Regional TrendsTopics

Gallus Sees Great Opportunities Ahead For Label Printers

Ferdinand Rüesch, Owner and Vice-Chairman of Gallus and his wife came visiting Dubai recently, where they spent time to meet their customers, partners and distributors in the region. ME Printer Magazine met Ferdinand and had a tête-á-tête with him on the history of Gallus, about label printing, their relationship with Heidelberg and more.

Gallus, which manufactures label, folding carton and screen printing machines, was founded by the late grandfather of Ferdinand Rüesch in 1923. Initially, the company started manufacturing weights and balances and later, in what Ferdinand explains as a turning point in the journey of Gallus, they started manufacturing printers. He explains, “It was during a train journey, that my grandfather stumbled upon the possibility of making printers. Initially we made machines that printed tags and tickets and also offered repairing services for printing machines.”

“We progressed to make machines that printed all kinds of tags and then during the World War moved into making labels for food stuffs. We were also involved in doing punch cards for IBM. We have been a step ahead at each development. When pressure sensitive material was developed, Gallus improvised by introducing self adhesive material on label presses.”

He continued, “In 1956, my father took over from my grandfather and later in 1991, the baton was passed to me.  It was during 1999 that Heidelberg saw that there is a market for packaging and labels and realized that it’s important for them to have a foothold in this market. So, they joined Gallus by buying 30% of our shares. The remaining 70% are held entirely by Gallus.”

Ferdinand observed that Gallus, a family owned business, is very close to its customers.  “We have our personal touch in everything that we do. That’s why we visit a lot of customers in order to understand their needs.”

Rapport with Heidelberg

Detailing about their relationship with Heidelberg, he said, “Today we export 89% of our products. From the beginning, Gallus has had a strong presence in Europe, Australia and America and our success has been mainly due to Heidelberg. Like Gallus has established itself in the label industry, Heidelberg has also gained its name in the printing industry. They have really helped us to develop this market.”

Heidelberg represents Gallus in the Gulf countries, Iran, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Russia among others. Ferdinand adds in, “Depending upon the market, we effectively channelize our cooperation with Heidelberg to reach out to our customers. Heidelberg has a very professional approach, and it is evident in the Middle East region. We are better off with having to deal with an organization like Heidelberg that has good connections and sought out reputation among printing companies.”

“In developed countries, where they use specialized printers, Gallus has a strong foothold. While in developing markets, printers are more familiar with Heidelberg and they approach us through them.”

Explaining their relationship as a learning experience, Ferdinand says that though both the companies are on completely different spheres, in terms of the products they make, they complement each other very well.

Foray into Label World

Ferdinand opines that though there are a lot of printers available in the market, fine quality printing is provided by only a few. “For a perfect printing quality, a printer should have precise control of the machine and the assembly should be in order.”

Regarding their appetite for innovation, Ferdinand observes that only if there’s balance there is success. “If you don’t push yourself to the next level then you will stand still and if there are no innovations then you won’t make any progress. In 1995, Gallus was the first company to develop servo motors in printing machines. Today we have machines that can read the pressure applied on the plate and the cylinder of the press.”

Commercial printers are now exploring into new realms, and many have shown their interest towards label printing. Ferdinand says, “I believe that label printing is still a very interesting niche for a commercial printer. We have the strength and know how to take an offset printer and guide him through the process of label making. Often an offset printer finds it difficult when he initially forays into the label world. A printer needs to have an open mind to understand the different combinations and materials used in making labels. They have to get acquainted with more than a hundred varieties of label materials, inks, glues and varnishes to get a feel of the market. It’s a tremendous but interesting learning process.”

Business Interests 

Gallus stepped into folding carton business in 2006 when they acquired folding carton press manufacturing company, BHS. Reasoning the decision, Ferdinand says, “We strongly believe in our core competencies. We have complete understanding of ink line manufacturing and BHS was good with folding carton machines. If we don’t have the knowhow then it will take a long time for developing it in-house. By shaking hands with BHS we have combined our knowledge to enter into a new area with much ease.”

Ferdinand says that their screen printing machines are built on a modular concept. “Our machines are flexible enough to meet the future demands of our customers. We manufacture the machine, the print head and the material. So the customer gets everything from under a roof.”

Heidelberg offers its own line of label printers under Linoprint brand. At first sight there seems to be a conflict of interest between Heidelberg and Gallus when it comes to label market but Ferdinand explains how digital and conventional cater to different worlds.  “For runs of less than 2000 meter length, printing digital is economical but if it’s more than that then it’s better to go conventional. Let’s say if a company wants 200 labels and the digital printer can’t make the said quantity and can’t provide options like varnish, cold foiling etc, then you lose the advantage of printing on a digital machine. Nowadays we are seeing that the breakeven is coming down in conventional printing. Printing is a combination of processes and in order to be successful you have to buy the right equipment and follow the right printing process. Label printers have a better chance to be successful, if they understand what they are making.”

He adds, “Digital is growing and certainly has many advantages if used properly. Today about 5 to 6% of the printed products are done digitally. Compared to offset presses digital machines have significantly lower speed but the investment is still the same.”

Future Interests

Talking about the competition posed by Chinese companies, he says that with modern manufacturing facilities the outcome doesn’t come cheap. “In Switzerland we have a good work force and for us the biggest cost factor is labour. If it’s a company the size of Heidelberg then we can also have a very successful set up in China, as they have a certain momentum and size to operate there. Based on these, we have started our division in India and its going quite successfully. We have also begun operations in Singapore, which serves the market of Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore. We have opened an office in China too.”


Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker