Karl Belafi Jr. / Vice President / KBR Graphics Canada / Laval, Québec
KBR Graphics in mid-2016 moved its primary operations into a new modern facility in Laval, Quebec. The move came as the company was celebrating its 40th year in business, as one of Canada’s most respected and important technology distributors.
The new Laval facility not only signals KBR’s growing presence in Quebec but its expanding national footprint, highlighted by new technicians and sales reps, as well as a new agreement to distribute RYOBI MHI Graphic Technology (RMGT) sheetfed presses across the country. KBR has also been growing its presence in Ontario with a range of notable postpress installations – leveraging its Standard/Horizon relationship. PrintAction asked KBR VP Karl Belafi for his insight on Quebec’s printing community and technological trends in the industry.
Why is print still a good industry to be in?
KB: Print is an ever-evolving industry. It will always be the most trustworthy form of marketing, and with all the new available technologies, marketing professionals can easily find new and untraditional ways to get noticed. Looking towards the future, we are so excited to see the beginnings of so many new innovations that will continue to drive the industry forward.
How is Quebec’s printing market unique?
KB: Boldness, creativity and an innovative spirit are the hallmarks of Quebec and proves to be an interesting market. Quebecers are forward thinkers who are keen on evolving. We noticed that our Quebec clients look for innovative technologies and are open to trying new things.
What is the greatest strength of Quebec’s printing community?
KB: The relationships in the Quebec printing community are remarkable. What’s especially distinct is how different printers regularly assemble and take pride to come together for the greater good of the industry. Some of the events include the Gutenberg Gala, the Association québécoise de l’industrie de l’imprimé : AQII and the Institut des communications graphiques et de l’imprimabilité, ICI.
How has your move to Laval helped?
KB: KBR’s expansion and move to a new high-tech facility in Laval in 2016 has definitely improved our position in the industry. Our greater visibility to the public, bright new showroom, and larger space has helped enhance our brand.
What type of capital equipment investment is taking place in Quebec?
KB: Automation and ease of operation have become critical to the bottom line of printers. We have seen in Quebec a rise in the investment of automated finishing equipment as well as multi-function systems such as slitter/cutter/creasers.
Why is offset still an important?
KB: The sale of offset presses is once again on the rise. With the introduction of automated LED-UV equipped presses, today’s printers are taking advantage of instant curing for finish-ready prints, low energy cost savings and ultra-fast make-readies, in order to close the gap between digital and offset – much better profit margins.
What new tech impresses you most?
KB: The most impressive technology for us comes in the finishing department. Standard/Horizon, whom KBR has been representing for the past 30 years, has in recent years introduced a dual cylinder rotary die-cutter. The RD-4055 is designed to meet the growing demand for short-run die-cut product, with the ability to die-cut, crease, perforate, slit, hole punch, and round corner in one process for digital and offset sheets… it can easily produce a range of finishing, especially short-run packaging.
What key new partnerships are important for KBR?
KB: Our new partnership with RMGT has been especially important for our growth in Canada. Specifically, RMGT’s 9 series offset presses that have continued to expand in the world’s market share. In recent years, there has been over 50 RMGT 9 series presses installed in North America as well as more than 700 installed worldwide.
Here in Quebec, we were the first in North America to install an LED-UV press. In 2018, KBR has already sold three new RMGT 9 series presses that will be installed in the coming months.
How much has KBR grown over the past few years, in Quebec but also nationally?
KB: KBR has been one of the leading suppliers of print and print finishing solutions in Quebec for 40 years. Over the past 10 years, we have expanded our reach to the Ontario markets with the addition of a sales and technical service team.
Today, KBR holds exclusive rights for many top brands for the entire country. We are now in the process of expanding our reach by implementing sales and service teams in most major Canadian cities in order to offer local and quick service.
This Q&A was originally published in the May 2018 issue of PrintAction, now available online.
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