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A Touch Of Magic

Every time you visit an exhibition stand, you always come across interesting personalized promotional items displayed by the company. One company supplying such interesting promotional items is Magic Trading. Magic Trading LLC is a leading supplier of promotional gift articles in the Middle East. The company is also involved in the trading of printing machines and ink supplies. The company celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. MTC has been operating in the GCC as well as doing good business in Africa.  Sina Haghi, the Managing Director of Magic Trading spoke exclusively to ME Printer regarding the heat transfer side of the business, various product lines within Magic Trading and the new lanyard printing factory.

Magic Trading is primarily popular for its promotional items. But the company also has a strong and established division of supplying printing machines especially the heat press printers.

Sina Haghi, the Managing Director of Magic TradingInspite of the advent of direct to garment printing machines, heat press printers are still widely used across sectors. Haghi explains in detail about the heat press printers. He said, “In the heat transfer side of the business, with the inkjet or laser, we print on a special paper. This special paper is placed in the heat press on the shirt or garment. In this process, the printer is regular but the paper is special.”

“There is another process which is called sublimation. In this process, the paper is not special. The paper just has to release the ink properly. Here, the ink is the special part. With this ink, when it is printed on the paper and heated in the heat press, the heat from the solid state becomes gas and the gas goes into the hard surface such as aluminum or ceramic mug or different surfaces that are coated for sublimation purpose. Basically the coating for sublimation is polyester. Sublimation can work on any polyester fabric. It can work on any hard surface such as metal or any surface coated with polyester.”

MTC is creating a niche for itself in the market by not only selling equipment but also offering a gamut of services to its clients. Haghi stated, “In the printing equipment section, we sell the knowhow and technology. We provide complete package to the customer. For example, if someone comes to us for printing a ceramic mug, we provide them with printer, ink, paper and the mug. We give them everything they need to do this printing. But if someone doesn’t want to do the job themselves, we do have the printing division where we do their job.”

Though MTC has two core divisions with promotional and corporate gifts and printing supplies, the company is more active in the promotional and corporate gifts business and branding of those. Haghi added, “So we do lot of printing work in our workshop. That is our cash cow. We do more development in that section. But the heat press business is an established division. It is not high growth section. We do not put more effort into it. But we have our clients who are coming regularly for consumables. All the small print shops who have purchased our heat presses, come regularly to buy few packets of transfer papers to do their jobs. We do have regular, continuous and stable business in the heat press division.”

Few years back, with the introduction of direct to garment printers, everybody thought that the heat transfer business will vanish. But in reality, it did not happen. These printers failed to impress and did not take off the way it was expected. MTC stuck with the heat press machines and did not divert and purchase any direct to garment printers. 

He said, “All these printers are not production printers. They are good for making one sample. One can imagine how much time it takes to print one shirt. Sometimes it can take 15 to 20 minutes. For example, for printing on the black shirt, you have to print on one or two layers of white and again print that on the shirt. This process takes around 20 to 30 minutes to print one shirt. For us, who are in the corporate business, we get orders for 500 to 2000 shirts. This printer cannot satisfy our requirement. When you are putting so much investment in this printer to do 2 t-shirts per hour, you have to put high charge for the shirt.”

“In reality, the ink is expensive and it is very time consuming. It is also prone to troubles with the printer such as head clogging which makes it unpopular in the market. For example, if you have a shop in the mall and they have to wait for half an hour for one shirt, it is practical. You can charge them 100 dhs. But to make it commercially viable and sell it at 2 dhs or 3 dhs in our kind of a business, such printers do not serve our purpose and are more suited for retail model of business.”

Different kinds of printers are used for different fabrics. There is no one solution that fits all. Usually, when there is a huge quantity printing involved for a single color or two jobs, it is not worth to do it by heat transfer. In such cases, printers opt for screen printing. Screen printing is still very prevalent worldwide. As witnessed at Fespa 2015 in Munich, Germany, there was a huge display of screen printers. There were very few direct to garment printers. Printers are today making smarter moves and looking for more viable and commercial options for their businesses rather than jumping on the technology wagon and making unsound investment. 

A latest addition to the MTC’s line of printing is the lanyard printing. MTC has purchased a small Italian manufacturer Monti’s roll heat transfer machine for lanyard printing. The machine prints rolls of lanyard.  Haghi stated, “With a roll printer, we can print rolls of lanyard and stitch it after that.”

Marketing and promotional activities in this line of business is extremely vital to stand out among the ever growing competition. Sina Haghi shared the unique promotional strategy with us. He said that they mostly deal with re-sellers; most of them are ad agencies who buy from them. Every week they have a different job for a different client.

MTC has re-seller tools to help the re-sellers sell their products like providing them catalogues with their names and creating websites for them but sells MTC’s products. Haghi added, “The Company has a system of giving samples to them. So the re-sellers feel comfortable working with us. You can say that all these ad agencies are our sales people in the market because each one of them has at least 10 or 20 clients.”

“When we have 500 of these guys working for us, of all of a sudden we have 10,000 customers. However, we do try to use all means of advertising. We advertise in the magazines, updates our website regularly and do online marketing. We also advertise in African trade magazines.”

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