The printing industry is having a difficult time. Companies are reducing spend on packaging to reduce costs and minimise their environmental impact. But taking an innovation-focused approach has allowed Shave and Gibson to stay ahead of the pack.
Jason Staats, the company’s financial director, points out that the printing sector has been experiencing extremely difficult times over the last few years, with depressed global markets, an unstable currency and a largely unskilled workforce.
Given this and not wanting to go the way of many of their peers, Shave and Gibson applied for funding from MCEP.
Strong performance on tough times
“We have seen large job losses in our market, and schemes like these help companies like ourselves survive, succeed, and grow, and hopefully employ more and more people going forward,” Staats says.
Even before the funds were approved, the company had pre-invested them, hoping that the scheme would come to fruition.
“So we have been growing and diversifying our business, not only re-investing in our current technologies with replacement material but also extending our operations.”
The company invested in large amounts of equipment, including printing presses, die cutters, gluers and high speed laser printers. “By way of an example, a large printing press can cost anywhere between R25 million and R35 million, so establishing a plant like ours is extremely expensive.”
In the process, however, the company has managed to ramp up its capacity by between 80% and 90%, and employ about 40% more people.
“We have seen 110 jobs being created over the last two years,” Staats says proudly.
Established in 1981, Shave and Gibson has grown to become one of the largest privately-held manufacturers of carbon board packaging and security printed documents in South Africa.
The company has two main divisions: packaging and security printing.
The packaging division prints a diverse array of carton board packaging for diverse customers and products ranging from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) types of customer to hardware, alcohol to “pretty much anything that needs a box”.
In their security printing division, they prints cheque books and deposit slips for the banking sector.
But Staats says these markets are drying up as internet banking has taken over, forcing the company to expand its horizons.
“We are forging further and further into sub-Saharan Africa, trying to find more avenues for security type documents. These include scratch cards, ballot papers, census and visa entry forms. We actually printed the 2011 South African Census forms.”
Staats is grateful to dti for keeping the industry alive. Everyone in printing is having a difficult time, he says, with people trying to reduce spend on packaging from both a cost and an environmental impact point of view.
“The dti has helped us in continuing our business, in growing our business and giving us access to capital.”
About the future of Shave and Gibson, Staats said he is “excited”. “We want to continue being a leading player in the market. Everyone has a ceiling which they will hit eventually but we still believe we have got quite a bit to go.”