Contrary to the misconceived belief that the Internet is casting its web wider into the printing and publishing industry, the demand for ‘hard copy’ has been on the rise, promoting the wellbeing of printers, except that the market is meant only for those with the will to compete with quality without compromising their principles.
New Zealand’s printing sector has been consistent with its share of high quality companies but just a handful, if at all, could aim to reach the class of the Kalamazoo Group, which has been adding value to every single job that goes out of its well-appointed plants in Auckland and Christchurch.
The Group’s Managing Director Steve D’Souza believes that printing is not a run-of the-mill exercise but entails an eye for precision and aesthetic quality.
“Responsibility accompanies every job that comes into a printing house. Be it a simple job of printing letterheads, business cards or stationary items or a corporate publication that bespeaks a brand and company image, nothing can be left to chance. Printers must exercise quality control and ensure that what is delivered to a client is worthy of shelf-value,” he said.
A judicious combination
Such an attitude has helped the Kalamazoo Group, which incorporates Wyatt & Wilson (a rundown company that Mr D’Souza purchased last year) in Christchurch and a large printing and publishing house in Bangalore, India, to grow from strength to strength in less than ten years. Customers, including Government departments, Banks, large corporate houses and small businesses acknowledge that quality could be neither cheap nor exorbitant. There is a smart way of achieving cost-effectiveness with judicious combination of factors and inputs.
“Kalamazoo is not just a printing company that puts to bed the artwork received from clients or advertising agencies to turn out the product in a jiffy. Speed and accuracy are of course an essential part of this business but nothing can surpass quality. A job well conceived, planned and executed, accrues cost-price advantage compared to ‘somehow-get-on-with-it approach. That has never been our motto,” he said.
Mr D’Souza and his wife Odelia are the sole owners of the Group and just how the partners in life bring value to their products and services as partners in business is itself an incredible story. Their life and career is an eye-opener to those who moan and groan, blaming market trends and economic downturn.
Total solutions to all
“Customers bring their jobs expecting quality service and delivery. While such confidence can never be betrayed, our specialty is to understand their needs and offer total solutions. The Kalamazoo Group is today able to provide paper-based business systems, designed to streamline business processes and reduce time-consuming and time-wasting administrative tasks,” Mr D’Souza said.
With experience and expertise that span almost 28 years in the printing industry, he has been the trailblazer, letting his heart rule his head. He is constantly on the lookout for companies that are in trouble so that he could acquire and turn them around. That is yet another distinctive feature of this maverick executive (see People in Business in this section).
Division of responsibility may be informal but it is complete in the Kalamazoo Group. While Mrs D’Souza concentrates on the financial health of the companies within the Group, ensuring that productivity and profitability are above target, teams of qualified and motivated professionals help Mr D’Souza run the Group.
His association with Kalamazoo began less than eight years ago as a salesman knocking on corporate doors for business. Deep-rooted commitment and urge to grow made him evince interest in the overall progress of the company and when opportunity knocked on his door, he decided to purchase the shares and become its owner.
Since the time he entered the portals of Kalamazoo in Auckland, the Group has been registering enviable progress, registering 100% growth in a market that is riddled by cutthroat competition and make-believe players.
He attributes the success achieved to his team and the joint ability to foster the aim of improving the image of the customers served.
“We have designed every product to not only suit the needs of our varied clients but also enhance their business profile. This extends from visitor passbook used at reception desks around the world and the continuous business forms that speed up the administrative process to the exceptionally high quality commercial print solutions that give a company that unmistakable professional look,” Mr D’Souza said.
He said the Group’s extensive range of manual business systems is used by millions of people, from the small business owner using Kalamazoo’s accounts receivable and ledger books, to the Health and Safety Officer enforcing legal obligations by implementing an effective visitor pass system.
“Ultimately, every Kalamazoo product is designed to simplify processes and improve overall efficiency in the workplace environment.
“Our total supply chain for commercial print enables us to proactively manage all print needs, from predicting stock replacement before it is too late, to responding effectively to an urgent order,” he said.
As manufacturers and print managers, the Group adds value by ‘brokering’ the best price for its clients as well as producing optimum print products.
Arguably, the Kalamazoo Group was the first (and remains one of the few) specialist printers authorised by the New Zealand Bankers’ Association (NZBA) to print security-proof cheques.
Mr D’Souza continues to invest in the latest print technology, enabling the printing plants to deliver consistent premium quality products, meeting the toughest deadlines and budgets.
The belief in high standard of professionalism encouraged Steve and Odelia D’Souza to sponsor the Best Professional Services Business category of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards (IBA) 2010.
“We are happy to be associated with the IBA, which has been designed to recognise and rewards successes within the Indian business community in New Zealand.
“This award recognises a successful professional services business, which exceeds customer expectations, in line with the principles and operations of the Kalamazoo Group. We look forward to the Awards Night in November,” Mr D’Souza said.