Interview with Matthias Tietz
- Article ID:
October 2010. The Rheinisch-Bergische Druckerei (RBD) has used to occasion of extending its printing centre in Düsseldorf Heerdt to invest in new equipment that gives it new options, especially in the semi-commercial area. Matthias Tietz, chief executive at RBD, explains how the company plans to capture a bigger share of this market segment.
How can newspaper printing companies compete with commercial printing operations in the semi-commercial area? What are the arguments in favour of the newspaper production process?
MATTHIAS TIETZ: The coldset newspaper printing press can today supply outstandingly good products in 52 screen on improved newsprint. Newspaper printing companies usually have free capacities and the printing and mailroom equipment available today offers many openings for entering the commercial business. These three arguments, combined with a market in which low per item costs are becoming increasingly important, make the role of the modern newspaper also attractive.
For you, where does semi-commercial begin and where does it end?
M. TIETZ: For me, semi-commercial starts with good coldset quality, a screen definition of about 52 lines/cm and improved newsprint. And it ends where commercial printing begins, i.e. with glossy paper.
You are not going down the heatset road, why? Is the use of a dryer an option for the future?
M. TIETZ: Heatset is not on our agenda at present. Before it can be considered, the production possibilities provided by the new presses must be brought on to the market. Another argument against drying is that it is expensive. I would not totally rule out this possibility as an option for the future, but only if a customer calls for it (and it recovers the approximately one million euros investment indirectly through orders).
Do you have sellers in your company who market this offering in an aimed way? Is the publishing company involved in order acquisition?
M. TIETZ: Naturally, we offer the new production possibilities to our publishing company that uses them to optimise its special publications offerings. Basically, however, we have our own sales service for our commercial business. The service companies of the publishing house offer us extensive network possibilities. This ranges, for example, from the NDV-Magazinverlag that can translate an idea into a product for the customer, up to logistics and delivery. Thus our sales team has an attractive offering to suit specific requirements that can be ordered from a single provider. All this with partners whose strengths we know from the daily newspaper business.
Was your decision in favour of a waterless web offset press influenced by the prospect of expanding your semi-commercial business?
M. TIETZ: Yes, of course. We wanted to buy a commercial press that can also print newspapers. The Cortina came very close to satisfying these demands. 70 or FM screens can be used, grammages up to 120 g as well as lightly coated paper can be run. The product quality is visibly enhanced, just by changing to higher-quality papers and screens. We can print different formats, Rheinisch or Berlin format or intermediate formats. But the best reference for the decision is undoubtedly the customer who now tell us repeatedly: “We never would have believed that such products could be output on a newspaper press.”
You use your mailroom also for jobs that were not produced on your own presses. What types of jobs are these?
M. TIETZ: Direct distribution is our speciality, i.e. we insert up to 12 regionalised products into a four-page jacket. We see a growing market that, due to the increasing volumes of inserts to be prepared for fine-zone coverage, is calling for good technical processing.
Besides this, we have printing customers who supply us with additional products to process for joint logistics, etc. Our sales portfolio also includes these offers.
Does the offer include delivery?
M. TIETZ: No, the customer usually looks after delivery himself. If required, and for an additional charge, delivery can be offered on the basis of a partnership with the direct distributor.
Which technical and other preconditions must be satisfied by finishing in order to be able to attract such add-on business?
M. TIETZ: Stitching and trimming make an attractive magazine or catalogue out of a product printed on the Cortina. Inserting technology with a 4 to 48-page jacket and the capacity to insert into part print runs in a regionally targeted way benefits all business areas. Different forms of mail addressing, variable top sheet printing for different distribution channels – whether newspaper-freesheet distribution or postal services, etc. – are important technical components. Then there is also the need to ensure that commercial jobs are finished without smearing in the mailroom.
Would you recommend newspaper printing plants to invest in equipment and personnel in order to be able to offer the printing and finishing of higher-quality printed products (semi-commercial products)? Would it be worthwhile?
M. TIETZ: In the last 10 years of equipment development, our suppliers have made major advances in the commercial field. At the same time, the newspaper has raised its standards significantly. This means that all that is required in the way of new or add-on investments for the commercial business represents just minor additional capital costs to gain the technology that opens the door to the new business area. But there must also be a change of attitude at all levels in the operation, in all minds. Commercial production calls for a different work quality, a different time schedule, no job is like any other one, therefore making it necessary to learn and to secure quality. Besides this, it is necessary to invest in sales, build a good network – but yes, it is worthwhile!
What is the ratio of the core business of newspaper printing to outside jobs today? Is it possible that one day the secondary business could overtake the main business?
M. TIETZ: The ratio today is about 60:40, we are aiming for 50:50.
What objectives have you set yourselves for the near future?
M. TIETZ: Since 2003, we have transformed our newspaper printing plant into a printing centre.
• continue to concentrate on this development,
• and, of course, market the new product opportunities offered by the Cortina,
• communicate that it is necessary today to redefine how a modern newspaper printing company should be seen.
I am convinced that we can continue to grow, despite difficult economic times.