Mark Andy sees noticeable uptick in H2 of 2020

PJ Desai – Global label industry is resilient and accelerating

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Banner thanking Mark Andy's employees was placed in the manufacturing building in Missouri, United States. Photo Mark Andy
Banner thanking Mark Andy's employees was placed in the manufacturing building in Missouri, United States. Photo Mark Andy

Mark Andy says its recent orders coupled with widespread, ongoing converter activities paint a positive outlook going forward as the entire label and packaging industry has adapted to meet the unique challenges presented by the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

PJ Desai, chief executive officer, Mark Andy, states, “The first half of 2020 was extremely challenging due to the pandemic’s impact, and none of our businesses were untouched by it. However, our business and industry continued to adapt, and business activity in many segments has returned to pre-Covid levels.” Mark Andy’s Chief business officer, Tom Schelmbauer, also notes, “The bulk of Mark Andy’s install base is running strong despite the pandemic. Many of our customers tell us they are at capacity and now need more production assets. New press orders have accelerated for flexographic platforms, and across all segments, entry-level and up.”

Reflecting on the last few months, Desai acknowledges the numerous changes and adaptations necessary to continue manufacturing operations at multiple facilities across the globe during a pandemic. Temperature checks, PPE, social distancing, work cell modifications, and other adaptations were quickly implemented.

Out of Labelexpo Americas – focus on drupa and Brussels

Desai relays that virus-related safety concerns have forced a drastic curtailment in the OEM’s industry event participation. One such unexpected change for Mark Andy is that it will not exhibit in the Chicago Labelexpo Americas event in March 2021. It will participate in Labelexpo Europe in September 2021. The manufacturer also expects to participate in drupa 2021. Desai explains, “with Covid-19 delays, the show schedule for 2021 is too tightly packed. To better serve our customers and global partners, we will focus our efforts on Brussels and drupa. Both events operate on timelines that align with more normalized travel policies and a higher probability of safety.”

Desai also notes, “Covid-19 forced us to re-think how we interact with our customers, how we sell our products and services, and how we support our customers post-sale. Our team is committed to working with our customers even more closely than we did pre-Covid, even if that means virtually, over the phone, or using some other electronic technology. Today at Mark Andy, digital communication technology is increasingly utilized to conduct sales calls, demos, training, troubleshooting, and even press installations.”

In the age of Covid-19, Mark Andy’s customers have similarly adapted to this ‘new norm’ and often prefer these methods. Desai concludes that “While nothing beats in-person demonstrations, connecting at trade shows, and welcoming suppliers and customers into our facility, we are all advancing and growing together to keep this industry lively and vibrant to meet customer needs as we move into Q4 and beyond.”

Sanitizers, digital and refurbished presses

Another interesting pivot of the company is its supplies business. Mark Andy Print Products (MAPP), the supply arm of Mark Andy, operates a distribution center in Des Plaines, IL, that is outfitted with chemical blending abilities. The MAPP team has increased the blending of alcohol-based hand and surface sanitizers in response to Covid-19. According to Stuart Gallup, VP Commercial of Mark Andy, “Many In-plant operations we work with have pivoted to produce sanitizers for their states, and we were able to supply them many raw materials to aid in this when supply was scarce.”

“Across all platforms, Digital Pro to HD, Mark Andy’s digital business continues to meet expectations. Even more exciting is that the fuel for this growth checks all the boxes – new presses to new clients and additional presses and upgrades to current clients. Consumables sales growth from new press installs and higher utilization rates of existing equipment demonstrate that our customers are adapting successfully during these challenging times. In fact, demand for refurbished presses exceeds what we have in inventory,” notes David Medlar, vice president, Digital, Mark Andy.

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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