February 8, 2023 | Lena Chmielewska

Mark Andy looks to the future – CEO Jason Desai

CEO Jason Desai tells how the company intends to build on its background and history of success

CEO Jason Desai says he is very optimistic about Mark Andy’s future

Perhaps to many in this industry, especially those who have known Mark Andy only in the 21st century, the concept of it being a family business may appear strange.  But at a time when we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Mark Andrews founding the company, Mark Andy is once again a proud family business, and all the better for it!

When my Father PJ Desai took over the company, Mark Andy had been through a succession of ownerships around the investment group market – some being better than others.  But what he saw was a company that needed a more personal and human approach to ownership and management, and this is where we are today.

Core family values are the essence of Mark Andy’s success – that and the hard work put in by the team of very talented people we have in the company family.  If you can get the right people to buy into those values, then you’ll succeed, and in the narrow web sector, which is one of the youngest and smallest in the global print industry, this is vital if you’re going to serve your customers well.

Technology in a changing market

But no company, however successful, can afford to stand still.  We made our name in narrow web flexo and today have more than 8,000 presses in daily commercial production worldwide.  And with such a large and mature user-base we will continue to develop and innovate flexo technology going forward, so keep your eyes open for a new press launch in 2023.

All markets develop as demand changes, and narrow web is no exception, which is why some seven years ago, at the request of our customers, we launched our digital print program to fulfil what they told us they needed to satisfy their end users.  Today, we have the broadest range of digital technology on offer from any narrow web press manufacturer.

It includes the highly capable entry-level toner-based series, the Digital Pro, which is an ideal replacement for older legacy flexo presses.  In the mid-range we have the newly launched Digital Series iQ inkjet/flexo line developed in partnership with Domino, whose N600i engine is located between flexo print stations and converting options on our popular Evolution Series platform.  At the top end is our own in-house developed Digital Series HD line that is based on our Performance Series flexo platform and offers unrivalled quality and flexibility for label production from a single-source supplier.

Overall, we now have more than 400 digital presses operating worldwide, making us the market leader by some margin, and each type has been developed as a result of feedback from customers – they are the ones that drive product development and our R&D.  By the way, we don’t see digital as the endgame for narrow web and are already working on what we call ‘next wave’ print technology for our markets.

The importance of back-up

In today’s highly competitive marketplace it’s important to be seen as more than just a technology supplier.  That’s why in recent years we have made a conscious move into developing the support side of our business.  Mark Andy Print Products (aka MAPP) is our way of providing everything our customers need for their label business to succeed, from a printing press to all the consumables required, technical support and a vast store of spare parts that can be delivered anywhere, as fast as the courier service available – we all know that downtime costs money, and it’s often the little things that cause the biggest problems.

Serving the global market

I know there have been times when Mark Andy has been seen as too US-centric, and I just want to correct opinion on this.  We are very much a global company, as our user-base shows.  For example, we were quick to spot the potential for new business from central and eastern Europe some years back, so moved our continental headquarters from Switzerland to Poland, while retaining our UK base for western European customers.  The move has proven to be a huge success and has seen our market share grow exponentially in that region in recent years.

Our success there has been built on teamwork – recruiting and establishing a strong unit of specialists with excellent local knowledge and language capabilities – and having them buy into the Mark Andy way of working with and supporting customers.  I think even our competitors would acknowledge that we have the best after-sales service and support team in the narrow web sector!

DProMAX digital pro max roi

Mark Andy Digital Pro MAX – toner press

The next generation

Where we and most of the industry have a problem is the apparent lack of good youngsters coming into our business.  It’s not just about a lack of skilled press operators, it’s a seeming lack of awareness at schools and colleges of what this industry has to offer as a career – and it has everything possible, from science and engineering to sales and marketing, and accountancy and law.  And it’s an industry that will continue to grow globally for many years to come.

By way of response to this situation, Mark Andy has long been involved with student schemes that see educational workshops combined with internships to spark the interest among youngsters – we have even placed printing presses for training purposes in educational institutes.

Many adults have no idea of how big and varied this industry is, so how can we expect young people to know? We must be able to motivate people if we are to attract them to our industry and the onus is on manufacturer and converter alike to do this.  As CEO, I’m very comfortable with where Mark Andy sits on this score, and I strongly encourage others to take a more active role. 

Where to from here?

Am I optimistic about the future of Mark Andy in tomorrow’s world?  Absolutely!

In the short term, I’m sure we all have concerns about the current geo-political landscape and the way that trading alliances are being questioned and reformed.  Allied to the ongoing effects of the global pandemic, the business world is not what it was back in 2019.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – all markets evolve, and companies learn to adapt to the new situation.  At Mark Andy, every day is a challenge – a challenge to do better and improve our products and service.  I believe we are exactly the right size and have the agility to respond to fast-changing demand in our sector – and we have the products and people to ensure success.