Small scale printing as a viable business

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Stanley Opara

Starting a printing business in this day and age can be an exciting, profitable adventure. What kind of printing company you start will be largely dependent on your printing experience and your capital.

To start a large- volume- large- format printing company, you need to have previous printing experience or be able to hire it. Large printing presses sometimes cost hundreds of millions and require very much expensive support equipment and supplies.

For small businesses, however, a close look at a small format or ”quick printer” is relevant. A small quick printer can offer more personalised service that customers want from this kind of business. Many people who walk into a quick print shop know what they want but not exactly how to ask for it. Many of the chain printers hire young unskilled workers whom in many cases know less about printing than the customers.

A small scale printer based in Lagos, Mr. Ola Busari, says he had worked in the printing industry for almost twelve years. With vast experience in colour press printing, he says it is very interesting starting his own small printing business with a good high volume colour copier that is capable of networking with a computer system.

Busari stresses that for the sake of business, having at least two high speed black and white copiers also networked to the system will be fine considering that people will come with different specifications of job considering their needs.

Depending on the volume one will be expecting to do as a result of the market size, Busari says some businesses may want to add more than that.

He says, ”When shopping for copiers, look at leasing if at all possible. Technology changes very fast and you do not want to get stuck with an outdated copier that you cannot get parts for. A service contract is a must so you do not have to pay for all the expensive parts they like to consume.

”Talk to multiple salesmen of differing brands and look closely at what the different copiers can do.”

According to the Managing Director, Hewlett Packard Nigeria, Mr. Ime Umo, digital printers are the only kind of printers that give businesses edge in this era of innovation.

For him, the reasons for this are that they have no negative environmental effect on employees or the community, and have high level of productivity.

HP says that users of its products in some parts of Africa can be prone to using fake products, especially printer cartridges, as a result of growing counterfeiting.

Buyers should, therefore, watch out for counterfeiting in printing supplies for the LaserJet, Color Laser Jet and Inkjet printers.

For instance, according to the Anti-Counterfeit Programme Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, HP, Mrs. Tina Rose, ”Counterfeiters and fraudulent traders frequently deceive customers into thinking they are buying genuine goods, with print cartridges either packed in copies of original HP boxes or in reused original HP boxes.

”Buyers of counterfeit print cartridges run several risks, ranging from substandard print quality to printer downtime due to damage by inferior counterfeit supplies.”

According to the Director, Design Concept, publishers of Printers Digest, Pastor Tunde Obokhai, the process of printing is categorised into three major stages namely: Pre-press, Press and Post Press. He says these various stages in printing have over time transformed into big businesses.

He describes the Pre-press stage as the stage where the conceptualisation of an idea is developed before the actual printing takes place which involves developing and being creative about what is to be printed.

He explains, ”Today, this aspect can be sub divided into: Developing and writing creative elements (copy writing in the advertising agency); designing the creative (which is done by graphic designers); transferring designs into substrate (film or plate) that can be used at the press (printing) stage.

”The above listed aspects have all become businesses of their own, likewise in both the press and post press stage.”

He describes the ‘Press‘ stage as the actual printing stage with various methods of printing that have also transformed into businesses which include: large format, screen printing, monogramming, direct imaging, light and heavy package printing, digital printing, among others.

For the ‘Post Press‘ stage, Obokhai says there are also some activities that have become businesses like perfect and spiral binding, saddle switching, lamination and Uv spot lamination, among others.

He maintains that the result of the above has led to the proliferation of various aspects of the print business, adding that for any entrepreneur to develop or grow his print business, small units of this business as they appear must be developed so that they can meet the ever-changing expectations of customers.


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