Graham Pitts (L) and Dave Pitts, KGK Genix
The 3.2m hybrid UV LED marks the company’s tenth VUTEk printer in a line-up of EFI technology that stretches back over 20 years
CMYUK, Shrewsbury: Creative Design Agency, KGK Genix has taken delivery of an EFI VUTEk h5 from CMYUK. This 3.2m wide, hybrid UV LED model is the tenth VUTEk printer that the company has purchased over a 20-year period. It is both a testament of the trust that it has with the VUTEk brand and a confirmation of the close relationships KGK Genix has with CMYUK and EFI.
“They know us, we know them. Our relationship with Jon Price [CMYUK Group Finance and Operations Director] and Robin East [CMYUK Group Commercial Business Director] goes back even before CMYUK. We bought our very first printer from Jon twenty-five years ago,” says Graham Pitts, KGK Genix, Group MD.
“Buying the h5 was a natural choice for us. We’re so familiar with the VUTEk family it made sense for us to stick with what we know. That said, we researched the market because you have to be aware of other technology out there, but we didn't see anything that was close to the quality and production speeds that the h5 can produce,” he adds.
The h5 has been installed in the company’s Thundridge site where it has replaced two EFI VUTEk GS3250 Pro printers. Close-up high quality retail work is the KGK Genix signature, and the rationale for investing in this new printer is to increase output quality whilst maintaining production speeds.
“We didn’t buy the h5 to increase volume, we purchased it to run at higher quality and not lose any speed in doing so. We’ll see our clients benefitting from the best quality that the h5 can produce – 1200 dpi but running at equivalent speeds of our old machines that were printing 600 dpi,” says Graham.
The replaced VUTEk GS3250 Pro printers despite being ten and six -years old respectively, are still very much working machines. The older of the two was purchased by a Polish print shop, while the younger has been moved to the company’s other production facility in Harlow where it joins an EFI VUTEk GS 3250-LX Pro and other equipment including an EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340i dye sublimation printer.
“Because we’re a family business and a very close-knit team, everybody looks after the machines as if they’re their own because they know how important they are. Our printers are always really well maintained and no expense is spared on that side of things,” says KGK Genix Group Operations Director, Dave Pitts.
The h5 – a perfect company fit
The answer’s yes, so what’s the question? is the KGK Genix unofficial motto. The company prides itself on extra-mile customer service and is willing to push boundaries to produce unique creative solutions that sets it apart from the competition. In recognition of this, it has been the recipient of several accolades, the most recent being the Best Use of Graphics at the VM and Display Awards in 2020, Best Seasonal or Temporary Display at the Creative Retail Awards 2021, Best Window Display & Best Shop in Shop/Pop-up at POPAI Awards 2021. This year again , it was shortlisted in three different categories: Best Use of Instore Graphic/Signage; Best Christmas Window/s in a Multiple/Boutique; and Best Window Graphic.
The h5 will help to underpin the company’s ethos. Its multi-layer printing capability, for example, allows KGK Genix to jump from the regular 3-layer work it was producing on its older GS printers to single pass, 9-layer printing. This imparts any print with a textured dimensional surface finish that is tactile and visually impactful.
Historically, the company has produced volumes of two-sided vinyl graphics, which it would print as a 2-step process – outputting the first layer, then the next, and sandwiching the two together for a double-sided hanging display. With the h5 this process can be done in one hit, printing to one side but getting a double-sided image, thereby slashing the cost of the materials and reducing installation times on site.
Another advantage of the h5 is the option to work in Fast-4 mode, which gives operators the ability to quickly and automatically use the eight inks channels in a faster 2 x CMYK configuration.
“Fast-4 was very limited on applications from our old GS printers but we can do that now. Recently, we had a 750-sheet run for a retail customer, the h5 had not yet been installed so we had to run the job on one of our old printers. If we’d used the h5 we would have smashed the prints out really quickly but still at high quality. With the h5 you cover the whole spectrum, it’s really versatile,” says Dave.
Like many businesses all over the world Covid bought with it a mixture of contention and opportunity. KGK Genix had a number of its own challenges including closing down its Tottenham-based premises and forced to make a large number of people redundant. Yet Lockdown also gave the company a chance to reassess its goals, reset its business practices for a healthier and more profitable future.
“Our post COVID vision is different to our pre-COVID one. It focusses more on the type of work we want to do and service. Everyone says hindsight is a wonderful thing and to a degree Covid has given us the chance to use these insights right now – what you could have done better and what you shouldn’t do. It’s about operating in a slightly different way, being more decisive, creating greater structure, hiring the right people, and not overexpanding the workforce. It’s working smarter not harder, and the VUTEk h5 is definitely part of that strategy,” says Graham.
Continued eco drive
KGK Genix works with world renowned brands and therefore has naturally evolved a greater sustainable awareness and has achieved carbon neutral status. It is working with specialist organisation, Carbon Footprint to regularly appraise emissions and then offset them.
It has changed all its lighting to LED panels, upgraded company cars to electric vehicles and reduced mobility between the various company sites. The adoption of the h5 offers a greener print solution with low VOCs, lower power consumption (up to 82% less energy consumption when compared with conventional arc mercury lamps), and fewer consumable parts. It also increases uptime and productivity with instant on/off and less maintenance. Installing a single printer and removing two others, means that the company has regained valuable floor space, enough for a forklift to navigate around the facility aiding increased efficiency.
During Lockdown, the senior team took the time to research and source more sustainable products. It has adopted PVC-free alternatives from CMYUK’s extensive materials range including sustainable polyester textiles for sublimation, a market application that has flourished in recent years. By the end of this year, KGK Genix aims to have green alternatives for all the materials it offers.
At this year’s VM & Display Show in London (5-6 April), the company showcased a variety of its eco-responsible solutions including tables, countertops, seating and cardboard engineered products, highlighting the growth uplift for this trend.
The buzz is back
At present the company is working to approximately 75% of its pre-Covid levels, and is finding that with its retail and exhibition clients there is a growing appetite for corporate fitouts as employers seek to entice staff back to the workplace.
“We’re seeing increasing demand for one-piece wallpapers, large fabric frames as well as weird and wonderful office graphics as opposed to traditional frosted vinyl dots. There’s a push to be much more creative and that’s where we fit the bill,” says Graham.
Says Dave, “Our clients are far more positive now and that’s the main thing. If we weren’t hearing that market buzz, we would not have had the confidence to invest to the levels that we have. From Day 1, VUTEk printers have been crucial to our business and we are looking forward to getting started with the h5.”
Commenting on this latest investment, Robin East said, “We have a very special relationship with the Pitts family that spans two decades. As well as long-standing customers they are friends to both Jon and I, and we are very grateful for the significant business they have given us over the years. When you walk around their extremely impressive facilities, it’s gratifying to have been part of their successful journey.”