Kurian Thomas, owner and CEO of Eiffel Printing Press (Sharjah), and Kurians Printing Press (Dubai) tells Shilpa Jasani how his father has influenced his acumen, business and investment decisions

I feel humbled when I witness the dedication and commitment of my father who has single handedly been sales manager, accountant, production manager, delivery man, owner and managing director when he established Eiffel Printing Press. My father can operate most machines himself. Even now, every so often, our senior staff would discover him having slept on the office sofa at night. Even when returning back to the UAE from travels abroad, he will most likely come straight to office from the airport, rather than go home," says Kurian Thomas, CEO of Eiffel Printing Press.
A graduate from Kerala, Thomas went on to study printing technology in Mumbai, India. "My father was working in Bahrain. Ali Al Hashemi (the senior) encouraged my father to migrate to Dubai and start a printing press in 1990, he helped by supplying machinery. Even now Ali Al Hashemi are our sponsors. The press was established as a small start up unit with one single colour, 2 letter presses and a cutting machine.  We have been expanding over the years and now own five 2-colour, three single colour, a 4-colour Komori, CtP among others.  So far we have not invested in any digital machinery."
Kurian Thomas joined Eiffel Printing in 1993, as supervisor in his father's company. Today, 20 years later he is CEO. "Yet, we take my father's opinion on all major decisions and investments. Printing is moving towards digital and the industry in UAE has undergone explosive expansion in recent years; mainly due to the advent of Dubai Media City and increasing demands from the region. UAE has a great chance of emerging as print leader in the Middle East."
Eiffel Printing Press has specialised in printing tags for the airline industry, 5-star hotels, hospitals, ministries, schools and hypermarkets. "We have been taking up school note book jobs, brochures, annual reports.  Price wars however are going from bad to worse. So often we hear reports of a fellow printers' price quotation which shocks us. Some employees tend to give out abominably low prices to win contracts and show performance. This tends to lead to unhealthy price wars. Once I remember asking the CEO of a printshop about a quote sent out by his company. He was taken aback by the unrealistic pricing. The last I heard was that the printer had closed down his business. The global slowdown has made the industry more competitive and profit margins have declined drastically."
Striking an optimistic note, Thomas says that printing industry however was gaining stability after 4-5 years of recession period. "As the printing industry gets commercial day by day; we see endless scope and opportunities. As UAE market is growing far ahead, we don't foresee too many negative factors in the near future. Our press works in 2 shifts, and we are giving workers 4-5 hours worth of overtime wages. When we estalished Eiffel Printing, we faced uncomparable challenges. Now, with the grace of God, we are in a position to leave the past behind and move ahead with renewed energy."
A sister concern, Kurian Printing Press was established in 2001. "Besides this, we also set up 2 other presses, Stallion Printing (1997) and Al Tamir Printing Press (1998). These two were gifted to the daughters of the family, while we currently own Eiffel and Kurian printing presses," explains Thomas. "Stallion and Al Tamir have also expanded operations in the last two decades and are now sizeable business entities themselves."
Looking ahead, Thomas says that "For the next five years, we will concentrate in buying new machines since we feel printers will need to be well equipped  to face the challenges. Updating the infrastructure is another key factor that will be given due importance.  In my opinion, the demand is still there, though the supply to assure maximum satisfaction to the customers in the region is not sufficient. In order to succeed in any field one needs to be hard working, give due importance to punctuality and deadline schedules and never compromise on quality."
Signing off on an optimistic note, Thomas cautions fellow printers, "As we all are aware of the fluctuating and fluid market scenario, my advise to printers would be don't try to shoulder too many risks."