My name is Theo Pettaras. I’m Managing Director and CEO of Digitalpress in Sydney—Sydney, Australia. We’re primarily a digital printing business and we’ve been going now for six years. Prior to that, I had a large offset printing business; employed approximately 100 people, a fantastic business. But at that point in time my two other business partners were involved in the business. One of them particularly, wanted to invest more in heavy metal equipment. Obviously, coming from an offset printing background that’s what he wanted to do. I decided the time for me was to get out and go into a new project. So I set up Digitalpress.
I bought myself a brand new printing press, a Kodak NexPress, and the business was established in a suburb called Surry Hills, which is a relatively very trendy area of the city. It has the most amount of Macintosh computers per any zip code in Australia. So to give you an idea, it’s very creative, a very creative community and suburb. So what I wanted to do essentially was to create a new interest in print, and digital printing at that stage, although only six years ago, was still relatively new to a lot of companies. And there was a perception that digital was—the quality wasn’t great, you couldn’t do a lot with it. We changed that completely. We set up this machine in the shop which had a shop front window display. People would be walking by, designers, and they’d just come in and see this amazing machine.
And so what we used to do is treat it like a printing press so we could get any type of stock substrate, put anything on it, and start really experimenting. And what I had to do and the difficulty was championing that capability to go out and see people and show them what we can do. So six years later we employ still a small shop, a dozen people with the most awarded digital printing business in the country. I’m the chairman of an organization and president of GASAA, Graphic Arts Services Association of Australia. And also, I’m the chairman of a new initiative called the Australian Printovation Awards. It’s purely an awards initiative that allows printers to submit print work. It’s judged purely on the innovation.
And this is the sort of thing that we’re trying to encourage. We’re trying to encourage people, printers, to be more innovative in what they do. You know, I heard a talk today and they used the “c” word, commodity. And, you know, it frightens me sometimes when I hear that, and although it’s essential for our industry, we also have to find ways that we’re really seeing as total value-add. Certainly, print has to become very, very engaging, very tactile. I use a different “c” word and that’s collaboration. Collaboration is a very, very important thing and it’s essential for today’s printer. We need to collaborate with our clients. We need to collaborate with vice presidents of companies, designers, creative directors, all sorts of people, and we have to educate them.