Juan Carlos Arroyave (centre), the owner of Etipress, with John Vigna and Kenjiro Celaya of Mark Andy and the newly installed Digital Series HD press
In a year blighted by the global Covid pandemic, leading US manufacturer of narrow web press technology, Mark Andy, has reported record sales for its team in the LATAM region, with installations from Mexico and the Caribbean in the north, to Argentina in the south, and a healthy mix of flexo and digital technology. Speaking recently for the company, Sales Manager for the LATAM area John Vigna explained: “At a time when there was so much uncertainty across the Americas, we have significantly lifted our performance and increased our market share with a number of key conquest sales and market ‘firsts’!”
In addition to press sales totalling nearly 30 over the 12-month period, what impresses Vigna the most is the spread across eight countries and the diversity in specification of the machines involved, from the well-proven entry-level 10” 2200 Series to a 20” Performance Series P7 and 14 examples of the new Evolution Series (13 E5 and 1 E3) on the flexo front, to a Digital Series HD and Digital Pro 3 in the hybrid market. “We have enjoyed success right across our product portfolio thanks to the hard work put in by our sales and support teams,” he added.
One of Mark Andy’s key markets in the region is Mexico, and its sales were given a significant boost here with the appointment of Kenjiro Celaya as Sales Manager for the country. A former Plant Manager at an existing Mark Andy user, he brings a solid background of technical knowledge and production expertise to a market that while well-established, is having to come to terms with a raft of new technology and all that it brings in terms of opportunities. “Having Kenjiro onboard has boosted our status amongst our many label converting customers in Mexico, who value his hands-on experience,” said Vigna.
Conscious that the Mark Andy brand had for some time been low key, John Vigna has set about upping the profile of the company with new personnel that crucially are trained and proficient in the new technology the company is bringing to the market. “We have an educational job to do in LATAM. First, we need to let label converters know that wherever they are located we will provide local and high-quality support, and second, we are working hard to show Mark Andy as the narrow web technology leader, especially in the digital hybrid sector that is growing fast and where we have a clear lead over our competition.”
While the Mark Andy brand has long been aspirational to label converters in the LATAM region, political upheavals, and economic uncertainty, allied to the currency fluctuations that follow have often made press sales difficult for the US manufacturer – another problem that Vigna has successfully addressed. “We understand the difference between wanting a Mark Andy and being able to afford one! So, we’ve set up a number of financial packages that can be offered to potential customers, and we can tailor them to suit individual needs and circumstances. The aim is to ensure that money is no barrier to getting the Mark Andy product you want.”
Commenting further on the high-specification of the presses installed last year, Vigna says that he sees a notable trend towards shrink sleeves, in-mould labels, and flexible packaging across the region, along with a growing interest in RFID technology. In fact, one Brazilian customer, Beontag in Campo Mourão in Paraná, which installed a 20” Mark Andy P7 fitted with a Tamarack RFID unit, is now the second largest RFID supplier globally, with European production plants in Finland, France and Italy. Other significant sales worth highlighting are 13 of the new Evolution Series E5 presses (in both 13” and 17” web widths) and 1 of the Evolution Series E3. One in particular, at Suprapak in Cali, Columbia is being promoted locally as a significant addition to the company’s Mark Andy stable that already includes a P5 and 2200 – the company is well known for its shrink sleeve production.
In addition to the year bringing record sales numbers in his territory, John Vigna is delighted with some of the ‘big name’ companies who have joined the Mark Andy users club. Flexoprint in Brazil installed its first two Mark Andy presses thanks to the efforts of local representative Miguel Troccoli of PTC. Another Brazilian printer, Gráfica Cometa, acquired its first Mark Andy, an Evolution Series E3. Softcolor installed a 17” P7, its first Mark Andy, Autopel bought a P5 and then added an E5, the first in Brazil. In Belo Horizonte, Maxcor brought their total of Mark Andy presses to 16 with the addition of three 2200s and an E5, while international group Sato acquired a P7 for their plant in Brazil and an E5 for their plant in Argentina. You could say that Mark Andy flexo had a good year!
But the noticeable trend across the region is a growing interest in digital printing and in particular what hybrid technology has to offer. “This is where Mark Andy is in a unique position. We have three hybrid products in our portfolio, aimed at different sectors of the market, and importantly all use proven technology and have numerous installations worldwide that prove their commercial viability,” explained Vigna, who has devoted considerable time to educating the narrow web sector about hybrid technology and what it has to offer converters that are looking to grow and diversify their businesses.
At the entry level is the Digital Pro Series that combines a dry toner engine for CMYK with a platform that allows a flexo print station before and after the digital module for spot colour, varnishing, or cold foiling. It also die cuts, slits, or sheets inline, as required. Next is the Digital Series iQ, a joint development by Mark Andy and Domino that offers CMYKOV + WW inkjet printing to 600dpi resolution, with inline printing and finishing based on the Evolution Series platform. DSiQ is aimed at the middle sector of the market for medium length runs.
At the top end is the Digital Series HD, a completely in-house product from Mark Andy that combines the Performance Series servo platform with a 1200dpi eight-colour inkjet engine and an almost endless choice of options with its modular configuration. Existing Mark Andy flexo user Etipress has become the first in LATAM to install a 17” DSHD hybrid, and all eyes are focussed on how this single-pass production line compares with offline print and converting.
“There is no doubt we have the most comprehensive range of printing technology of any narrow web manufacturer in the world, and it’s all well-proven for reliable commercial production, which removes the risk for those new to servo driven flexo or digital hybrids. By taking the strategic decision to upscale our sales and support network in the region, we are well placed to tap into the growth in demand for new products and the shorter runs created by versioning,” concluded John Vigna, who is confident that the sales record set by Mark Andy in the LATAM region last year is just the beginning of something even bigger!