Lasertryk.dk has in the past years become the absolute lightning tower in the Danish and even in the Scandinavian printing industry, so what wouldn’t be more natural than paying them a visit. CEO Esben Mols Kabell explain about how he and his partner Anders Groenborg started and how they got to where they are today.
Esben Mols Kabell also gives his views on the investments they have done in Heidelberg H-UV, his view on Inkjet – and since this text is updated October 2016, we now know that Lasertryk.dk decided to invest in a HP T-240 printer.
Watch or re-watch this great episode – and which was one of the very first episodes on INKISH.TV.
We have a lot of interesting products working in our IT department right now that some of them, I’m pretty sure; will change the future of Print.
We first started out as an Event company. Basically, we needed flyers for our own production. We needed prints fast and we needed them cheap. And back then, you could either get it fast or you could get it cheap, but you couldn’t have the combination. So, we’ve bought a small photocopier and then we’ve started selling prints to mostly discotheques that we were working with. So, flyers and posters – and from there, we’ve moved on to selling cards to the discotheque owners, girlfriend who usually would be a hairdresser; and that was how we’ve started selling prints. We have grown a bit since.
We have always kept basically the customers’ needs in focus, and in that way we have been quite successful. Today, we mostly have our focus on the Scandinavian market, and we’re not as big in Norway and Sweden, as we are in Denmark, but today we are growing faster in Norway and Sweden, than we have ever grown in Denmark.
A lot of the things that we do with the gang runs of Offset jobs is – the bigger you get, the more efficient you get; so, there is a lot of advantages in growing. So, I think we’ll keep the production centralized. Then again Scandinavian is a fairly small market, so we can have a pick up here around noon, and then it will be in all of the Southern Norway the following day; and also we have pick up here at 9 o’clock in the evening and for be able to then reach Southern Sweden in the following day and more-less the rest of the Sweden in 2 days. Transportation time is not a big issue and it’s faster to have the goods in the truck and then have them produced fast. Well, our goal is to maintain our growth and to become one of the biggest Scandinavian players in the market.
Our reason for choosing the 8-color H-UV Offset Press was production speed again, so basically it is more expensive press than conventional press, but the main events we gain with the UV is that it is instantly dry, so that we can process the printed products immediately.
Well, as we see it, basically, this battle between Digital and Offset has been more or less unchanged in the past 8-10 years. Today we still have a split between Digital and Offset, around 250 copiers, Xerox would love to say a 1 000 copiers, but the reality is that when you cannot read your Offset Press as efficiently, then you’ll get the lowest cost price from around 250 copies. Basically, it’s a calculation between the price of the press, the price of the operators; speed is not really a price relevant, yeah, when you look at the price for the operator, and the price of the prep., there is a time price of the machine, then speed becomes relevant. But, basically in digital where you have one guy operating 6 presses and at Offset we can’t have one guy operating 6 Offset presses.
With the Offset you have the price of the place, you have the price of the set-up paper, and in Digital you don’t have that, but you have a much higher price per page. So, today we have a split of around 250. Actually it was a bit higher 7 or 8 years ago, when we got our first Offset presses. Back then we had a split of around 500 or 600 copyies. But, in these 8 years, the click price in the Digital has basically, dropped to about half the price, than it was 8 years ago. But the set up time in the Offset Press has dropped to about one quarter of the time, so the actual split between Digital and Offset had moved downwards and not upwards. But also on that issue, you can also now start to look at the big continuous feed presses is impressive for the Ink-Jet and that we see for instance with the HPA TC areas: that could be all sales prices, or ‘Rico’ has just come up with very nice new press. And there we see click prices that is half again. And then you see the vendors of these Ink-Jet presses saying: “Now we can produce 3 or 4 or 5 000 copies in Digital” and that is actually not true. When they half the click price, they basically just move it back from 250 and back-up to 500. So, to do the Digital Press is still not suitable for 3 or 4, or 5 000 copies.
If some Offset printer wants, or printers in general, want to come and visit us, they are very welcoming, we are very opened company and we also actually have a lot of visitors coming through the company every day and seeing what we do. We think of that as a good way to build relations, we don’t really understand people trying to hide what they do. In my opinion, it’s really hard to sell something that you keep secret.
No, we also have about 20 people here, just sitting, answering the phone, answering emails, being in contact with the customers in many ways; so, we’re giving a lot of advices on daily basis on how people should set up the right files or what options they have in producing a successful campaign, so we’re doing a lot of that. We also have some sister companies that are much more traditional, where they do some much more complex jobs than you can basically sell Online. Online is very difficult to sell – very specific types of paper, with a certain look and feel, because you can’t really see it when it’s online. And also a lot of special effects is really hard to price in an online schematics, and it’s also hard to explain to the customers what this special feature actually is.
Oh, we have a lot of interesting products working in our IT department right now that some of them, I’m pretty sure; will change the future of Print. I think we will see a lot more services where websites and companies are connected with a company like ours and our IT infrastructure, so we will have not a basically website to print, but from any website to have print. So, we’ll integrate more directly with our customers, so they don’t have to generate a PDF file – go to our website and order. We’ll have much more where the order is done basically in the company’s Internet and designed in there.
Basically, we have filled an API for using all our products online, so when a company says: “We need this product quite regularly, can we do the design on our own website and just press the green button?”, and then push the data to us directly, and yes they can. And then it’s picked up from an FTP, with an XML file in the PDF and sent directly into production.
In the Scandinavian market the customers are very focused on speed. For instance, with Digital Print, our standard delivery time is that you order today and we will ship it tomorrow. And then you can pay an extra fee of about €25, and then you can order it today and we will ship it today. And about one third of our customers – they really can’t wait for us to ship it until tomorrow; they are ordering it shipped today. They are really in a rush. So, in that sense, with that many of our customers needing things tomorrow, it is very hard to service that from Italy, or from Southern Germany or from England.
And of course, we are doing this from this very small language area called Denmark, where our country is smaller than Hamburg, population-wise. And maybe that is a good thing, because it makes the big German companies less interested in Denmark. Basically, it’s much more interesting for them to gain another 2% market share in France, than it is to them, to start fighting in Denmark.
Why did I ask to become a member of the Board? Well, today we are one of the largest players in Denmark and I think that we should probably be represented there and also have some influence on what we think is important in our Association. You can say all the major printers in Denmark are members of the Board, so it makes a good sense.
In a company like this, we have people with very different skills. There is a lot of difference between the IT guys doing the websites and a guy putting things into a box and a guy operating in Offset press. They are at very different places in their lives; they have a very different career and visions about being here. Some are just here for 1 or 2 years, to have a job before going to University and some have this as their career. So, in that sense we’ll get people of different age and also we all know this is a city with a lot of different ethnicities. I think we have people from 19 different countries working here right now.
Our main advantage is our ability to handle a lot of jobs. We handle, on a normal day 700-800 jobs. In our high-season we can handle more than 2 000 jobs in a single day and basically our advantage to most of the printers is not that we run our presses faster – they will go at the same speed, and we don’t buy paper a lot cheaper, but we are very good at handling a lot of jobs with a minimum of staff. And the bigger the job gets, the smaller advantage becomes. Because, if you can handle a job for €5 and it’s a €50-job, than you have a good advantage towards original printer, who might use €50 on handling a job. But, if it’s a €5,000 job, then the difference between €5 and €50 on administration is irrelevant. So, we have no plans on moving it into the matter of really big print jobs.
Many think that we only sell products available on our own website, but in reality we sell a lot of jobs that is not sold through the website. About 70% of the jobs we do is ordered online; about 30% of what we do is ordered through our customer service. Today we say you can order online, you can order through email – we can advise you what product you want and need and we’ll basically produce almost everything, but we are limited to what we can do here in Aarhus, so we don’t go to customers and put up the signs for them or put up a plastic on their cars, or whatever. So, as soon as it turns into a lot of manual labor again, we don’t have any advantages and then can just as well be outsourced. I can’t really advise people on what to do with their unique business. In general, I would say if you are a small printer, small printing company with small Offset press, with just 1 or 2 digital presses – it’s hard to build good Web solutions, it’s difficult, it costs a lot of money, so I think people should try to grab a niche, become very good at one specific thing and not try just to sell everything.
Basically companies like ours are better at that; so don’t try to be able to produce everything. If you are small then become the best at one thing and then move from there onto another thing. When we’ve first started out, we weren’t really good at everything, basically we were only good at making posters and flyers, and then we’ve started with some business cards and then we’ve started with some postcards, but we took one product at a time, keeping up with only doing things that we were actually good at.
I think we have had a lot of products that we have done at some point of time, but has ended, that is no longer relevant. I don’t think main discotheques today are distributing flyers or putting up posters – we have Facebook for that or email services or blogs. I don’t know where they do their marketing today, but I’m quite sure that we don’t print a lot of flyers. And also, we have had a lot of companies doing spiral bound books for certain things and today a lot of those things are online and a good message could be – try to look at what will happen in the future and then start acting on it now. You have to develop constantly, because a lot of the things we do will go away and then you need to be ready with new products.