Wan-Ifra’s tribute to Indian printing veteran

Roy Alex, newspaper printing and publishing industry veteran passed away in Mumbai

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Wan-Ifra
Roy Alex with one of his sons. Photo Newstech India website

Roy Alex, the newspaper printing and publishing industry veteran for nearly four decades, passed away in Mumbai, India, on 26 January 2022, after a brief illness. He was 67.

Alex was the owner and managing director of Newstech India, based in Mumbai and a provider of technology solutions to newspaper printing and publishing companies. Alex’s company represented several international suppliers including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (printing machine), IST Metz, Betz, DSC Chemicals, Protecmedia and others.

Alex was well-known in the industry, especially for his well-mannered attitude and friendly disposition. The news of his passing came as a shock to several of his friends and the numerous colleagues who knew him well.

An astute, first-generation businessman, he had historical ties with IDAB Wamac for manufacturing mailroom systems and with Betz for manufacturing ink pumping systems. Today his company in Mumbai continues to manufacture these products. He studied printing technology at the Government Institute of Printing Technology in Mumbai. After completing his studies, he worked for Technova for a few years and in the year 1982, sensing the demand for sophisticated printing solutions, he founded Newstech India, dealing with imported printing technology solutions.

A regular participant of Wan-Ifra conferences in India, Alex had participated in all the Wan-Ifra events in India up to the year 2020, a rare feat for a supplier company. Newstech India has been a loyal member of Wan-Ifra during most of that time. Several industry friends recalled how he was able to convince his newspaper customers to buy his product and services and his closeness to the inner circle of Indian newspaper managers.

Thomas Jacob, chief operating officer of Wan-Ifra and a friend of  Alex for more than three decades, said “Alex was a towering personality and well-respected by the newspaper community in India. His entrepreneurial skills and marketing savvy were legendary. He was a great supporter of Wan-Ifra, being the first technology company in India to join the organization, way back in 1997. With his death, his friends and family have lost a great human being, full of energy and optimism.”

Alex lived a full life and was always with zest. We have lost a good friend of Wan-Ifra and of the industry. He could not participate in the last Wan-Ifra Indian Printing Summit in 2021 and said to me that “I will be back next year’. That’s not to be now. He will be sorely missed.

Alex is survived by his wife and two sons. Both his sons were abroad and expected to carry forward the dad’s business.

 

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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