In this Over the Skype we talked to Héctor Castro, Managing Director of Müller Martini Latin America, who tells us about the wide portfolio of finished solutions, as well as the importance of automation.

En este Over the Skyple platicamos con el Ing. Héctor Castro, director general de Müller Martini Latino America, quien nos platica acerca del amplio portafolio de soluciones en terminados, así como la importancia de la automatización.

Hello, good afternoon, friends. Well, now we have the great pleasure of talking to Héctor Castro, general director of Muller Martini Mexico, who is going to tell us a little bit about the company, about its beginnings and how it has achieved success over so many years. Thank you very much for being here. 

Thank you very much for inviting me, it is a pleasure to be with you with such a prestigious and well-known media as El Impresor Internacional, and thank you very much. 

Thank you very much, so what do you say we get started, tell me a little bit about your beginnings, how you got into the industry? 

Sure. Well, that was some years ago… quite a few years ago, and I started in a company called Intergráfica, which I’m sure you remember. I was 20 years old when I started in this industry and basically I entered because I had an invitation from Pedro Huerta, who is a family friend, very well known also in the industry. And I was starting my college career and there was an opportunity to start working there a little bit, doing everything. And that’s how I joined Intergráfica in the sales area in the year 85, as I was saying, and so I spent many years at Intergráfica, I was growing, I finished my career and later there was an opportunity to go to South Africa, because that company Intergráfica was part of the Ferrostaal group. And I was there for a few years and when I came back from there, we are talking about the year 1999, almost 14, 15 years after I started. The opportunity arose here at Muller Martini when Muller decided to have its own offices and since November ’99 until today we are here, at your service. 

And how have you been doing? 

It has been good. The truth is that it is a company where you work very, very, very well. We have a range of different products that help the graphic industry in the finishing area. And well, it has been many years, many situations that we have gone through in Muller Martini since its beginnings, and well, here we are and we will continue to be here. 

Well, tell me a little bit about what we can find in Muller Martini. 

Well, yes, Muller Martini is a Swiss company, we manufacture mainly finishing equipment. We have different types of equipment, we have machines for stapling magazines with wire stitching it’s called. We have machines for…for hot melt binding, soft cover binding. And we also have machines for hard cover binding. We have machines also for wire stitching. And basically these are our, our main parts. In addition, we have another area, which is the one that has developed the most now, which is all this binding, but in the digital area. We manufacture machines to bind digital printing, let’s say, for books that they call it “Book of One”, which is something that the industry is demanding a lot in the last few years and we have machines that can make a single book different from the next book. Both soft cover and hard cover as well as magazine stapling. These machines that I am referring to have become the bread and butter of the world due to the needs of the markets where nowadays it is not so much the volumes of the same product, but different products with short runs or even products of only one run of a single book. We have this type of equipment and it is something that has helped the industry a lot and we feel very, very comfortable offering this type of equipment. 

No, in part, because they have a very broad portfolio. For all the needs that we are experiencing right now. And speaking of that, how do you see the outlook with this pandemic, with this situation? 

Well, I think the situation is unusual. It is extraordinary, something that we are experiencing that we have never experienced before in humanity or in history. For us it is something totally unusual that not even our parents lived through. There was a pandemic more than 100 years ago, but nothing to do with what we have today, because with all the communication that exists these days it spread very fast and it is obviously affecting all of us. However, I believe that rather than complaining, we must see opportunities. Every time there is a crisis, opportunities arise. And this complicated moment is also bringing business opportunities. We see it in the area, for example, what we are doing now, you and I, that we are doing the interview this way by a digital way, because previously, although the methods existed, almost nobody used it. We have been forced or pushed to use technology much faster than we would have liked. And this also creates business opportunities. So, since we have been in the pandemic and specifically with digital machines in our business, it has grown a lot. In the area, as I was saying, of book printing presses and “Book of One” or very short runs. So, yes, on the one hand it is affecting us in the traditional business. In some areas we have to say it because when trade is limited, when people’s mobility is limited, this affects economies and affects all of us consumers and when it does not affect consumption, it affects production, but on the other hand it also creates other opportunities. So I believe that each one of us, from our own trenches, has to look for ways in which we can find opportunities in this difficult, extraordinary moment. And Muller Martínez is no exception. We have looked for opportunities and we have achieved new business opportunities in these difficult times. 

Let’s say then, Hector, that this is the way they are facing the challenges. That’s their way of facing you.

Yes, he also gave on a day-to-day basis, uh. But now I am in my office, as you can see. We have not stopped being present and being there for our clients. What we do, obviously, is with great care. We try, for example, the people who are here in the office are only here for a while every day and not all of them at the same time. With all the hygiene measures, we all wear masks. Not me now, because I am with you, but I have a mask too, we measure temperature, gel, etcetera. And on the other hand, our technicians, our engineers, technicians, also have not stopped attending to the needs of our customers. Of course, nowadays mobility has been affected. There are times when we cannot travel to other countries because in addition to Mexico, we also serve other countries in Latin America, for example, or we even support Muller Martini’s sister companies in the United States or elsewhere. We have encountered some problems for this mobility, but nevertheless our technicians have not stopped attending and giving service to our customers when it is possible to do it physically at the institute, because we do it in a different way, because we do it electronically.

Besides, you talk about a very important point, the technical service, which is of the highest quality and they are always present. 

Well, the reality is that there are no bad machines. I think that nowadays all equipment is somehow distinguished by its quality, but in the end what counts is the support that a company can give to another company or a customer. And in that sense, well, that was the reason why Muller Martini had a vision more than 20 years ago to start setting up its own companies around the world. Its was the case in Latin America, which was in the year 99 where we have our technical service in most countries we have spare parts, we have qualified technicians, most of them proudly in the case of Mexico, Mexicans. In my case in Mexico all of them are Mexicans and all of them have received their education in Europe in the factories, certified. And I think that is a very, very important part of the success of being able to serve and support our customers. Because there is no point in changing industries and I have the most beautiful car and I don’t have car dealerships that can give me the service that was proposed, or if I have a problem and there is no technician that can help me. I think it is very, very important to be able to provide an adequate, timely and quality service in order to be successful in this business. 

And that it is not just about selling machines for the sake of selling, but that there is a backing behind it. 

We do not consider ourselves salesmen, we believe that we are advisors to the industry and we have a lot of knowledge of both the industry and the technologies that we can offer to our customers and always before proposing a solution, we make a study, we see what are the needs of our customers, what are their times, we see what their budgets are. We get 100 percent involved in the project before offering a proposal as to which equipment can best support the required solution.

Let’s say, Hector, that you think that is the success factor. 

Well, I believe that there are many factors, I believe that there is no recipe for success, I believe that success is a way of living. You have to live with quality, you have to say things, you have to create trust, you have to create a bond and you always have to act in good faith and act professionally. If you do, if you work in this way, act in good faith, act professionally, always telling the truth, always looking for the best solution to a problem and it does not necessarily have to be the most expensive solution, but it has to be the most adequate. Then success will come. You don’t have to look for success. I believe that success comes like a wave. When everyone performs well, all your colleagues perform well and you have the capacity and the professional knowledge to give, to help, well, your clients and your friends. 

And what do we expect from you now, any launching, any presentation, anything, any innovation from you in these times? 

Well, we have had several launches, they have even been published in the magazine El Impresor, we are going to present at the DRUPA, which is now the DRUPA. No, no, it did not take place. But the area where we are more focused now is, as I reiterate, is in the machines for digital printing technology, but in each of the different branches that we have today, all our machines are already and have a great intelligence. All those machines are connected by mode, by remote, by modem to the factory or to Muller Martini. All of our machines. Well, if not all, most of our machines are already being motorized, which helps us to be very fast. In the set-up, (unintelligible name of a machine set-up), it’s called, it helps us avoid waste when it comes to starting a shot. It’s very, very fast set-up to already be in full production. And yes, we have several new equipment, both in the binding area, Hot Melt, soft cover, hard cover and stapling machines. And well, if you go, if you have time to go, triple “w” dot Muller Martin and dot com, there you will be able to see all the different equipment we have and all the innovations we can present and with which we can support the industry. 

Were you affected by not participating in DRUPA? 

Well, I think it affected all of us, but I mean everyone, from customers to suppliers. On the other hand, I think everything has changed a lot. I sincerely believe that we have adapted both as suppliers and as printers and binders to the new realities of today. And of course it would have been, it’s always nicer to go to a show. It’s always nicer to see friends. It’s always nicer to see things live with your own eyes. But I say it again. We are seeing a new reality and we have to adapt. Whoever does not survive in this world is the one who does not adapt. We have to adapt and the only thing that doesn’t change is that everything changes and we have to adapt and we have to move forward. As suppliers to the industry, as printers, as binders, as material suppliers, we have to adapt to new realities. I don’t think this is going to last forever and honestly, it’s been a little bit desperate. We are already a year into this new reality, but little by little things are changing. I don’t think they will go back to the way they were a year ago. The reality is that I think we are going to start living in a new hybrid way between a virtual reality like the one you and I have now and a direct communication. But things are going to get better, they have to get better and we have to be positive and we have to be attentive and we have to be very proactive close to the industry, close to the customers and close to the factories. And well, there will always be ways to communicate and to solve our customers’ needs. And right now it is a virtual way, so yes, we will do it. When the conditions exist to have a fair again, we will participate and we will be there. 

Well, to finish, something you want to add, something that brings us closer to Muller Martini and to all the people who are watching us… What could you tell us? 

No well, first of all I would like to thank you for this opportunity to participate in this interview with El Impresor Internacional.  I would like to send a very warm greeting to your general manager, to Don Joaquín, to little brother Joaquín Menéndez. I send him a big hug with much affection. May he continue to take care of himself. I am glad to hear that you are well. And well, I believe that we should all be very, very focused, very, very concentrated on our business. We have to take good care of our resources, that is very, very important. Now is the time to take care. Taking care does not necessarily mean not investing in resources without knowing where to invest our resources wisely. I believe that today automation is becoming more and more important, every day it is more and more important not to have waste, every day it is more and more important to have only the personnel we need. Because if we do not invest in technology, although the final product may be very nice, in a machine that gets a current technology, all the costs involved in production can go to heaven. And today those who are going to survive, those who are doing well, and fortunately there are many of them in Mexico, are the people who are very prepared and have the latest technology, because only in this way can we optimize our costs and only in this way can we optimize our time and offer our customers quality, price and on-time delivery. So Muller Martini is here to support in the area in which we are specialists and we are glad to be here at your disposal and to order. Whatever we can support you today and always. 

Well, thank you very much indeed. Thank you for this talk. You gave us some very good advice, you opened our panorama in many things, really. Thank you very much and you know that we are always here for you. 

Thank you very much and take care of yourselves. Take care, take care of yourselves and we remain at your service.