Print USA (Pvt.) Ltd., a member of the USA Group of companies came out victorious at this year's Collate Print Awards by bagging the most prestigious of all awards winning the number one position in Offset Printed Cartons category for its entry "Classic Tea - Collection 60 Tea Bags" manufactured for their client Empire Teas (Pvt.) Ltd. Flexiprint (Pvt.) Ltd., which is an associated company of the group, was also recognized in the Tags and Flexible Packaging categories winning Bronze and Silver at the Collate awards this year. The Sunday Times supplements desk met Mr. Sathis Abeywickrama, Managing Director of the USA Group of companies to find out more about their latest achievements and future plans.
"I have always believed in specialization printing, my initial area of specialization has been in marketing offset printed packages to the Tea Trade. In the year 1978 when I first started my career as a Trainee Sales Executive at Aitken Spence Printing, I had the great opportunity of making good friends with customers of the tea trade which gave me the exposure to the trade. During this time most of the value additions that were provided to the tea industry were imported. From my trainee days to the present, it has taken me 32 long years to prove myself as one of the best value addition providers in offset printing and packaging to the tea industry, which is an honour and a position that I hope to maintain.", says Mr. Abeywickrama.
In addition to winning at the Collate 2010 Print Awards, Print USA has also been recognized by the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging winning the President's Award for this year. Currently the country's print and packaging industry is governed by two prominent organizations which are the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging and the SLAP. Having won both awards is no mere coincidence, with its proven track record Print USA is undoubtedly the best when it comes to offset printed packaging in Sri Lanka.
"The main reason for my success I believe is the fact I have always been focused in one area of specialization. All my hard efforts and commitments have now been recognized and rewarded and I am proud to say that Print USA has now been given its due recognition as number one in the industry. Also I hope to continue this position in the industry by learning from the mistakes that we have done in the past whilst also living up to the expectations of our customers in every manner possible. I never believed or dreamt of becoming the largest printer but did everything possible to be the best. I am proud to say that today we have claimed our position as the best Carton printer in the industry", further stated Mr. Abeywickrama.
Print USA is backed by a committed management team a majority of whom who has serviced the company for a considerable number of years. Servicing the tea industry can be a very dicey business operation due to the high quality demanded and very tight delivery schedules. The company's future plans involve continuing with their selected areas of trade without any diversifications. However, depending on the demands that may arise in the future, certain diversifications may be done if the industry requires. At present Print USA will be focusing on servicing the value added tea and rubber industries.
Not being the largest in the trade has allowed Print USA to provide unmatched personalized services to their customers.
The tea industry has become one of the hardest to serve mainly due to their tight deadlines. The paper market is extremely volatile where the market price continuously fluctuates. Currently almost 90% of materials required for Print USA are imported from India and the Far East. Although imported raw materials are of high quality the services provided from Indian raw material suppliers are not satisfactory. Commenting in this regards Mr. Abeywickrama said, "I hope that the SLAP looks into this area of concern and develops a system in which bulk buying power with regards raw material imports can be undertaken by printers.
This method will also streamline all foreign suppliers to develop a much more decent method with regards to servicing the Sri Lankan print fraternity. If this is done I feel that it will become a major catalyst towards the progress of the industry." I guess the time has come for India which now has many Box board mills to identify the Srilankan printer as an important buyer and give the respect it deserves in the way of service. If both Srilankan and Indian governments could discuss mutual interest related to Material undoubteadly it will be a big advantage to our trade.
The export value added tea trade has very little chance of surviving without the offset packaging industry's backing, which has become a vital component of our local value added tea and the rubber trade. Even today the local printing industry has not completely recognized the power of offset printing, which provides important value additions to many areas in value added industries such as tea, rubber, spices and the garment industries. In short there is no industry that could survive without the printer.
In conclusion Mr. Abeywickrama said, "Today the printing industry has moved far beyond the printing of posters and tabloids.
The present print industry is playing a much more dignified and value added service which therefore has been able to create a larger impact on the country's economy. For the local printer to survive need adequate supplies from the overseas. We printers are doing a job of value addition in a way as our local source of Paper and board from government mills are virtually zero. This is also an area in which the Sri Lankan government can play a more active role by providing better tariff benefits for the supply of raw materials and machinery from overseas. I feel that there will be more job opportunities and competitiveness in the trade if the Sri Lanka Customs adopt a more liberal approach. Also the Sri Lankan government must recognize our industry as the most valuable when it comes to value additions."
Print USA has over the years strived towards establishing itself as a major player in the offset printed carton industry while Flexiprint is to day the single largest supplier of Tea Bag Tags and Envelopes to the Srilankan tea bag industry and a major player in Dubai, Saudi Arabia Moscow and the Far East. Flexiprint has diverse there production in to the Pyramid Tea Bag industry and has a very steady local and a export Market down under. Although it has never been the company's objective to become the largest in the industry, it has always been Mr. Abeywickrema's dream to become the best in the trade.
his goal has been successfully achieved after many years of toil and hard work and the company's recent achievement at the Collate Print Awards this year is ample proof that Print USA has successfully reached the top to clench the number one position.