C.V. Kurian, owner of Century Printing Press based in Dubai shares with Prashant Chaurasia  his  interesting vintage take,  with  40 years worth of experience in the Middle Eastern printing & publishing markets.

‘Born Printer’ is apparently sufficient to describe C.V. Kurian. Rooting from Kottayam, Kerala which is popularly known as land of latex, and the land of first news paper, Deepika, Kurian got acquainted to printing at a very fledgling age. Kurian says, “My father was associated to the owner of one of the oldest printing companies in India, S.T. Reddiar & Sons, established in 1886 they were the pioneers of the printing industry in Kerala. So, during my school vacations I would be rotating the big flywheel of the Guillotine Machine or witnessing the mechanical-Columbian Press in motion. At this age my interest was triggered and with helping in various other works in press I practically expanded my knowledge.”

Kurian completed his college graduation and joined the press work soon after. He started with second generation lithography plate making, as no CtP or pre- sensitized plates were present in those times. He used to work with bare plates,  do the graining, sensitize them, coat, then expose, develop and deep etch on zinc plates, “I used to work in day shift for plate making 9am to 6pm and from 6pm to 8pm I would be working on sheet fed offset single colour machine. This was the time I started relishing my passion.”

By 1978 Kurian got selected to an offset printing venture at government of Kerala, called Kerala Books & Publication Society, in those days it was the largest text books plant in Asia. It was operated by an East German company Unitechna. There he started as a assistant machine operator. At those times there were no prepress technicians available, with his knowledge on mounting and stripping  and also core printing he was transferred to the prepress department.
After working there for 3 years, in 1981 he moved on to Bahrain in 1981, working for the prepress department of the well known, Oriental Press. He went through rigorous training like from Watford, England at Crosfield Electronics the traditional high end scanners and page making. Within a few months of his job at Oriental he was assigned the prepress manager post. “I worked at Oriental Press Bahrain form 1981 to 1994, I will always cherish the years of my life there and all that I gained,” Kurian adds.

Commenting on the introduction of postscript in prepress around 1992 Kurian says, “All traditional high end image manipulation systems like Alpha Pro, Studio 800 system, all collapsed with the introduction of post script  by early 90’s as much more could be done by a desktop based Macintosh than a ~3 million dirhams Alpha Pro!" Printing industry has transformed a lot, Kurian supports “It used to take 45 minutes to make ready for a 2 colour, now it takes 10 minutes for a 4 colour press”
He shortly worked at Express Printing Establishment, Abu Dhabi before joining Al Futtaim Printers in Dubai, where he continued for 4 years and then moved to the Oman printers for a quarter of a decade. “Oman was a very  slow market with less opportunity for creativity,” he says. Finally he came back to Dubai for working with Dubai Marketing and Printing Press where he worked for 4 years again.

  With years of extensive experience and hard work, Kurian established Century Printing Press in August 2006 in Dubai with 7employees. “I was forced into the business by my friends, & rapport with elite clients from the previous assignments. Without a machine or a gram of ink I started with well wishers and people who believed in my work.”
Recalling his most memorable moment as “When I installed my first Speed Master 74-5 colour” Kurian, still believing in the beauty of traditional methods says, “I have limited ambitions, my age is constraining me now. I would like to enhance a bit on automation but keep moving vigorously on creative fronts.” Kurian also likes to designs greeting cards, catalogs, luxury packaging of many European brands to fulfill his innovative appetite.
He believes that the current markets trends are towards digital, stationery, print on demand and personalized stuffs.

Commenting on the credit policy, he says “More the term, higher the debt. There should be a limited 60 days period for better cash generation for the industry or a set term depending on the limit or the monthly volume.” he jokes, “It funny how people have taken recession as a better reason for non-payment or delaying credit.”

Advicing to the new printers he says, “If you don’t know the industry, don’t enter. UAE print market is ruined by low standards because people jumping in without experience.”
Kurian, who has seen advances from wet collodian process till the new generation CtP and from hand-fed litho until the modern sheetfed offset in printing, signs off by saying, “Success is having satisfied people around you, I don’t consider myself as the MD of my company but as a team leader, working with dedicated and creative people.”