Mumbai’s DOT leaps into services domain for next growth phase

DOT sets up SBU for services

Tushar Dhote (third from left) with some members of DOT team

For many decades now Dhote Offset Technokrafts (DOT) has been pioneering the commercial printing segment and is now among the leading print service providers in Mumbai. Managed by brothers Tushar and Uday Dhote, the company has been at the forefront of bringing in fresh ideas and approach to how a print house should be managed. So, it was not a surprise when DOT announced during Pamex 2017 that it will be setting up a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) for services to help the industry get more organized and also add value to the DOT brand.

“Of late, the print industry has become very static and we needed to look into how to add value to our brand. We wanted to now have a presence in services as well and that is why DOT established the SBU,” says Tushar Dhote, managing director, DOT.

This is a significant decision for DOT as it ventures into three separate services verticals through the SBU: education, print consultancy and web-to-print.

DOT Institute of Graphics Communication

DOT has forayed into the education space by establishing the DOT Institute of Graphics Communication (DIGC) through which DOT is looking to bridge the skill gap in the print industry. DIGC aims to introduce fresh graduates to the practical aspects of production and provide focused training in various aspects of print technology. DIGC will run a six-month course on prepress, press, postpress and press management. The theory classes will take place at DOT’s Jogeshwari facility while practical will be conducted at DOT unit at Goregaon where all the machinery is placed.

“We have to accept that there is a big mismatch in the skills that fresh graduates currently possess and what the print industry requires. DIGC will help bridge this gap,” says Dhote.

There are some eminent personalities in DIGC’s Board of Studies. They are Ramesh Kejriwal of Parksons Packaging, Dr Rajendrakumar Anayath, vice chancellor of Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University, Sonepath, Kamal Chopra, past president AIFMP, Naren Kalapi of Technova, Aspi Forbes of Jak Printers, Dr Akshay Joshi of Pune Vidyarthi Griha, Bhargav Mistry of Grafica, Dr Ashutosh Tripathi of IIT Kanpur and Ramu Ramnathan, editor, Printweek India.

DIGC is not the only endeavor of DOT to make print industry more professional. It plans to spread awareness about career prospects in print industry to students from non-print colleges as well. Initially, it will be targeting five Mumbai colleges where it will show two films dealing with various career options that exist in the print industry and create awareness about what the industry has in store for graduates who are not from print colleges.

“The idea is to attract top quality talent and intellect to the print industry. Initially we will target five Mumbai colleges and then take it to colleges in other cities of Maharashtra and then all over India in the coming years. I know this will not happen overnight, but someone has to make a start if we want to bring in more intellect into the industry,” argues Dhote.

Print management services

The second vertical in the SBU is the print management services which provides end to end consultancy for startups and new projects. Through the print management services division, DOT will do pre-initializing audit, feasibility study, project planning, implementation, resource procurement, process thumbnailing, and training and retraining.

“As of today, we have executed two projects successfully while a few more are in the pipeline. Yes, this is a business for us but I feel we are also creating quality and professional printers by offering our print management services to someone who wants to start new,” states Dhote.


With the proliferation of internet and smartphones, the number of services offered through the internet and mobile apps has boomed. From food to electronics to clothes, almost everything can be now ordered through a computer or a mobile phone. Print services have also not remained untouched. However, a vast majority of web-to-print ventures that were launched in the last decade or so have been unsuccessful. Dhote believes, the reason is weak back-end.

“You can create a great front-end but if your print back-end is not up to the mark, you cannot go far enough. Most of the ventures that were launched in the past were unsuccessful because there were issues such as poor and inconsistent quality, patchy delivery, among others. That is why we have made sure our web-to-print venture is backed by a very strong back-end,” Dhote says. DOT’s back-end currently is located in Goregaon at its 15,000 square feet facility, which has prepress, CtP, offset, digital, postpress, packaging and logistics under one roof. It has two Ryobi offset presses, multiple digital presses from Xerox and Konica Minolta, Sakuria screen printing machine and a strong postpress section, among others. DOT has also ordered a slew of digital finishing equipment from Duplo, Technova and other smaller machines, which are expected to be installed in the next few weeks.

DOT’s web-to-print venture will have both B2B and B2C segments with former catering to items such as books and magazines while the latter will deal with stationery items. The beta version of the DOT’s web-to-print venture will most likely be launched around July.

Stake sale

Dhote is of the view that DOT’s SBU will reach a critical mass in terms of revenue by financial year 2021-2022. The ultimate objective of DOT, Dhote says, is to have multiple storefronts in various cities of the country by that time. For such an expansion, a lot of financial backup will be needed, which, Dhote feels, can be provided by an investor or multiple investors. However, he is clear he is not looking for angel or venture funding.

“I am not looking for funding. That we can have even now. We are only looking for an investor or investors who are looking to buy outright stake in the company,” he concludes.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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