CEO’s from both the printing and signage industries shared ideas on how to navigate your businesses during and after these uncertain times in a webinar hosted by Sign Africa on 21 April. They shared best business practices, ideas on innovation, opportunities, changes; industry trends and much more.

The webinar was moderated by Dyelan Copeland, Publisher of Sign Africa, and the online panel included:

• Rob Makinson, Midcomp.
• Raymond Waldeck, Kalideck.
• Bob Glenister, Roland.
• Wessel van der Merwe, Maizey.

Attendees had an opportunity to ask the panellists questions. Those who couldn’t attend can watch the full length webinar here [INSERT LINK].

The main trends and insights include:

How can businesses stay productive during this time?

Glenister emphasised on the importance of looking for opportunities, especially those of branding, ‘everyone can get involved – get out there and say ‘how can I help you?”

Waldeck added that companies must focus on remaining relevant; while Makinson said businesses should step outside their comfort zones and think outside the box.  ‘You will be successful in the long run, because success won’t just come to you while you sit back and relax,’ said Makinson.

We’ve heard many iterations that the world will be different and we need to do things differently going forward. What does this mean for the printing and signage industry? What does the future look like?

Without the proverbial ‘crystal ball’, this is not an easy question to answer but all four panellists offered the following advice moving forward:

‘Change is a part of life, although it’s not always anticipated. People can share ideas, present virtually and turn into reality, not too much needs to change,’ said van der Merwe.

‘Be positive, ask how you can be essential, and look at ways you can help the less advantaged. COVID-19 didn’t just create change, there has always been change,’ said Glenister.

Waldeck echoed Glenister in saying, ‘The only constant is change. To remain constant, you must change.’

‘So much can be done remotely. We’ve learned that people don’t have to come to our offices (in order to conduct business),’ said Makinson.

How should one deal with the financial impact COVID-19 has inflicted on all companies and individuals?

Waldeck said that while it is different for all businesses, he advised on the security and consistency of supply, communication and staying realistic.

Glenister advised on being practical, but even more importantly to identify who owes you money, and who you owe money to. Resolving these issues now will remove many problems in the long run.

Makinson’s advice was to communicate with landlords, banks and insurance companies, and van der Werwe agreed in stating that good communication means being in good standing with your customer.

How long will the economy take to recover from COVID-19?

Waldeck believes that the economy will recover due to the increase in demand after the lockdown when things go back to ’normal’ and that South Africa could rebound, while Glenister said that the time frame is up to all of us, emphasising that we need to pull together and have the right attitude.

In light of the drop in production from China, could we see an increase in local production in terms of ‘Made in Africa’ items?

Van der Merwe believes it is possible as we’re an innovative nation, and it can remedy unemployment, but it does not come without challenges such as strikes.

Glenister’s response was that we could see an increase, but that we need to focus on quality.

According to Waldeck, we must practise ‘Made In Africa’ relentlessly and we are certainly able to do it, but we must also be careful not to push foreign import away – we must be very specific with what we import and export.

Makinson said that while we may not be on the same level in terms of cutting machines, etc. with China, and that while there are huge volumes of sportswear in China, the manufacture of sportswear can be done here in South Africa, at the same standard of quality.

What impact will the current exchange rate have on our industry?

Makinson said that for the time being, everyone must expect increased costs in print production and POS goods.

Do you think customers’ priorities on visual communication output will change – that is, what they request and buy from signage and print shops? What products do you think will be more in demand post-lockdown and during the COVID-19 crisis?

‘There are always changes in the market – just adapt to the change and investigate what customers want,’ said Glenister.

‘The promo space will be busy, so we must think of the way forward, and determine between the ‘nice to have’ and the ‘have to have’. Some markets will recover quicker than others,’ said van der Merwe.

‘We have currently seen a shift from traditional advertising to awareness advertising; there are now lots of opportunities that you would never have seen before – certain budgets will need to be modified,’ said Makinson.

‘Runs will be shorter, and more specific,’ said Waldeck.

Parting shots

‘The pandemic has brought our nation closer, we’re all in the same box. We’re in this together and we will get out of this together. We will all need each other after this, and at Maizey, we are here for you,’ said van der Merwe.

‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,’ said Glenister, ‘take a step guys, we can make it beautiful.’

‘Be the future, stay agile and stay positive,’ said Waldeck.

‘Life goes on, we’re a positive nation and have to do things differently,’ said Makinson. ‘A business with good staff always succeeds. Don’t sit back, be proactive. I believe we will see the Rand recover.’

Due to the positive responses and feedback from attendees, Africa Print aims to host more informative and educational webinars.

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