Higher raw material prices have had a major impact on the printing ink industry. One way some ink manufacturers are trying to get by is through using less expensive raw materials while trying to maintain performance.
For Pulse Printing Products Ltd., a water-based coatings and UV ink specialist based in Bristol, UK, that goes against everything they believe in terms of relationships and quality.
“We believe that it is absolutely essential that our customers are able to rely on the fact that the products we develop in conjunction with them to meet their exacting requirements are not ‘re-engineered’ without their knowledge just as an exercise to improve our margins,” said Gary Sheppard, Pulse Printing Products’ chairman and managing director. “This really goes to the heart of the integrity of the relationship we look to establish with our customers, and quite simply, we will not compromise our reputation by operating in such an underhanded way.
“The fact that this practice has grown during the last couple of years following the large raw material increases actually gives us extra opportunities, as we often approached by potential new customers who have experienced such practices with their incumbent supplier, and as a result are looking to transfer their custom to more reliable supply sources,” Mr. Sheppard added.
Pulse was established in 2000 by a group of highly experienced individuals. Their focus was initially geared towards water-based emulsions and UV curable lacquers; UV inks were added in 2004.
“The company was created to operate on the core values of quality, service, competitivity and consistency,” Mr. Sheppard said. “Today we are based in a 55,000 square foot head office and manufacturing facility, complemented by two regional distribution centers. Exports have grown rapidly that today more than half of our £16m turnover comes from overseas markets.”
Working closely with their customers has been a key differentiator for Pulse Printing Products.
“The biggest difference between our primary competitors is our unique route to market,” Mr. Sheppard said. “In the UK, we have our own dedicated sales team working directly with our printer customers to meet and hopefully exceed their coating, ink and consumable requirements. We then take this first-hand experience into the development of our own products for overseas markets.
“In addition, we welcome the opportunity to offer our customers a highly bespoke service where we will develop unique products which meet exactly their individual requirements,” Mr. Sheppard added. “We have developed our manufacturing facility to not only provide consistency of manufacture, but also to be capable of handling multiple batch variations as we look to service the individual requirements of all our customers. This flexibility is a key advantage over our multinational competitors, as they increasingly have been forced to adopt a more uniform and set product range approach where there is no flexibility to offer individual variations. We very much believe this is a big error that we can take advantage of.”
Pulse Printing Products is thriving in export markets.
“Apart from consolidating our home sales, we have been very successful in expanding our sales throughout Europe,” Mr. Sheppard said. “Following the emergence of the Eastern European nations, we have excellent sales in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Turkey has been an excellent market for us, and during recent years the appointment of key distributors through the Middle East and India has seen some excellent growth”
Mr. Sheppard added that the company has been very pleased by its recent success in South East Asia, which complements the excellent sales it has been enjoying in Australia and New Zealand. He added that Pulse is also making inroads in South America.
Mr. Sheppard anticipates that Pulse’s customer-centric approach will continue to drive growth in the future.
“Despite the difficulties being experienced by the industry, we remain confident of our ability to maintain overall growth,” Mr. Sheppard said. “We are finding that increasingly our position between the large multinationals, which have reached a certain market share but are now having to take costs and services out as the market contracts, and the smaller regional distributors is increasingly putting us in a unique position where the scale of our manufacturing capability ,coupled with a very local and completely flexible service-oriented approach, is allowing us to stand out.”