Sandra Duarte knows Centrum Printing inside and out and after nearly 13 years with the printing and packaging company, she is now running the show having been promoted to Chief Executive Officer.
For Duarte and Centrum Printing managing director Percy Vij, the timing of the announcement was crucial – especially as the industry continues to reel from the devastation of COVID-19.
The 47-year-old mother-of-two has learnt the industry from the ground up having started her working life as a 17-year-old at a publishing company in Sydney with no formal qualifications other than bucket-loads of enthusiasm and a passion to learn.
After studying marketing and printing technology, Duarte went on to become the general manager of the place where she got her start – The Total Tourism Group – and learnt just about everything there was to learn from production through to accounts.
“I wasn’t afraid to get my hands dirty and I wasn’t afraid to do any menial tasks because I think every task is important and says something about any business,” Duarte told Sprinter while reflecting on her career.
Nearly 13 years ago she made the leap from publishing to printing joining the family-owned Centrum Printing and working across each department gaining a thorough understanding of the business, its staff and how everything worked.
To hear a video snippet about Duarte’s journey, please click here.
Duarte has been fulfilling the role of CEO for some time now, but given the crisis that is gripping the industry and having overcome some personal challenges, she felt now was the time to put herself out there and show her cards.
“I do a bit of everything and have my finger in lots of pies. I’m the CEO and so at the end of the day I am responsible for how things are running and I do whatever is necessary to make sure everything is happening as it should,” Duarte said.
“Given it is a family owned business and we are small, there are no hierarchies so I get involved because I have that handle on when things need to be done.”
Duarte also advocates for Australian print and its role in manufacturing.
She volunteers for Inspiring The Future Australia which gives her the opportunity to go and speak at high schools, TAFE colleges and art schools to promote the possibilities that come from a career in print.
“We do this because we want to create opportunity and growth for the next generation and for future generations because when we are no longer here, we need the industry to continue,” Duarte said.
“I think it’s important that we try to educate that next generation.
“Keeping local manufacturing alive in Australia and educating young people that this industry is actually quite high-tech is important. There is so much technology in printing that most people are not aware of.”
There is no doubt business has been tough since the coronavirus hit but, Duarte says the sting of a drop in commercial print was largely dulled by Centrum’s shift to point of sale production and packaging.
The company has the unique capability to print large format offset to a maximum size of 1620 x 1200 sheetfed offset due to its two KBA six colour presses: a 162A and a 145 which Duarte arranged the purchase of at drupa in 2016.
It also has the capability to print UV and aqueous, while also offering inhouse celloglazing for the larger sheet size as well.
“It is business as usual, however we have had to adjust our sails according to the wind,” she said.
“June is a generally a slower month and the past few months have been somewhat challenging.
“However, in terms of point of sale and packaging, we are finding that we’re getting a lot more interest because obviously the restrictions with overseas manufacturing has seen companies turn to local suppliers.”
These adjustments have allowed Centrum to weather the storm with no staff redundancies required.
“Our business over the last few years has changed and moved more into the point of sale and packaging areas so that’s an area of growth for us,” she said.
“I’ve maintained all staff. I’ve made sure we haven’t had any redundancies and we’re still running two shifts.”
Duarte is also open to collaborating with other printers.
“I think there needs to be more collaboration with printers utilising each other’s skills and equipment in order to keep us going through tough times because an investment in new equipment isn’t an option when times are hard,” she said.
“So if we have a capability that could be of benefit to another printer to utilize and up-sell to their existing customers, then we could definitely help as we also rely on them to help us with areas of expertise which we’re not so familiar with either.
“The industry needs to work together during these tough times.”
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