Print on Demand

Moore Printing

Since the advent of the internet and desktop publishing, there have not been high hopes for the market of traditional printed material. But David Doig, General Manager and Director of Moore Printing, proves how investing in innovation has created a clear pathway to success.

Based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Moore Printing has long been the largest manufacturer and supplier of business forms and general printing services in PNG. The company’s roots lie with Moore Corporation, a US-based company established in 1878 by Samuel Moore, the man credited with inventing carbon paper. Moore’s manufacturing operations began in PNG in 1989 as the nation was identified as an emerging market.

In 1999, the company was purchased in a management buyout led by Managing Director, Bob O’Dea with David Doig as GM which led to new growth and successes. Soon afterwards, the pair took over a company in Lae, and eventually acquiring PNG Printing in 2007 as well.

The company’s innovation has been primarily taking place in the Port Moresby plant, says General Manager David Doig, but is now starting to roll out upgrades in its other plants located in Lae, Madang, and Kokopo. “The other plants are really satellite manufacturing operations to service local markets in those areas,” Mr Doig explains.

The continuous forms market has been in steady decline now for many years. But according to Mr Doig, “surprisingly, we still produce quite a large amount.” Current sales still are significantly less than in the past, he explains. “[Continuous forms] used to represent in excess of 30 per cent of our production, but nowadays it is only around 10 per cent.”

Commercial printing, however, holds up much better. Moore has installed a number of multi-colour sheet-fed presses for four-colour process quality work. This allows the company to supply anything from glossy magazines to a simple business card or small label. Mr Doig explains that digital printing, both colour and mono, is the fastest growing product group in the business now, representing nearly 15 per cent of turnover from zero 10 years ago.

Security printing also is a large and growing part of the business, and Moore Printing is the only recognised player in the security printing market. “We invested into it quite heavily about ten years ago,” Mr Doig adds. Now the company prints chequebooks, share dividends and many other important negotiable documents for the financial sector. Moore also has a secure document destruction service for both small and large volume document-shredding requirements.

The company’s first five-colour machine was the first of its kind in the country, much more advanced than anything the local industry had seen before. The press was faster and had improved output. According to Mr Doig, “at the time there really was not a big demand for that work to keep the press running all day. So we came up with the idea of establishing a publishing company of our own, with a couple of ideas for magazines that both Bob and I had had for some time.” Among these magazine ideas were Niugini Blue and a travellers’ guide, both titles now produced in large volumes. Since then the Pacific Islands Publishing division has put out more titles including Airlines PNG’s in-flight magazine; Our Way; and a women’s magazine called Lily tailored to PNG tastes, the first publication of its kind in the market. This division has proven to be a great success.

Since the installation of the first five-colour press, Moore has added another. The company has invested in the latest pre-press and plate technology, as well as other quality improvements in finishing and book binding. These investments are truly paying off. “Especially in the last five years or so,” says Mr Doig, “a lot of work that was seen to be not achievable quality-wise in PNG… is now being done onshore.” This includes publications such as annual reports for public companies, work that previously was always done offshore. “That has had a huge impact on the requirements on our machines,” he continues.

Modern machinery and technology have reduced the skills requirements to some extent, but printing remains a craft that demands thoughtful care and attention. Mr Doig acknowledges that there is minimal investment in developing the skilled human resources necessary to foster or respond to growth in the industry. Other print companies are much smaller than Moore Printing and have little capacity to invest in training and skills development. The Office of Higher Education in PNG offers some training in the industry; however, as Mr Doig says, not at a sufficiently high level of teaching. “There is no pool of talent we can call on when we are looking for another pressman or graphic artist,” he explains, so the company has taken matters into its own hands. “Years ago, we decided to embark on an apprenticeship programme.” Accordingly, Moore Printing sends trainees to TAFEs in Brisbane, Australia. This initiative has proven successful, albeit expensive.

Now, the appropriate TAFE facilities are few and far between; Brisbane is following several other major centres in closing its print teaching operations. Again, Moore Printing has taken a leadership role to fill another gap in the system. “We have bitten the bullet and opened our own training facility here,” notes Mr Doig, referring to operations in the PNG capital. The company recently opened a state-of-the-art training centre boasting advanced technologies throughout, and the centre is steadily increasing its apprentice intake. The 2013 intake is 14 individuals, compared to two or three in previous years. Essentially, the flow of students has reversed: trainers are now coming up from Australia to train our apprentices, rather than always travelling to Australia to receive advanced training in lithographic printing, graphic arts or pre-press.

Moore Printing has approximately 240 staff. According to Mr Doig, it can be frustrating but almost inevitable that some skilled staff leave each year, effectively “poached” by smaller companies that cannot or do not want to invest in their own training programmes. “This is one of the reasons we train more than we actually need,” he adds. If other companies just poached the qualified tradespeople, that would not be such a problem; but these companies tend to recruit staff who have only have a couple of years of training and experience, which can be more disruptive to ongoing skills development programs.

Moore Printing wants to keep the best and brightest among its staff, and so hosts a number of programmes to encourage staff to stay. “We have created what we call a retention bonus, which is starting to have some success,” shares Mr Doig. “It’s a sum of money they qualify for as a bonus for sticking with us.”

Adding to its leadership in the industry, Moore Printing goes above and beyond environmental stewardship standards. Approximately 85 per cent of its paper is produced under Forest Stewardship Council regulations, meaning it is sustainably sourced. The company’s secure shredding process is also in effect a recycling business, with some 70 tonnes of shredded paper being shipped to Korea for recycling every two months.

Mr Doig mentions a number of global companies with operations in PNG; all of these companies operate to global best practice standards while in the country. These corporations, as well as quality local companies, maintain rising expectations of quality standards in PNG and when these companies look to set up contracts with Moore Printing, they find a partner capable of more than holding its own against competitors not only in Australia, but also across Asia. Carbon paper and continuous stationery may be consigned to the past, but printing is alive and well in Port Moresby.

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January 18, 2019, 3:33 AM AEDT