Jon Robinson

Jon Robinson

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Saturday, 18 March 2017
Canon Canada provides a preview of the following three Graphics Canada 2017 booth highlights.

Return to list of Graphics Canada featured exhibitors

The Océ Arizona 2200 Series includes flatbed-based UV-curable printing systems designed for producing both rigid and flexible work. Building from an existing Arizona platform, the newest Océ Arizona series, according to Canon, are designed as versatile and high-quality imaging systems  for mid-volume print producers.
    
The imagePRESS C10000VP Series is designed for high-volume digital printing, running a range of media types, with what Canon rates as a monthly duty cycle of up to 1.5 million letter-size images. The imagePRESS C10000VP Series reaches print speeds of up to 100 letter images per minute with the C10000VP model and 80 letter images per minute with the C8000VP model, with both systems supporting media weights of up to 350 gsm. The imagePRESS C10000VP Series produces a resolution of up to 2,400 x 2,400 dpi with automatic colour control and adjustment.

The Canon imagePROGRAF 60-inch PRO-6000S and 44-inch PRO-4000S large-format printers using an 8-colour LUCIA PRO ink system designed for applications like production signage, commercial photography and proofing. The LUCIA PRO ink set adopts newly formulated, micro-encapsulated pigment inks for what the company describes as strong colour reproduction, image clarity and fine lines. Canon explains these reproduction characteristics are well suited for creating posters and advertising displays.
Saturday, 18 March 2017

Amazing Print Tech provided PrintAction with a preview of the following Graphics Canada 2017 booth highlights.

Return to list of Graphics Canada featured exhibitors

Web-to-Print provider Amazing Print Tech is showcasing a range of online storefront technologies for areas the company describes as business-to-consumer, retail, business-to-business, corporate, websites, estimators and content management system plug-in technologies.
    
In addition to create new Websites, Amazing Print Tech states it offers the largest library of premade templates, which can be embedded into existing Websites.

Sunday, 05 March 2017
The evolution and rebranding of ICON Digital Productions positions a large-format-imaging pioneer as one of North America’s most unique and powerful visual communications companies

On the top floor  of ICON Digital Productions’ 90,000- square-foot manufacturing facility, tucked into a dimmed backroom, three technicians sit in front of a dozen screens grouped together on the wall like the Network Operations Centre of a cable news network. They are monitoring some of the highest profile static print and dynamic digital signs controlled by ICON’s newly minted Media division, including all the visuals hanging in Toronto’s Dundas Square and way-finding screens directing passengers at Pearson Airport.

Responsible for thousands of digital signs across Canada for Blue Chip clients like Shoppers Drug Mart, ICON Media illustrates the reach behind one of the country’s most unique visual communications companies. Designed to deploy national signage networks by procuring all of the necessary hardware, developing business plans and ultimately managing ever-changing content for clients, ICON Media is well-positioned to take advantage of an evolving wireless world. It provides the company with an irresistible vehicle for C-suite strategy discussions with clients. The bedrock of the parent company, however, is formed by ICON Visual with one of Canada’s most powerful technological infrastructures for large-format imaging.

ICON Visual dominates the company’s Markham, Ontario, facility, which any grizzled graphics pro would recognize by its curved-glass façade as the former home of Apple Canada. This division generates more than half of the parent company’s annual revenue, which in its most recent fiscal year amounted to just under $40 million, by pumping out static display graphics with print qualities demanded by the likes of Fortune 500 cosmetic and fragrance clients, Hudson’s Bay Company and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

ICON Print is the third pillar of the company’s All Things Visual strategy, developed through a divisional rebrand in December 2016. After years of outsourcing the production of offset-print jobs for its Blue Chip clients, ICON in January acquired Toronto Trade Printing, bringing decades of 40-inch-offset expertise in-house. The move creates a multifaceted communications manufacturing company powered by ICON Media, ICON Visual and ICON Print.

Visual evolution
Last year alone, ICON oversaw the printing of more than 20-million direct-mail pieces in addition to a range of offset-produced marketing collateral. The company’s executive team has spent the past several months looking at both commercial and trade printing operations to purchase in the Greater Toronto Area. “We look at print not so much as old technology. We look at it as just another communications medium. In fact, our numbers tell us there is a lot of growth in print still,” says Juan Lau, President of ICON Digital, who co-founded the company in 1995 with Peter Evans and Peter Yeung. “The last three or four years we kept looking at our financial statements and, ironically, the fastest growing service sector was commercial printing – and we were not even trying.”

Without a direct need to acquire book of business from a commercial shop, which is the primary M&A driver in today’s printing market, ICON’s executive team was focused on finding the best lithographic-manufacturing fit for its existing AAA client base. Lau explains his priority was to purchase a well-established printer to immediately provide the offset knowledge ICON lacks after two decades of building a roll-fed digital printing operation.

Approximately 80 percent of what ICON  Visual now prints is produced with Durst roll-fed machines. Lau describes this as a key differentiator for ICON because its production has been built around a square-metre pricing model, driven as much by finishing and fabrication as by print production. “From a pricing model we are able to get more yield [using] rolls – just a pricing thing. We can get that buttoned down pretty quick. Printers getting into our space still go off the rate-card mentality,” says Lau, describing what he sees as traditional offset pricing based on number of sheets produced.

“We know a lot of commercial printers are trying to get into our space now,” says Lau. “To get into our line of work, they are going to blow their minds out on the finishing end… anyone can print, but it is the finishing that really makes or breaks a project.” Most commercial printers getting into large-format imaging also turn to flatbed machines, continuing to focus on cost-per-sheet pricing models.

Lau explains he never set out to build ICON as a traditional printing operation when the partners founded the company. In 1995, the Internet had not yet penetrated the minds of most people, fax machines and phones were the dominate business tools of the day, and modems were limited to speeds of under 20k. Still, Lau wanted the company name to hold the word digital, as well as production, because he initially wanted to start a video-production company. The key word ICON came to him one day when a radio host referred to Madonna or Michael Jackson, he cannot recall which, as the Icon of Pop.

Prior to opening ICON, Lau was running a photo-enlargement company producing monochrome engineering drawings and architectural blueprints, generating slim margins, pennies per sheet. Lau describes his large-format eureka moment arriving in the early 1990s after seeing new colour imaging technologies at a tradeshow: “The idea of taking a file and outputting larger-than-life graphics on just about any surface, whether it is vinyl or textiles, or what have you, nobody was really doing it.”
    
ICON’s first large-format machine was a Xerox electrostatic printer and, Lau explains, he and Evans decided to put a stake in the ground as a new type of printing operation. “We printed on sheets alright, but we printed it to transfer media and that allowed us to, with lamination, transfer it directly onto any substrate.”

The technology was slow, outputting two or three posters per hour, and not a realistic investment choice for offset-based commercial printers. Lau explains he was driven to own the market that ICON would serve, akin to McDonalds being synonymous with burgers, Coke with soda, and Rolex with watches. Advertising agencies were immediately drawn to the new output possibilities ICON could provide with one-off large-format printing, even if they would often turn to offset or screen technologies for longer runs. “We started to establish a name in the business to do mockups, ideas, innovative stuff,” says Lau, noting ICON initially produced a lot of tradeshow graphics ideal for one-offs.

“What we were bringing on was really, by today’s standards, considered disruptive technology,” Lau says. “We didn’t know it at the time, but I think we were disruptors.” He explains it took about a decade after ICON’s founding for large-format imaging technologies, shifting from heavy solvents to UV, to evolve into a viable printing process for new entrants. “We went through a metamorphosis ourselves around 2005,” Lau says. “A key turning point in our company because it allowed me to do what I do best and that is go downstairs and take care of the operations, because our sales had never declined since 2005.”

Lau was trained as a programmer and holds great affinity for taking a process-minded approach to business. He felt ICON’s challenge was not about topline sales and he began to search for more efficiencies in the facility. “Once I got my hands on the operations side, the process and all of that – [we previously had the] same level of sales, $10 million, for a while – our bottom line increased tremendously.”

ICON brought on a new customized ERP system, internally branded as Cyrious, and a much-needed scheduling system for what had become a very busy large-format shop. ICON also brought in a new Chief Financial Officer, Alex Christopoulos, who Lau credits with greatly improving cash flow and the company’s overall financial health.

Media evolution
Lau describes the years from 2005 to 2008 as a “pivotal time” for ICON as he and Evans also decided to stop producing trade work for other printers and instead sell direct into the commercial market. “Part of the improvement on our bottom line was we made a conscious decision to shift and go after end-user markets,” explains Lau. “If we look back right now, we could have a few chuckles over that. It was one of the best decisions we could have made.”

Around the same time, ICON’s future would be influenced by the arrival of significant developments in large-format digital imaging technologies with a new wave of UV-based inkjet systems. ICON threw out all of its older-generation, heavy-solvent inefficiencies and made significant investments in UV technology, which Lau also credits with improving the company’s bottom line. ICON’s attention to the bottom line through the latter half of the decade would soon prove critical as The Great Recession of 2008 fast approached, all but strangling print sales for months.

A year before the printing industry plunged into the throes of frozen marketing budgets, Lau points to the significance of another technological marvel on ICON’s future. “2007 was a pivotal year from a technology standpoint, because when the iPhone came out [it] launched wireless technology in my opinion,” he says. “With all of the apps, [Apple] launched a whole slew of development in wireless technology.”

The economic ecosystem that quickly developed around wireless technologies would serve as a catalyst for the growth in screen-based digital signage. Lau explains wireless technologies broke down barriers that had been fortified for years by the need to run so much cable and obtrusive hardware. Less than two years after the arrival of Apple’s iPhone, ICON purchased a two-person AV company called Gridcast in 2009, when digital signage was still very much in its infancy. ICON had previously worked with Gridcast on a project for the Bank of Montreal, which wanted to integrate a digital projection within a large banner with a cutout. “It went really well and that was another eureka moment with Gridcast,” recalls Lau, describing ICON’s first project to integrate both print and digital mediums.

“Gridcast was very AV-oriented – hang-and-bang hardware. We saw very quickly in the first year that the model wasn’t really going to be a sustainable model,” says Lau. “Not only did we develop it by feeding it through ICON’s customer base, we actually changed [it] into a consulting model.”

Multifaceted evolution
The Gridcast division, rebranded in December 2016 as ICON Media, has been a significant driver for the company. “Our business in Media is an annuity. We will charge you a three-year management deal,” says Christopoulos, as an example of how the company can work with a client to finance a network of in-store screens, while ICON is truly interested in ongoing content management services.

Christopoulos explains the company, to a much lesser extent, hopes to take the same approach with some of ICON Visual’s work, where they might provide a client with a free banner stand with a commitment to print work to cover it – ideally, changing out the print regularly – over the next several months. With The Bay, ICON Visual is also starting to print on magnetic sheets that can be applied to painted walls, speaking to the division’s growing attention on developing repeatable visual systems with clients. The continuing innovation in both ICON Visual and Media have developed a strong reputation south of the border, where the company now produces around seven percent of its work.

“[It isn’t] so much because we are a better printer. They have local guys down there. It was actually our Media division because they are a lot more proactive when it comes to new innovations,” says Lau. “Because they want to do new things with digital, they are very open-minded to talk about the other print things we offer. So that is how we have been using digital media, more as a way to penetrate organizations from the top down, as opposed to starting with procurement and working our way up.” ICON Media has been using Virtual Reality for almost two years to show clients, like Sport Chek’s CMO for example, what their stores will look like with large-format print.

As ICON Print is developed, the company plans to leverage strong C-Suite relationships to drive work onto litho presses. In fact, Lau envisions an emerging media procurement approach that will benefit the rebranded position of ICON’s three divisions: “I am hoping as more Millennials get into positions of power and decision-making, they are going to say, ‘Why do we need a separate print budget. This is a media budget. We need to line up all of our marketing together.’ I think those budgets are going to change. We are kind of placing a little bit of a bet that way.”

Under ICON’s new multifaceted media vision, Lau explains it is important to hold a true offset-printing presence beyond outsourcing. “We have only touched the surface of the excitement the Media division is going bring,” says Lau. “It is huge. The ICON rebranding of All Things Visual is going to take us to the next level.”

Wednesday, 08 February 2017
ICON Digital Productions Inc. has acquired Toronto Trade Printing, a well-known 20,000-square-foot operation running two 40-inch sheetfed offset presses less than four kilometers away from ICON’s 90,000-square-foot facility in Markham, Ontario. The purchase comes less than two months after ICON Digital underwent a rebranding effort in December 2016 to create three distinct divisions operating under the names of ICON Visual, ICON Media and ICON Print.

The ICON Visual division generates more than half of the parent company’s annual revenue, which in its most recent fiscal year amounted to just under $40 million, based on one of Canada’s most powerful large-format imaging infrastructures. ICON Visual, generating around 80 percent of its revenue through roll-fed Durst machines, traces its roots back to the company’s founding in 1995 as a pioneer in the display graphics sector.

ICON Media is responsible for managing national digital-signage networks for Blue Chip clients like Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as high-profile regional clients like Pearson Airport – way-finding screens – and Toronto’s Dundas Square. The division was established in 2009 after ICON purchased Gridcast and today works with clients to deploy signage networks with the ability to procure all of the necessary hardware, develop business plans and manage ever-changing content.

ICON Print is the third pillar of the company’s rebranding strategy, now focused on producing offset work in-house after it has been outsourcing such jobs for its client base. Last year alone, ICON oversaw the printing of more than 20-million direct-mail pieces in addition to a range of offset-produced marketing collateral. The company’s executive team spent the past several months looking at printing operations to purchase in the Greater Toronto Area.

With the acquisition of 25-year-old Toronto Trade, led by the printing expertise of President Kieron Pope and Vice President Steven Niles, ICON projects it will reach approximately $50 million in revenue by the end of its current fiscal year.

“We look at print not so much as old technology. We look at it as just another communications medium. In fact, our numbers tell us there is a lot of growth in print still,” says Juan Lau, President and CEO of ICON Digital, who co-founded the company in 1995 with business partners Peter Evans and Peter Yeung. “The last three or four years we kept looking at our financial statements and, ironically, the fastest growing service sector was commercial printing – and we were not even trying.”

Kieron Pope and Steven Niles are to remain in their leadership roles with the offset-printing operation. “This secures a bright future and legacy for our staff and customers and we couldn't be more excited to be part of a progressive organization like ICON,” said Pope, in a press release about the acquisition.
Friday, 03 February 2017
Somerset Graphics of Mississauga, Ontario, closed its doors on January 31 and entered receivership. The high-end commercial printing operation, well known across the Greater Toronto Area, was running out of a 20,000-square-foot facility, built by Jack and Beth Youngberg 37 years ago. Their two sons, Chris and Jeff, had been involved with the company for 21 and 17 years, respectively.

“Beth and I always agreed that we never wanted our business to become a hobby,” says Jack Youngberg, when asked why the company was shut down. “To continue to succeed in the current market was a factor in our decision. Our industry has become very competitive and commoditized.”

Somerset’s 29-inch, 6-colour Kormori HUV press, which was installed in mid-2013, has been sold to an unclosed printer. It was equipped with automatic plate changers and wash-up systems, with an ability to be used for both conventional printing or UV. Youngberg explains they are working on the sale of all other assets.

Youngberg explains they did not sell Somerset’s book of business, providing each account representative with the opportunity to maintain their current accounts and take them where ever they go.

“The industry is saturated. Everyone is chasing the same dollars. Supply outweighs demand,” says Youngberg. “The industry for the most part has been a very exciting wonderful area to work in. Somerset's employees, clients and suppliers have all contributed to our success.”
Monday, 16 January 2017
Founded 35 years ago, MGI Digital Technology has made a major impact on the world of printing with innovative digital printing and finishing technologies for enhancing the power of print.

MGI Digital Technology invests approximately 20 percent of its annual sales back into research and development.This astonishing number speaks to the company’s origins just outside of Paris, France, and why it has raised the bar amid  what are now some of the industry’s mostpowerful technology suppliers driving the growth of digital printing.

PrintAction spoke with Kevin Abergel, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at MGI USA, about the company’s mantra of innovation.

How was MGI founded?
Basically it was 1982 when my uncle was fresh out of the military where he had worked on anti-aircraft missile technology and he had learned a lot when it was still really early days for computers. When you look back further, actually, my grandfather was an offset pressman his whole life and on weekends in the summer his three sons all went into that environment to make some extra money. The three brothers who created MGI went into my grandfather’s shop and really learned the business from a traditional standpoint, which is why we have always had an affinity for commercial printers, because basically it is our bloodline – it is where we come from.

Has invention always been in your family?
My great grandfather, on my mother’s side, actually has the first patent for the first pneumatic feeder – 1925 or 1927 – for an offset press and it is up in our offices. We have a very strong and rich history in printing that runs through the Abergel veins. The first products MGI came out with were not necessarily in the print industry. They were some of the first computer programs for accounting, also for hospitals, big old floppy disks. That is really where we got started and then in 1991 we developed our first press – with a three-man team that developed a roll of basically Bristol paper that was being printed on digitally with a cutter just making business cards. It was called the Mastercard.

And then the next generation of Mastercard all of a sudden it went from one colour to two colours to four colours, while also going from a business-card format width to 8 ½ x 11, then 12 x 18, and then we were doing plastics. We have really gone through 13 or 14 generations of engines in our history on the digital press side. That is really how we built up the business from nothing to a business today with a market-cap above 200 million Euros. And now we have partners like Konica Minolta, which really raised the profile higher.

What is the Konica and MGI relationship?
The Konica Minolta and MGI relationship goes back 20 years actually… The base MGI business model has been to use initial Konica technology, whether it is inkjet heads or toner-based print engines, and sup-up those engines. Two years ago we really started to get a closer relationship when Konica Minolta invested 10 percent into MGI – we are a publically listed company – and as a result of that we developed a smaller version of the varnish and iFOIL, called the JETvarnish 3DS, exclusively for their sales network.

Because of the success that we had in that first year of bringing this product to market, Konica was now wanting to distribute the entire MGI portfolio and it was at that point in time that they went from 10 percent to 41 percent, which is a controlling interest in MGI where we have actually launched a new distribution agreement. Konica Minolta is now globally going to market and sell our entire lines of products. From a sales standpoint, it gives us much more visibility and from a service standpoint a much wider infrastructure.

How much has MGI grown in 10 years?
From 2008 to 2016, we grew something like 500 percent during some of the most difficult times in the printing industry. I think when times get tough people need to invest in something that brings a level of differentiation or innovation, so that they can actually compete on applications, not on price. That has really been our mantra this whole time. I do not care about how many pages you are printing per month. How much are you making on each one of those pages? If you are only making four or five percent that is not a good business model, but now if you can go to 60, 70 percent it is a different story.

Why is MGI’s new Artificial Intelligence SmartScanner, AIS, significant?
If I made a die or a screen, for example, I would never really be able to register any of what I am doing to a digital print for the simple reason that digital print moves page to page. The image registration maybe is going to be a little to the left or right, a couple of pixels up, a little skewed – every page is going to come out basically in a different position on the sheet.

So the most important thing is being able to move up, down, left, right and custom fit every single page by comparing it to the original PDF of the print file and seeing where the moves are. The key point here is that AIS is going to be creating – using artificial intelligence – a topographical map of your print. By comparing that live with the actual PDF of the print file, it is going to be able to stretch out all those points where maybe there is high ink density that shrunk the paper or maybe you laminated it so you have a severe slip, stretch or a fan. In screen printing maybe it would take me 20 minutes to stretch my screens out manually to get my fit right and I have to spend a lot of sheets to get my fit correct to be able to make up for all of those deformations once it is out of the press.

The scanner does away with all of that. Number one, your first sheet out is going to be perfect. Number two, you do not need that professional eye to understand where your stretch is in your sheet. It is all being done automatically as touch-less as possible. When you mix that in with the variable data barcode reading system… Not only will it varnish and foil the right image, but it is actually going to custom fit and custom register each one of those sheets as they are moving through. It has never been done before.

How much data is being processed to leverage the AIS topographical maps?
That was one of our biggest problems. If you look at the actual computer system that is just running the scanner alone it is basically doing five teraflops of information per second. It is a lot of information being crunched to be able to pull up the right file, trace the TIFF from the PDF, then be able to compare that file live to the actual print and be able to do all of the modifications automatically. For me it is the coolest technology we have ever done and we have done some pretty cool things.

What MGI technologies excite you most?
I also think that the fact that we have a B1 JETvarnish and a roll-to-roll JETvarnish or the fact that we are actually putting foil down with toner are all really fascinating products. I am most proud of the [AIS] scanner, because I know how much work went into it, almost four years of nonstop development and to see it actually work, knowing that it has been the unicorn. That was the codename for it, The Unicorn, because everybody was talking about it internally and hoping we would one day see it work.

What MGI technology is having the most market penetration?
Right now, the Meteor is having a large amount of success because, at the end of the day, it is still a digital press that can do all of the commodity stuff. But then you turn on the iFOIL and you start running envelopes or plastics or PVCs, or long formats, and put the foil down and it suddenly boosts your added value.

On the JETvarnish side, I would say that 95 percent of the people who are buying this equipment are getting into varnish and foil for the first time in their history. So from a market penetration standpoint, we are having more placements with the Meteor, but the JETvarnish is significantly up compared to previous years because I think the market is finally starting to accept digital embellishment. Out of all the JETvarnish products, we are having an incredible amount of success with our B1 JETvarnish and iFOIL… it really allows us to go after a whole new customer segment which is the packaging converter.

Is packaging ready for MGI’s digitization?
Packaging wasn’t one of our priorities. For the past 35 years, we have focused on commercial printers, but the packaging guys are the ones who came to us and pulled us into that market. The more we did research, the more it made sense for us to develop a 29-inch JETvarnish to be able to do those XL sheets and today that is our number-one selling unit and that is for the packaging convertors. A lot of commercial printers are trying to find ways into digital packaging as well, because, according to Infotrends, there will be 41 percent growth over the next two years in digital folding cartons. I do not know if you could show me one other statistic in our industry that is as incredible as that 41 percent.

How is MGI technology suited for labels?
I read a stat from LPC that said by 2020 three out of four new label presses will be digital. Most importantly, [with MGI technology] it not going to cost you a lot of money to varnish and foil jobs. It is going to be a low-cost job which you can still charge a premium for. The brands are the ones who are pushing it that way, which is a big part of what we do to educate the brands on the advantages of digital and being able to do this kind of work.

Monday, 05 December 2016
Canon Canada at the start of December hosted a couple dozen journalists for a 2-hour tour of its new 180,000-square-foot headquarters in Brampton, Ontario, home to the company’s domestic business interests in consumer, medical, security and print-production imaging.

Built on more than 18 acres, the open, Kyosei-inspired interior of building is highlighted by a 5,000-square-foot interactive space that showcases the past, present and future of Canon innovation. From Canon cameras, printers and projectors to medical imaging equipment, copiers and production systems, the showroom will house the newest Canon products for customers and prospective customers. The company’s printing technologies occupy the majority of space in the showroom, including systems like the imagePRESS 10000VP and Oce VarioPRint 6320 Ultra+.

While print-production remains a major pillar of Canon’s business, second only to the company’s historic consumer-imaging sector, the new Canadian headquarters is designed to support its growing interests in both security and medical imaging systems. In 2014, Canon surprised the security industry with its acquisition of Milestone Systems, one of the world’s leading providers of video management software, and then in February 2015 spent approximately $2.8 billion to acquire security-systems giant Axis Communications.

Located at the corner of Mississauga Road and Steeles Avenue West, the new building brings together more than 400 Canon employees who will play a major role in driving the company’s diverse imaging interests across Canada.
Friday, 11 November 2016
More than 200 people gathered last night to celebrate some of the best printing in the country at the 11th Canadian Printing Awards gala, held at the Palais Royale on Toronto’s waterfront. Dozens of awards were presented to printing companies and technology suppliers from across Canada. The winners are notified beforehand that they are finalists, winning a Gold, Silver or Bronze Award, but were not informed of the award level until last night at the gala.

The printing categories winners were determined by a judging panel of 11 industry leaders, who spent a full day analyzing and ranking the entries through a blind scoring system. The judges consider issues like printing process, run length and repeatability across submitted samples. At the end of the day, they collect their favourite projects and together debate which single entry, across all categories, should be awarded Best of Show. Finalists in the year’s Best of Show discussion included work from Friesens, MET Fine Printers and PDI Group (two submissions), with the award going to Montreal’s PDI Group for its production of the Cartise Autumn 2016 catalogue.

As previously announced, PrintAction’s 2016 Industry Achievement winners included: John A. Young Lifetime Achievement Award, Hadi Mahabadi, former Director, Xerox Research Centre of Canada, Mississauga, ON; Printing Leader of the Year, Jamie Barbieri, President, PDI Group Inc., Montreal, QC; Emerging Leader of the Year, Todd Cober, Vice President, Cober, Kitchener, ON; and Community Leader of the Year, Jeff Ekstein, President, Willow Printing Group Ltd., Concord, ON.

The following sponsors were critical in the success of the 2016 Canadian Printing Awards, including: Platinum sponsor, Veritiv; Gold sponsors, Canon, HP, Huber Group, KBA, Kodak, Manroland Sheetfed and Sun Chemical; and Silver sponsors Domtar, Fujifilm, Heidelberg and Spicers.

The 2016 Canadian Printing Award recipients include:

2016 Best of Show
Cartise Autumn 2016
PDI Group

Self Promotion, printing company
Gold: Hemlock Holiday Wrap
Hemlock Printers

Silver: C.J. Heavy Metal
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Bronze: Greeting Card Box Set
Priority Printing, being accept by Heidelberg’s Don Robinson

Self Promotion, technology supplier
Gold: Supreme Piece Love
Spicers Canada, printed by C.J. Graphics

Silver: The Paper Loop
Rolland Enterprises

Bronze: Innovation in Motion
MGI Digital Technology, printed in-house by MGI technicians

Brochures & Booklets, offset
Gold: Hakai Fishing Club
Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging

Silver: Lexus RX 2017
Colour Innovations

Bronze: Cressey Bellevue
Hemlock Printers

Brochures & Booklets, digital
Gold: Seneca Fashion Resource Centre
Colour Innovations

Silver: Blue Dragon, The East Made Easy
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Bronze: barometer
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Books, hardcover offset
Gold: Montreal 375 BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
Friesens

Silver: Making Friends Was My Business
Friesens

Bronze: Audian Art Museum, Mexican Modernists
Hemlock Printers

Books, softcover offset
Gold: Cirque du Soleil, Luzia Souvenir Programme BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
PDI Group

Silver: The Age of Audacity, Calgary University
MET Fine Printers

Bronze: Horseshoe Bay
MET Fine Printers

Books, digital
Gold: J Vair Anniversary
McAra Unicom

Silver: Flowers In Transition
Friesens

Bronze: Silverhorn, Discovered Naturally
McAra Unicom

Web Offset
Gold: Moon Handbooks, Bermuda
Friesens

Business & Annual Reports    
Gold: ATB Financial, Long Story Short
McAra Unicom

Silver: National Gallery of Canada
The Lowe-Martin Group

Bronze: Alberta Central Credit Union
McAra Unicom

Direct Mail    
Gold: Spring Auto Event
The Lowe-Martin Group

Silver: Hudson's Bay Olympic and Paralympic Teams
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Bronze: Mercedes Benz Welcome
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Variable Data Imaging
Gold: USC Season Ticket Package and Magazine
McAra Unicom

Magazines
Gold: Mountain Life 2016
Hemlock Printers

Gold: Sharp Book for Men
St. Joseph Communications

Silver: Nuvo Autumn 2016
Colour Innovations

Bronze: DesignEdge Canada
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Calendars
Gold: Inuit Art 2017
Colour Innovations

Silver: Friesens Engagement Diary
Friesens

Bronze: Ultimate Sailing 2016
Friesens

Labels, offset
Gold: Wayward Distillation House, Unruly Gin
Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging

Silver: Star Trek Prestige Stamp Booklet
The Lowe-Martin Group

Bronze: Crown Royal Black Label
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Labels, flexography or gravure
Gold: Sparks
Artcraft Label

Silver: Le Boating Club
Artcraft Label

Bronze: Lakeview Cellars Merlot
ASL Print FX

Flexography
Gold: Cavendish Farms Rustic Russets
Farnell Packaging

Silver: Vigoro Organics
Farnell Packaging

Rigid Packaging
Gold: Feel Packaging
Hemlock Printers

Silver: Cadbury Crème Eggs Package Family
Ellis Packaging

Bronze: Forty Creek Founder’s Reserve
Jones Packaging

Catalogues
Gold: Cartise Autumn 2016 BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
PDI Group

Gold: Nike Vision Running BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
MET Fine Printers

Silver: Filson, Smokey the Bear
Hemlock Printers

Bronze: Holt Renfrew Holiday
St. Joseph Communications

Business Cards
Gold: Canadian Food Aficionado
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: Oak 49
Pacific Bindery Services

Bronze: Gryphon & Rock
McAra Unicom

Stationery & Invitations    
Gold: Art Gallery of Ontario, Midnight Massive Invitation
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: TNS Invitation
MET Fine Printers

Bronze: Canadian Opera Company, Centre Stage Gala Invitation
Colour Innovations

Finishing
Gold: Ringling Bros Circus Extreme
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: Flowers In Transition
Friesens

Bronze: Daydreamer Anthropologie Candle Toppers
Pacific Bindery Services

Specialty Project
Gold: Nike Vision Running Easel Stand
MET Fine Printers

Silver: Star Trek Prestige Stamp Booklet
The Lowe-Martin Group

Silver: TNS Invitation
MET Fine Printers

Bronze: Union Leasing Welcome Package
Wellington Printworks

Specialty Effects
Gold: USC Ticket Package
McAra Unicom

Gold: Canadian Food Aficionado Media Kit
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: Granville HOPS + DARK
Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging

Bronze: Venice Lift
Ellis Packaging

Most Environmentally Progressive Printing Project
Gold: Capilano University 2017 View Book
Hemlock Printers

Silver: Atlantic Salmon Vol 65 No 1
The Lowe-Martin Group

Bronze: TD Friends of the Environment Foundation Calendar
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Most Environmentally Progressive Technology Company    
Gold: HP Canada

Most Environmentally Progressive Printing Company
Gold: The Lowe-Martin Group, Ottawa, Ontario

Silver: Hemlock Printers, Burnaby, British Columbia

Bronze: Symcor, Mississauga, Ontario

Most Progressive Printing Technology, software
Gold: PRISMAsync Colour Print Server
Canon Canada

Silver: Dynamic Press Profiler
ColorXTC

Most Progressive Printing Technology, electrophotography/toner
Gold: Canon ImagePRESS C10000VP
Canon Canada

Most Progressive Printing Technology, inkjet
Gold: PageWide Technology for Large Format Production
HP Canada

Silver: Océ VarioPrint i300
Canon Canada

Most Progressive Printing Process, packaging
Gold: AG Hair High Build Gloss
Hemlock Printers

Most Progressive Printing Process, offset
Gold: UV Grit Coating
Hemlock Printers
Friday, 04 November 2016
Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, based in Plymouth, Michigan, has acquired the Canadian franchise organization KKP Canada, based in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The agreement adds 50 franchise locations to Alliance Franchise Brands’ portfolio, which includes more than 600 locations in North America and the United Kingdom.

The purchase of KKP Canada effectively triples the Canadian presence of Alliance Franchise Brands. “This represents a sound investment in the continued growth of our network,” said Mike Marcantonio, CEO, Alliance Franchise Brands. “Our organization began in the graphics communications industry with the quick print concepts of Speedy Printing in Canada and American Speedy Printing in the U.S.

“Over the past 40 years, we have aggressively invested in the areas with the most potential for long-term gains, including technology, signage, digital and print communications,” continued Marcantonio. “With the acquisition of KKP Canada, our network of businesses is 630 strong with annual revenues approaching a half billion dollars.”

The company’s brands include Allegra, Speedy Printing, image360, Insty-Prints, Signs by Tomorrow, Signs Now, Zippy Print (also Canadian), and KKP franchises in the United States.

“Our franchise members have been serving their markets in Canada for over 30 years,” said Kevin Cushing, President of the Marketing & Print Division for Alliance. “We have our own corporate-owned location in Windsor, Ontario, and 25 franchised locations across the country prior to having KKP Canada join our network. We believe this move will support greater resource deployment for the success of all of our members and better partnership opportunities with Canadian suppliers."

KKP Canada CEO and Vice-Chair Gigi Harding is to remain active in KKP Canada through the transition as an advisor.
Monday, 31 October 2016
Asia Pulp & Paper, a relatively young paper maker founded in 1979, has grown to become one of the world’s largest integrated pulp and paper entities with a raft of new environmental targets and products in the Canadian market.

Asia Pulp & Paper  Group in 2013 introduced its Forest Conservation Policy as a large-scale environmental initiative based on zero deforestation.  The policy would require a range of investments by  Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) with a goal to put an immediate end to sourcing pulpwood materials from suppliers involved with natural forest clearance.

The company, with its primary roots in both China and Indonesia, subsequently engaged leading environmental organizations like Rainforest Alliance, Deltares (a research institute) and Greenpeace to evaluate this unprecedented Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). APP opened up its operations to allow these organizations to track its FCP implementation progress.

Over the next two years, APP continued to work on its environmental stance with initiatives like the world’s first-ever retirement of commercial plantations on tropical peatland – some 7,000 acres – and a program to restore and conserve one million hectares of forest across Indonesia, primarily within the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem, home to the endangered Sumatran Tiger. These massive initiatives were in response to mounting environmental criticisms leveled against APP over its practices.

As a result of facing the criticism head on, APP has invested millions of dollars into establishing a stronger environmental position and, at the same time, reorganized its operations into one of the most modern structures across the paper world.

While most other paper makers are running legacy equipment, often shutting down equipment based on unmanageable fluctuations in supply and demand, APP over the past 10 years has brought on line three new paper machines designed with technical flexibility to respond to new market demands.

The company, driven by its own unique eucalyptus plantations, is now seen as the world’s most vertically integrated paper producers. This position has allowed APP’s Canadian operation, focused solely on moving paper as opposed to diversifying into equipment distribution, to reengage to domestic printing industry and become one of Canada’s most powerful paper suppliers.  

New Canadian model
APP’s new direction in Canadian printing primarily began in 2010 when David Chin became President of APP Canada. One of his primary goals was to become a preferred paper supplier to Canada’s Tier One printing operations. This would require new levels of market penetration for the company, which had traditionally focused on the retail market as a paper merchant. Chin instead began to build from APP’s long presence in the Canadian market to establish direct relationships with printers, as opposed to working through distributors.

“We are not newcomers in the market. We have been here since 1998 so we are a very stable entity and we also have ample stock. If I am not mistaken we are the largest importer for commercial printing paper in Canada and we also have the most inventory of commercial paper in Canada,” says Chin. “We have made some giant leaps with Tier One customers, the top 10 printers in Canada, mainly because of our service and paper quality.”     

Chin explains APP Canada purposely hires local people, as opposed to transferring people from overseas operations, to help build its presence in the domestic market. “We are truly a Canadian company. We are growing the Canadian economy and not just growing in Asia.”

Much of APP Canada’s growth in the commercial printing market over the past six years can be tied to the operation’s ability to leverage the complete production integration of its parent company, which has spent the past decade building one of the world’s most modern end-to-end paper operations.

“Our advantage is really integration all of our pulping facilities are a short drive away from our production facilities, if not on site,” says Ian Lifshitz, Director of Sustainability and Public Outreach, Americas, Asia Pulp & Paper Group. “So frankly we are able to get a competitive cost advantages.”

Lifshitz notes APP does source some pulp on the open market, typically based on product type, but for the most part APP has emerged as an internally driven global operation that has been outpacing the investments of its competitors.

“When we look at investments in new machines, and I am not talking about a converting machine, rather a paper-making machine, it has been a number of years since we have seen any investment in the North American market,” says Lifshitz. “When we look at what APP has done alone in the last 10 years we have brought on three giant machines – we are talking about $12 billion of investment.”

In China, APP brought on what is now the world’s largest board machine housed in a building resembling a large airplane hanger to accommodate what amounts to a circular machine measuring around one kilometre in length. “We see our potential on a global scale in terms of investment in technology… and I think that is huge for APP in terms of its future within the industry,” says Lifshitz.

New market realities
Lifshitz explains the investment in three modern paper machines allows APP to evolve product offerings as its printing-industry customers are also evolving, which may include providing coated or uncoated sheets, copy paper, stationery or printable packaging materials.

 “APP can look at the growth segments and expand our portfolio. That is a key to our success,” he says.  “We have an advantage in machine flexibility because we are able to produce jumbo rolls… we are able to adapt our machine technology with different levels of pulp, different levels of coating, whatever the customers demands on a full run.”

Whereas legacy paper production operations are primarily focused on shipping rolls out for further cutting and converting, APP is able to do single roll production and adjust its machines based on customer demand and this affords significant production savings.

Flexible, full paper production integration combined with sourcing its own pulp from plantations allows APP to turn savings into stable global paper pricing. This is a key advantage particularly over the past few years when printers have seen significant fluctuations in their paper pricing.

APP’s installation of new paper machines over the past decade are also supported equally aggressive investments around becoming a more environmentally progressive operation. “APP Canada sources from Indonesia and China and, through plantation development and sustainable efforts, we have really been able to take a leadership position to provide what the marketplace wants,” says Lifshitz. “We see customers looking for sustainable paper making and environmental credentials and we are able to provide that now... Over the past five years, the commitment on sustainability has really changed our value proposition and we now really have become a definer in terms of zero deforestation.”

The plantation model employed by APP, which allows it to avoid clearing forests, relies on a special fast-growing eucalyptus genus, with other farmed species including poplar and acacia. The APP concessions in China alone represent approximately half of the country’s total pulpwood plantations.

“The challenge for us, because we are truly integrated, is that we have to work with our suppliers and our suppliers’ suppliers to ensure they maintain the same commitments that we do in our supply… to ensure that all of our materials that arrive at our mill are harvested sustainability and follow our policies of zero deforestation,” explains Lifshitz.

Based on years of research and develops, APP’s eucalyptus trees can now be harvested and planted in five-year cycles. This model is driven by APP controlled nurseries, including its primary Hainan location that produces more than 100 million plantlets each year that are then transplanted into APP’s managed plantations – a process that is crucial to APP’s goal of zero deforestation.

“We are an integrated company all of the way from pulp manufacturing to retail and that sets us apart from the rest of the competitors,” says Chin. “Because we are fully integrated, we can go all of the way into the pulp price so we can offer more stable available pricing, which gives us more options.”

Chin explains these options afforded by APP’s full production integration directly relates to the growing number of paper varieties it now supplies to the Canadian printing market. This becomes a vital asset as a coast-to-coast operation, with facilities stretching from Quebec to Vancouver, employing around 75 people.     

Chin explains this position is also supported by the fact that APP is solely focused on the paper needs of its customers, as many of its competitors have diversified into selling equipment and industrial supplies. “Selling our paper is what we have been very successful at over the last few years,” says Chin, “and I think for the next few years we will stick with that.”