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A family affair

‘We make promises reality!’ That’s the slogan of The Hendricks family, which offers the printing and packaging industry an unparalleled blend of service, integrity and innovation. But this isn’t a big corporation – essentially, it’s a medium-sized family business. Gill Loubser discovers what makes the Hendricks family tick.     

While fairy stories invariably start ‘Once upon a time …’ many more realistic tales have been published over the ages, often family sagas. Invariably such chronicles embrace successive generations and how they contribute to or detract from the triumphs of previous or future generations.     

Many packaging and printing companies that we visit around the country in our never-ending quest to find scintillating material for edition after edition of PACKAGiNG & Print Media are family businesses, and often – aside from business and technology matters – these families have their own fascinating histories to tell.     

One such is the Hendricks family, steeped in Cape Town’s packaging and printing industry as a well-respected supplier of engraved tooling and dies.    

Like an easy-drinking wine, a successful business depends on fine ingredients, judicious blending, and a painstaking maturation process.   

And that certainly describes the Hendricks family business, which started life in 1972 when Roderick Hendricks established Rodcor Engravers & Die Sinkers, having learnt his trade as an engraver and factory manager alongside Mauro Pagliari, founder of Pagliari. Established in 1957, Pagliari is Cape Town’s longest-established engraving company.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. They’ve weathered some storms along the way.

Following Roderick’s death in 1997, his sons took over the rudderless business and continued trading as Rodcor until the end of 2000. But then they were becalmed – lost in a sea of problems caused by the management of their late father’s estate.

Cutting the story short, however, the brothers regrouped in 2002 and established RC Engravers cc t/a The Engraving Company (TEC). Since then, it’s fair to say, they haven’t looked back, making an unassailable name for themselves in Cape Town and throughout the country – building on the company’s four decades of solid service as a reliable supplier of tooling to the packaging, labelling and narrow-web sector.

A keen sense of integrity

Looking back, it’s clear that Roderick left his sons – Antron, Grant, Linton and Byron – far more than a well-respected tool-making and engraving business. His primary bequest was instilling in his sons a keen sense of integrity. This legacy – combined with the skills he taught them – has stood them in good stead, allowing them to build on their inheritance.

In fact, TEC was initially established to service the automotive industry with marking tools. This experience, together with their already extensive knowledge of metal cutting principles, allowed the Hendricks brothers to improve on the process of rotary die manufacture. And it was the provision of solid rotary tools to the printing industry that sparked research into flexible dies, eventually leading to the establishment of their second company, Apple Die South Africa, in 2006, taking the family to a new level and bring the first effective flexible dies to the local market. Underlining the success of this venture, the company recently supplied its 10 000th die.

There’s no doubt that superior service and uncompromising quality pay off. Antron, Grant, Linton and Byron are firmly committed to being industry partners rather than merely suppliers. It’s their firm intention to concentrate on meeting customers’ demands and adding as much value as possible.

Just one other example of the type of skills they’ve gained along the way was a foray into label printing. In 1989, they were the proud possessors of one of South Africa’s first Mark Andy 830 presses; and managing that business unit (Nu Label), Linton learnt invaluable label printing lessons, knowledge he’s now able to share with his customers.

They’re equally committed to investing in internal processes and equipment – both hardware and software – in order to speed up manufacturing and customer services.

With the goal of providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ service to the printing industry, another business, Foil Craft, was established in 2008 to provide photo-engraved, magnesium, flat foil and embossing blocks.

The onslaught of the recession in 2008 caused many casualties and one was Rotoflex, the internationally-known supplier of tooling and slitter rewinders, which eventually closed its worldwide operations in early 2009.

Rotoflex had been TEC’s and Apple Die’s primary competitor but the closure of the local plant changed the scene.

Subsequent discussions between the Hendricks family and Michael Aengenvoort (who had headed the Rotoflex operation in South Africa) led to the establishment of a joint venture, and the formation of a new company called Rototec.

In entering this 50/50 partnership, Antron and his brothers believed that, despite their strong suit in technology and innovation, much could be learnt on the sales front from the new alliance. And innovation continued with the fabrication of the first locally-manufactured magnetic cylinder through collaboration with the newly-constituted Rototec team.

Rototec has since evolved into an industry leader providing untold expertise in precision engraving and die sinking, with a line-up that includes hardened and chromed rotary cutting dies, print cylinders, anvil rollers, air-plus-cut dies, magnetic cylinders, removable blade-cutters, sprocket punches, cutting dies, gears and hot foiling cylinders.

Into a new space

As we continue to turn the pages of the Hendricks saga, the latest exciting development comes in the form of a renewed focus on local representation of two premium Italian printing and finishing machine manufactures, Omet and Cartes.

During a recent week-long visit to South Africa, Sergio Villa, Omet’s international export manager, commented that South Africa’s great growth potential had been confirmed by his customer visits in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, where he noted strong emphasis on cost savings in the production process, especially in terms of waste material and lost time.

‘Omet can provide a solution to this problem. Our goal is to establish and cement a solid presence in South Africa and we have chosen the best local partners to do so – the Hendricks family shares our passion for service excellence, and possesses a keen business attitude and high principles and values,’ says Sergio.

That’s indeed a great endorsement of the Hendricks brothers’ keen sense of integrity inherited from their father.

And so a new chapter is now to be written. The Hendricks brothers have arrived at a point where they’ve established themselves as leaders in their field of engraving tools and dies, they’ve added exciting and pioneering products to their line-up such as flexible dies and magnetic cylinders, and now with their two Italian principals are moving into a new space, offering equally innovative printing and finishing equipment to complement their other products and services.

T +27 021 5341162
www.rototec.co.za/ www.omet.it/ www.cartes.it

[Ed’s note: Interestingly, the establishment of Apple Die South Africa and the launch of PACKAGiNG & Print Media were almost simultaneous events in 2006, so we’ve had a particular reason for following the fortunes of Antron and his brothers; and we haven’t been disappointed. Watch this space for the next chapter in this family saga as we chronicle developments with local uptake of Omet and Cartes technology.]

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