Considered the only truly global print awards, these are the world’s most coveted accolades when it comes to print excellence, with each winner receiving a cast-bronze elephant trophy – created by world-renowned sculptor, Donald Greig – symbolising Sappi’s South African heritage.
The team at Trident Press proudly took delivery of their elephant at a gala event – indeed a fiery event, with entertainment provided by flame artistes! – held at the company’s printing works in central Cape Town.
Being recognised was the excellent printing of the book Singita Game Reserves, printed for HKLM, on Sappi’s Triple Green Print Matt 250g/m2 and 150g/m2 stock.
Regional gold award winners competed against each other in their respective categories and were judged by an international panel of judges, ensuring impartiality and a broad spectrum of technical expertise. Each entry was judged on overall appearance, quality of finishing and general difficulty of the print job, as well as technical factors such as dot sharpness, ink density, registration, sheet size, paper weight, screen ruling, stitching and die-cutting.
It’s a thoroughbred Although Trident Press has recently undergone a change of ownership and has a fresh management team, the company has been around for 42 years, and for the first four decades of its life enjoyed a solid reputation as one of Cape Town’s most respected printing houses.
Paying tribute to this heritage at the awards function was an upbeat Michael Brain, the company’s chairman and the man who rescued the company from near bankruptcy 18 months ago (PPM May 10, p90).
In his own words, ‘basking in the reflected glory of the fine team that Trident Press has become’, Michael, ever the keen purveyor of apt analogies, told guests: ‘It’s common cause that Trident was in big trouble, so much so that one supplier was heard to remark that he preferred to send the invoice and the summons in one envelope to save postage!’
But those days have passed because the new Trident team, again quoting Michael, ‘saw this dead horse lying on the ground, tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and, when the old nag stood up, discovered it was actually a thoroughbred’.
And it’s this thoroughbred that has allowed the team to bask in the glory of the Sappi International Printer of the Year award.
Michael went on to praise some of those who had played key roles in this success, starting with Bill O’Reilly, who founded Trident Press way back in 1968.
Also lauded were the contributions by Leon Kaimovitz and the team at UVP for their superb work on the book’s covers; Klaus Borgelt and his crew at Graphicraft for the exceptional book binding; House of Colours for the sterling repro and platemaking work; Stelios Giagas of Continental Inks for the inks used; Sappi for supplying the superb paper (and for paying for the party!); and HKLM’s Paul Henriques and Janine Fourie, who supplied the spectacular artwork.
Macro and micro significanceThis is certainly a significant award for Trident Press, but it’s also a significant award for Cape Town and for South Africa.
In a post-event interview with the management team at Trident, Michael Brain re-emphasises the fact that this award proves that Trident, Cape Town and South African can, indeed, be counted among the best in the world when it comes to excellent print quality.
He reiterates what he mentioned at the award ceremony … that this is too significant an award for a simple comment.
On the macro side, he maintains, it’s like winning an Olympic gold medal for South Africa. ‘I think we have shown the world that South Africa “can”, we really can, and if we can there are many other South Africans who can as well.’
On the micro side, it proves that when you fix something that’s broken and provide the correct tools and environment, it can rise again to exceed expectations.
‘That’s what the team at Trident has done,’ Michael stresses. ‘We have demonstrated in a competitive forum just what we’re capable of doing. We can provide great quality and outstanding service – and at a reasonable price.’
Over the years since its inception, Trident carved out a valuable market niche in the Western Cape, and employed any number of competent people, so the company started its new life with a strong talent base, determined to carry on that tradition.
As part of the quest to ensure the right tools for the job is a planned programme of investments. As mentioned in our previous article, one such investment was a Screen PlateRite 8600 computer-to-plate (CtP) system, supplied by Kemtek.
‘With an output of around 30 perfect plates/hour, the new CtP system has considerably improved our turnaround times and quality,’ confirms director, Lucas McDowall.
And now the company has a new press – a Heidelberg supplied in ‘as-good-as-new’ condition by Printech Engineering. As Frank Retter, production director, comments: ‘We were fortunate to acquire an “as-new” press for a reasonable price … it’s like buying a Rolls Royce that’s been run in by one careful owner,’ he quips with a happy smile.
In a market where service is the watchword, this new half-sheet size press offers five-colours plus a coating station, and completes the stable at Trident, joining existing full-size KBA and manroland presses. And, as an added bonus, the enhanced throughput is allowing Trident to make better use of its CtP system.
Now under close scrutiny by the directors is the possibility of further investment in downstream finishing equipment with a further R5-million budget set aside for this exercise.
‘We’ll continue to evaluate the market, and as demands grow we’ll have the resources, both financially and in terms of expertise, to expand,’ explains Kneale Caine, financial director.
Last word goes to Michael Brain. ‘Apart from the Sappi award, and improved turnover, most gratifying has been witnessing the euphoria of 120 people whose jobs were on the line 18 months ago … people who would have been unemployed if the company had ceased trading. Saving the company from bankruptcy has bred considerable enthusiasm and loyalty,’ Michael maintains.
And he’s right … a walk around the factory and conversations with factory floor employees confirms his contention. For instance in the dispatch department, Merle Stephanus, a dispatch clerk of 30 years’ standing, says she’s now feeling ‘secure in a well-managed company’. Her boss, dispatch manager, Kenny Sardien, with 31 years’ service, points to the challenges of getting to know (and be known by) the new management team, but says: ‘It’s great; it keeps you on your toes!’
That pretty much says it all!