Varkey Oommen, managing director, Alpha Printing Press, Dubai in conversation with Prashant Chaurasia narrates his times in the printing industry from past four decades and discusses his endeavours for the years to come.

With an appetite of business and technology, Varkey Oommen hails from the beautiful town of Mannar located in Alleppey, Kerala, India. Varkey says, “I used to live in a very small village  where it was difficult to have a know-how about technology and business. This somehow accelerated my inclination to learn more about what was unknown.”

Following the path paved by his interest Varkey gradually selected printing as a major after schooling. He moved to Chennai in 1967 where he received his Diploma in Printing Technology (previously, known as Licentiate in Printing Technology). Studying part time he got hands on practical experience through his apprentice at Prasad Process Private Ltd. until 1972, “While studying, I got acquainted with much deeper aspects of Letterpress, Lithography, Linotype, Monotype, offset in those days. While at Prasad, one of the biggest press of Asia in those times, I learned composing, binding, photogravure, block making & exposure techniques,” said Varkey. 
After his Diploma, to broaden his knowledge, he further moved to Mumbai, India in 1972. There he shouldered the responsibility of production incharge at Kingsley Printing Press for 4 years.
In 1972 Varkey arrived to Dubai. He recalls the selection process as his most memorable moment in life, “Learning about me through some common acquaintance M.K.Kamaludeen Haji, general manager of  Dubai based Union Press, was willing to hire me for a production job. Interviewing me at Taj Mahal Hotel, to my surprise he did not even ask me a single technical question but  asked me when can I move to Dubai. I still cherish that moment and would like to wholeheartedly thank Kamaluddin Haji for giving me this opportunity.”

Varkey being very determined, worked at the Union press for the next 12 years. During this tenure he got acquainted to the then burgeoning markets of Middle East. He subsequently learned dynamism of the business and technologies in printing industry, which spurred the idea to open his own business.
Freelancing for certain years, he finally took license & started screen designing & printing with Excel Arts 1988 and soon after started Excel Printing Press in 1993. The main challenges that he has been facing is the unhealthy competition, price war between presses & collection issues. He foresees a dominant digital market & thus wishes to expand his current press, Alpha printing press at IMPZ which was established in 2009, already into commercial printing to a sizable packaging & digital share. “We implemented MIS system by which we can get automated estimates quickly & accurately for commercial, packaging and digital jobs. We have reached the stage where we can show our clients exactly how the colours will look in press by using GMG proofing technology. Also, we have standardized our press with automated  CIP3 and Closed loop from Xrite technologies for efficiency.”

Commenting on his future plans Varkey said, “We will enter creative short run packaging and digital printing arena. We are also planning to use state of art technologies to promote printed products to our client’s with quality. We want to focus on corporate and SMB’s by becoming a total marketing solutions providing company by combining print and cross media capabilities to our portfolio. Oomman Varkey, my son who holds a  masters degree in business is actively supporting me for  over last 8 years and I am confident he will adapt right business strategies and technology and take Alpha to next level of success in coming years.”

Varkey measures his success in terms of sincerity & hard work. He says, “Fulfilled commitments with satisfied employees and customers is my mantra. Also employee retaining is very important. Starting with 5, I have 150 employees working for me, whom I provide medical & accommodation facilities. During recession I  never down sized my workforce but leveraged operational cost.”
Signing off, Varkey advices the printers to remember the lessons that recession has taught and move forward. He says, “Before you do any investments think twice. Cutting in overheads and unwanted expenses is the need of the moment for the industry to flourish again.”