The Importance of Qualified Workforce is Paramount
Ashish Panjabi of Jackys, speaks about the opportunities in the regional printing industry, the impact of the pandemic on the regional industry and more
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
Directly as a result of COVID-19, there was a slowdown in the short-term but as it became business as usual, we are seeing business beginning to return.
What were the key learnings from this pandemic?
The key learning was that you need to continue a dialogue with your customers and suppliers during these challenging times. Without a discussion, there is no possibility of reaching a result that works for everyone.
Did you come across new and innovative opportunities for diversification and monetization?
For the printing, signage, and cutting segments that we serve, we have been seeing a lot of diversification in the interior and customization sectors – though this began well before the start of the pandemic. Large format printing, too, has opened new segments and new application opportunities from printing and cutting on a diverse range of products and materials.
During the pandemic, we started with supporting many of our customers with creating safety and social distance signage and as businesses continue to open, safety dividers and face shields created by our Zund cutters.
Tell us about ways through which businesses can reshape or hit the restart button?
The core challenge many businesses need to realize is that they have to build a business that is sustainable. It is easy to push a lot of things under the rug and blame it on COVID-19. The fact is that many issues that people in the print industry faced, existed well before COVID-19 but got exasperated once order cycles or cash cycles slowed down or ground to a halt.
We, as a company, had identified several things that weren’t working for us before COVID-19 struck and started discussions with our teams about this. The fact that we changed our operating structures after COVID-19 was merely a reflection of the fact that the decisions had been taken earlier and we knew what changes we had to make for our business to sustain itself.
What sort of dialogues have you had with your employees, partners, clients about the way forward?
There are basic fundamentals that come into play when we have these discussions. They revolve around lower operating costs, increasing revenue opportunities, and gaining more yield / efficiency out of ours and their investments or resources.
We increased our focus on application training during this period for clients and with our suppliers, we organized several webinars for our customers to increase their knowledge as well. Automation is a big part of gaining efficiencies or increasing yield, so products like our Zund cutters have actually sold more in this period as it can replace labour-intensive work.
What is the scenario of the printing sector in the region? Have you seen any major diversifications in other areas by major players in the industry?
What we’ve seen is those who kept their cost base lean have done better. Several larger customers are struggling because they’ve over-committed and are uncompetitive in their fields now.
Tell us about how your products and solutions can help your customers diversify into new areas for business continuity?
With Zund, we’re able to replace several labour-intensive jobs whether it be cutting, creasing, or punching holes. We’ve seen customers expand from serving not only the graphics market but also move into serving manufacturing segments.
With the HP Stitch textile printers, we’ve seen the growth of customized and local fashion. With the increased acceptance of online platforms, there are people using this technology for personalizing design work.
Do you believe the regional market still has potential and opportunities? With new markets opening up like KSA and Israel, do you believe there are more opportunities popping up?
The fact that Israeli technology can be imported will open the opportunity for many brands to come into the market. We have already signed with Massivit, a leading manufacturer of large scale 3D printers that is ideal for the visual display market.
Will companies replace full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure?
If the labour laws allow this, yes.
In a post-pandemic world do you believe companies should focus less on roles and more on skills?
The importance of a qualified workforce is paramount and with online training becoming more accessible, we should see better quality resources in our region.