Page 16 - Print 21 Magazine Sep-Oct 2018
P. 16

Print profile
“It’s about time to market. Customers are starting to leverage off it. They ask, why do I need a warehouse of fifteen hundred metres full of books when I can just print one on demand and send it?”
“You can’t keep on burying your customers,” he says. “Paper prices have gone up twenty per cent this year, Australia Post prices are increasing. As much as we can do certain things with technology, these are things the printing industry can’t control. Electricity prices are also being hiked up. Who pays for that? You have to make productivity changes, keep looking at costs and doing things smarter. You have to work with your customers. At the end of the day everyone wants to make money. If you don't make money, you’re not going to be around.”
This pragmatic focus on the hard facts cannot obscure the differentiating factor that Finkelde is one of the few printers ready to buy. His strategy is to seek out and buy good operating printers. He claims to have looked at more than 50, but admits that good businesses of the right size for sale are few and far between.
“We’re in discussions with a lot of people. There’re plenty of businesses out there for sale, plenty of people who want to sell, either for age or other reasons.
The industry will need to continue to consolidate. But it’s slowing down. You
go back ten years ago, and the people who were selling were turning over twenty five to thirty million. There’re not many of them left. SOS was a thirty million plus business but I reckon it’s the last one in New South Wales. You can count those remaining who are turning over more than ten million on one hand.”
It is difficult to find the right balance in the shifting market, but Finkelde does not have much faith in the current trend of smaller printers to outsource their printing to ‘for trade’ businesses. While recognising that at a certain age printers are reluctant to invest in new presses, it is not a practice he believes has much of a future, when customers can track comparable pricing.
“Is it viable in the long term? I don’t think it is. The days of having margin on margin are gone. Someone’s going to outsource
your printing and put a margin on it? Then they’re going to come to me and I’m going
to put a margin on it? Come on, people are smarter these days. Customers can source prices and quote very easily.”
Some things never change
Web to print is a defining movement in the industry but it is also not one that enamours itself to Finkelde. He has some old fashioned ideas that he is pleased to share, around service and communication with customers. In a tightening market the survivors are those with a clear understanding of what they do and where they want to be.
“The print market is not as large as it used to be, you have to address that, you have to face up to it. We know what we want to be, what markets we want to be in, how we want to service customers. It is about doing what we believe we are good at; packaging, POS, and the digital market are the three drivers. We’re also in commercial print in a big way, which is point of sale in some shape or form.
“At my stage of life, I believe you can’t replace old fashioned service. Sitting down talking to people and understanding what they want, where they are going, what you can do to help them. Not everything can be done over the internet. There are certain segments of the market that can be ordered online, no doubt about it, but when you are talking with larger customers – and smaller ones too, some people want to sit down, have a coffee and a chat.
They like to know who they are dealing with.
“That’s one of the sad things about
our industry; people think they can do everything by email. I believe that part of the industry is starting to drop off. When you stop offering value, you are of no value. How can you offer value over an email? It has no emotion.”
Not that he is locked into old ways of doing things. One of the reasons behind the SOS buyout was the lure of its digital production, it is a part of the industry that Finkelde is sure will grow. He sees it as an essential part of the AAB offering.
“Offset has its place and always will but how many Heidelberg and Komori presses have been sold in the past five years? Very few. Printers making those multi-million dollar investments would prefer them to
be made in the digital environment. That's just technology. But you have to continue to work on your business. That's part of the capital we’ve put in. If you are not going
to improve your margins through capital investment, why do it? What’s the point?
“Automation is driving efficiencies.
You look at our digital operation here,
our customers are moving towards the ‘production of one.’ They don’t want to warehouse goods. They want true print on demand, which started 25 years ago. The technology has finally got to the stage where it will allow you to do it efficiently, effectively and economically.
“It’s about time to market. Customers are starting to leverage off it. They ask, why do I need a warehouse of fifteen hundred metres full of books when I can just print one on demand and send it? It reduces the huge cost of obsolescence. SOS is one of the key players in the top five on-demand book printers. We’re looking to increase shifts in this space.”
Depending how you slice it, AAB is one
of the top four or five printing companies
in the industry. And it is aiming to climb that ladder over the next few years. This year takeover targets may be Victoria, but in the following financial period attention will turn to Queensland. The goal is for a unified offering the length of the east coast.
“We’ve a unique offering to the market. No one has the breadth that we do. We can supply labels; we can do packaging, large posters, books, POS, warehousing and logistics. We’ve got 280 people. We’re a work in progress
with a strategy of where we want to be, with
a target revenue figure. We think it's a good time to grow. The only way you attract big customers is to be of a sizeable scale with location. We’ve got to offer those services and we will. That's the name of the game.”
Printing as an industry and a game is hardwired into Wayne Finkelde. He’s old school, but never to a fault. Prepared
to hold the line when required, ready
to move and grow when presented with an opportunity, he’s the very image of a modern pragmatic printer. 21

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