Katsuhisa Asari on his 25-year journey at Konica Minolta

The Konica Minolta India managing director gets candid at Pamex Mumbai

India managing director Katsuhisa Asari at Konica Minolta stall at Pamex. Photo IPP

Multinational technology company Konica Minolta participated at Pamex 2023 Mumbai with great zeal, displaying their range of printers, label presses, and labels.

In a conversation with Indian Printer and Publisher on the sidelines of the event, India managing director Katsuhisa Asari discussed at length his stint at Konica Minolta, the changing dynamics in the industry, and the company’s growth from just Minolta to Konica Minolta.

I joined Konica Minolta in 1998 right after my graduation. At that time the company was called Minolta and was based out of Osaka. I was initially in the overseas sales department, where I dealt with inquiries from the Middle East and Latin America for more than four years. In 2002, I had the opportunity to join the US team with multiple responsibilities related to business, sales, marketing, and planning. The company kept on providing me with opportunities and I was no longer limited to just sales. I spent nine years with the US team and in that period, Konica merged with Minolta as we see it today,” Asari said.

With a lot of learning and experience came the decision-making authority. Asari said, “The merger opened many possibilities for the company. Passive decision-making can be a productive strategy. It gave me a lot of growth. My nine years in the US made me aware of everything I would need to know about this competitive industry — from marketing to sales execution.”

He adds, “My next voyage was toward the Middle East in 2011, where I was responsible for sales, service, marketing, and planning related to all our partners in the region. This time, I was able to deliver what I had learned so far. Being given a senior position in the management, I was in charge of taking care of the business at all levels.”

Teamwork became an important aspect of Asari’s work culture as he says empowering co-workers and motivating subordinates help establish a better understanding of the business. He says he’s just lucky as wherever he goes, the business consistently grows and that is one of his strengths.

Asari has been associated with Konica Minolta India since 2018 as a general manager of business planning. In this role, Asari drove Konica Minolta’s business and technology strategy to further the company’s digital transformation, initiatives, strategic partnerships, and business growth to ensure shareholder value.

In April 2022, Asari was appointed as the new managing director of India operations, taking over the baton from Tai Nizawa. Nizawa shifted to Konica Minolta Asia as the managing director to oversee the expansion of the brand’s portfolio across 14 markets from Singapore.

In his 25 years of experience, Asari has worn multiple hats in the field of sales, marketing, strategic planning, and business development in the North and Central Americas and the Middle East, including his 13-year international stint before he joined India in 2018.

Asari added, “We have great talents and a customer-first DNA in the company. We will continue to service our customers with the same customer-centric experiences they expect from Konica Minolta while driving digital transformation to serve them better and more seamlessly.”

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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