DOT to revive its Strategic Business Unit at Pamex 2023

Tushar Dhote talks honestly about the pandemic's devastation

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Tushar Dhote managing director of DOT
Tushar Dhote managing director of DOT

Mumbai’s Dhote Offset Technokrafts (DOT) will relaunch and revive its Strategic Business Unit (SBU) during Pamex 2023 – to be held at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in March 2023. The SBU was launched at Pamex 2017 for services to help the industry get more organized and to add value to the DOT brand. Significantly, DOT almost simultaneously ventured into three separate service verticals through the SBU – education, print consultancy, and web to print. The SBU has been in a pause mode since 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

DOT tried out the education and skills space by establishing the DOT Institute of Graphics Communication (DIGC) through which it tried 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 ran a course on pre-press, press, post-press, and press management. The course also included theoretical sessions and in its two years of operation, in 2018 and 2019, DIGC trained 28 students, mostly from outside Mumbai. 

The second SBU vertical is print management services which provide end-to-end consultancy for startups and new projects. Through the print management services division, DOT undertook pre-initializing audits, feasibility study, project planning, implementation, resource procurement, process thumb-nailing, training, and retraining. 

Hands-on training requires off-line classes

“We are getting a lot of inquiries about the DIGC and our print management services. When it comes to DIGC, we tried online classes but it did not work out as offline classes are very important for the kind of hands-on training we were providing. We have some new ideas which will interest the young generation of printers. We will re-start DIGC from scratch,” says Tushar Dhote, managing director, DOT.

A similar plan is afoot for the print management services. DOT’s print management services vertical undertook three major projects in 2018 and 2019 in Indore, Mumbai, and Karnataka. The Indore project comprised the setting up of a complete packaging unit; the Mumbai project involved setting up a color printing unit; and, the Karnataka project required the setting up of a print unit for a finance company. 

For many decades DOT has been pioneering the commercial print 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 approaches to how a print house should be managed.

Indian commercial print segment yet to fully recover 

Although print segments such as packaging, labels, and books have pretty much recovered from the lows of the pandemic, Dhote says, the commercial bounce back in the print segment is still anemic. 

“When it comes to the commercial print segment, the pace of recovery is slow compared to other segments. One of the major reasons is that many print buyers during the pandemic have realized that they can go about their business without using printed material. So, why not save some costs, they ask? Much has gone digital during the two years of the pandemic. Another crucial factor is that offline events and exhibitions have yet to fully kick off in India,” Dhote says.

When asked when the commercial print segment will get back to pre-pandemic levels, Dhote says that it is hard to predict as much of the print work may not come back at all. “Considering the damage that the commercial print segment has seen during the pandemic, a good part of that damage may not be recoverable. The industry was already on a downward slope before Covid-19, and the pandemic exacerbated the situation. Overall print volumes in India may have recovered, or could even be close to pre-pandemic levels, but segments such as commercial print may not fully recover,” Dhote concludes. 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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