What Komori’s direct presence means for its Indian customers

A meeting with Hirofumi Hoshino


In February 2018, the formidable Japanese press manufacturer Komori acquired a majority stake in its Indian in Insight Communications’ offset press sales operations. In April the new company in India held a customer event in New Delhi for which the top brass of the company, including Yoshiharu Komori, the chairman and chief executive officer of Komori, and Satoshi Mochida, the president and chief operating officer of the company, were also present. At the event Hirofumi Hoshino, the newly appointed managing director of Komori India, made a presentation in which he spoke about the benefits of the company’s direct presence in the country, especially for its customers.

In his first few months on the new job, Hoshino has been traveling around the country to the company’s various offices and meeting up with customers and with his own engineers – trying essentially to settle down and develop his strategy. We recently went over to the new Komori India office, located on the same floor as the Insight Communications office in a skyscraper that is getting its finishing touches, on the Delhi-Faridabad border to meet him.

At the outset he said, “One of the biggest reasons to come to India for a manufacturer is to of course grow, but the customers should also grow and the question is how to grow. My background is basically that of an engineer. I have been in Komori for over 41 years and 25 years out of that have been in the service department or in service-related positions in Europe, America and Japan where I was group general manager in service. I don’t know how to sell a press but I know how to satisfy a customer in service.”

Japanese standard support

Hoshino reiterated the benefits of the company’s direct presence which are essentially better communication and responsiveness to printers and the direct presence of senior Japanese engineering and training personnel. Continuing on his strategy for improving service levels for Komori customers, he said, “Apart from Hiroshi Suzuki, our Japanese engineer who is now based here, we have 30 local engineers and we can make them better quite quickly. In Japan Suzuki built up our customer support and he is essentially a solution provider. With the combination of our experience and together with our local team of engineers, I think we can provide a Japanese factory standard of service support.

“We can make our engineers better firstly right here by intensively training them. And then in Japan, as you know at the Komori factory in Tskuba City we have a Graphics Centre where in one corner we have a Dojo with a printing press that can be used for training, printing, assembly or anything we want to do. I want to make this service support team much more stronger, and not only with wrenches and micrometers but also to be a kind of advisor or consultant to the customer. They must be able to give help to the printer by using their problem solving experience to become advisors and consultants. They cannot just remain engineers but should know how to print and there should be a crossover in expertise. We can make them into very good advisors and in some time a true solutions provider team.”

Customized solutions

Hoshino said that his engineers are already working with some important customers for whom productivity is a concern. Some of the solutions are mechanical but other issues are resolved by observing the conditions and improving these. “If a customer wants to improve productivity, we can do this and if the customer wants to improve quality we can do that as well. In this way, it is my dream to provide customized solutions.”

He agreed that he is taking his service team into the realm of process consultants, “At the moment Komori is not getting into prepress, but yes, we can advise even on material handling and we are there for postpress. I do not want Komori to be just a printing press sales company but to be a solution provider and we push everyone in this.” Hoshino acknowledged that with its direct presence, the company is keen to support his strategy for training and service. In turn he wants his engineers to share their knowledge, experience and expertise with customers and each other as easily as they share their lunch.

Hoshino is committed to improving both the productivity and quality of output of his offset press customers. He has plans for his team to demonstrate the full capability of a newly installed press by going into a plant and running it at full speed at exceptional quality levels.

He shared that Komori India will provide a three-month start-up kit of chemicals, inks and consumables that can be used for showing the optimal output of the press. After being shown the recipe, it is then up to the customer to choose their own ingredients and style for achieving the level of excellence and productivity that they aspire to. “Of course our customers are using a variety of papers and they may be using inputs that are better suited to another manufacturer’s press, but they may not be good for Komori. After we demonstrate the full performance at full speed with the right materials, they can see what good the press can do and then they can choose the inputs for themselves.”

Building trust

As Komori India is able to increase and extend the competence and value of its engineering and service team, the company’s canvas will keep getting larger. From being problem solvers, quality optimizers and efficiency experts, they will become trusted solution providers. And then the company can provide more of its prepress and workflow solutions and for packaging its ancillary equipment for diecutting. The implication is that the increased bandwidth of the company in the Indian market will also mean expansion of its sales of software, cloud-based data collection and services, as well as sales of its digital presses, specialty application presses, equipment and consumables.

Further afield, it can also explore and start to address the large base of used Komori presses in the country, which include not only multicolor sheetfed presses but a large number of heatset web offset presses. “We have started to contact Komori used press customers. Although they are Komori customers, they have no contact with us. I want Komori customers to use their presses in a good way and of course they can grow and maybe they will buy a new press one day.”

Hoshino clearly sees the new beginning as an opportunity to leverage a renewed and fine-tuned Komori India service and engineering team. He seems quite sure that its crossover expertise will lead to increased sales not just in the country but also in nearby regions. u

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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