite group indeed.
Its longevity is no cover for lack of dynamism; over the past 20 years, Böttcher posted an annual growth rate of four percent. “It’s not bad for a mid-sized global technology company that invests ten percent of its revenue in R&D,” says Mulligan proudly. Of course, the growth rate in Australia and New Zealand is much higher. That’s what happens when you come
from a standing start with a very competitive managing director.
“You need specialised printers, especially as eighty percent of the volume is done by twenty percent of the companies.”
When it comes to sales, Mulligan
is fairly ambivalent. Recognising the need to reach out to his customer base he sees the role more in terms of technical consulting rather than any hint of hard selling.
“I have a very competent technical sales team. They’re first and foremost here for their technical skills to
help maintain and develop the relationship with the customer. All of them were lithographers, production managers or demonstrators, who were well-positioned in the offset space when I was lucky enough to pick them up. They came with the understanding of that perspective.”
Böttcher service can be anything from educating customers on best practices for operating a press or upgrading maintenance processes to training and keeping skills up to speed. “It’s all part of the tools. We can go in and put a tailored solution together
to suit circumstances. So, if you call sales engaging with your customer and telling them of new opportunities or new ways of adding value to their business, then that’s exactly what
we do. When we’re aware there’s something in our tool kit that’s of use, we’ll engage. And we engage robustly.”
Keep rolling along
However, rollers remain the primary identified product. In this space Mulligan is quick to reinforce that there’s plenty of developmental work going on.
“We’re not going to sleep on rollers. It’s a question of getting the compounds right, of being able to cope with faster and faster machines, with the changes in technology in terms of inks – vegetable or oil-based inks. Then there’s the transition to LED and HUV inks and developing compounds that are stable, resistant and long life. That’s still our mantra no matter what the application.”
He continues: “The compounds
we had twenty years ago are very different to what they are today. We do around three thousand compound tests a year. Out of that we may find two or three that will stick, and they go to the next phase. The R&D team is always playing with the matrix.”
Changes in printing technology
have undoubtedly put the company’s replacement system to the test but some things don’t change. Mulligan says he is still called upon to recover rollers for 46cm one and two-colour small offset presses. That takes a bit of doing, but he’s happy to claim that he can still replace 52cm rollers from stock.
Grapple with change
Mulligan admires the way
printers have handled the massive transformation in technology and business over the past quarter of a century. He knows how difficult it’s been. Those who survived and thrived have had more than good luck on their side.
“I think there are those who’ve understood it well and adapted and changed. They need to be applauded. They’ve been agile and adaptive.
“In the main, we all grapple with the rate of change. But those who understand are having that conversation with their mates up the road. They’re putting solutions together. In the future I expect
to see more collaboration, more consolidation,” he says.
“That’s a positive thing. It’s better to do it now than wait until you’ve no choice. There’ll be printers that’ve found a sweet spot with unique offerings around for a very long time. They’ll always be there,” he says.
Much as Böttcher Systems Australia, in the lively and skilled hands of Mitch Mulligan, is set to develop its own specialised future for many years to come. 21
18 Print21 JULY/AUGUST 2018
Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Mulligan, managing director of Böttcher Systems Australia.

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