If they say it cannot be done, we’ll do it

Whatever you do, please don’t call me a printer” were the opening words of Drago Zorec, managing director, D&D Global Group as we met in the impressive foyer of his Richmond, Victoria business. He and his wife, Dana, commenced their business in 1977 in much the same way as most in the industry, driven by very hard work.

In 2001, D&D expanded the core operation with its own new direction. Zorec’s insight and vision to change the front end of the printing industry gave birth to Studio 101, creating the first step to the cross-media company and beginning the serious task of differentiation in the graphic communications industry. The move from being a printer to becoming an integrated cross media provider, is simple to say, but not so easy to execute. Zorec says, “Changing the culture of the business is always a long, hard road and when one has the courage for change and progress becomes the norm and the culture. It meant, and means continuous training: making sure you have the right people in the right jobs.” Drago’s moto is break it, change it, and improvement and progress will come. He says, “This is the only way D&D has ever worked. Change, improve, innovate, create, be different,‘be above the noise’ has been our moto for over 20 years.”

The D&D integrated print solution includes all steps in the manufacturing chain, such as logistics and warehousing, print, pre media, digital and traditional prepress, art and design, photography, point of sale, content management, database management and postpress as well as collaborative proofing via the web.

Meeting Drago I was interested to ask which niche markets D&D Global as an integrated cross media provider was aiming to address, particularly since most in the print related industries are continually searching for their own specific niche. The answer I received was somewhat of a surprise in its simplicity and breadth of application.. Drago said, “The entire organisation is convinced that D&D’s niche is contained within one word, ‘quality’. We have no fear of attempting and succeeding with a product that others have said cannot be done’.

Simple to say, yet not so simple to achieve. I put D&D to the test, by asking what is it that sets them apart from their competitors, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the response.
The team at D&D has spent some seven years developing its expertise in pre media (working with RGB and CYMK), and in design. Out of this has come its own D&D MCP (multi colour process) which according to the people at D&D is a self developed multi colour technology using a 12-colour process. Satisfied existing clients (including a recent BMW car brochure) are the best advocates for extraordinary results including extreme colour brilliance and contrast, and heightened dimensionality. They point to the D&D MCP Metallic as an innovative print technology that employs the self developed printing process to create a metallic colour finish, that until now has been limited to solids and the standard PMS range.

Drago says the R&D invested in by D&D over seven years has “certainly been a hard, expensive yet rewarding road, but the results are truly outstanding”. Over the last few years D&D has entered MCP work into print awards in Australia and USA. He says, “The USA market has been very quick to recognise it. We have received US awards since 1998 and Australian market is yet to catch up”. These awards over the years gave Drago the encouragement to believe he was onto something unique. Early this year the organisation decided it was time to put its money where its collective mouth is, and placed a single entry in what is seen as the world’s most prestigious print contest, the US Premier Print Awards. The ultimate prize is the Benny, named after one of modern history’s most famous printers, and believer in high quality, Benjamin Franklin.

The entry was D&D’s house journal, ‘D&D & U.’ Success at the Bennys was immediate and multiple, and I might mention that D&D is not the first to have tasted success from the ‘land down under’ and unlikely to be the last. However I believe that the number of awards presented to the company at a single presentation gala evening might well take some beating. Other printers from Australia have won the Benny in various categories before. However D&D is the first Australian company to win the main award “They Said It Can’t Be Done” that was introduced three years ago. Each year three printers are nominated and the winner is announced on the night. This year judges had to choose from 5000 entries from 17 countries. The finalists were from Australia, USA and Mexico.

The D&D&U publication enjoyed success in the following categories:
o A Benny for Best of Category for use of environmentally sound materials. The judges commented, ‘if environmentally sound printing can look this good, we’ll all have to do more of it’
o Certificate of merit for special innovation
o Certificate of merit for print and graphic arts self promotion
o Award of recognition for service booklet and brochures
o A Benny – In the ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done’ award. D&D was one of three finalists chosen from global representation. This category was introduced three years ago for companies who exceed limitations and expectations when facing the huge number of challenges faced on the toughest of jobs.
This year at the awards reception held at the lavish international ballroom at The Fairmont Hotel, Chicago, D&D was awarded the Printing Industry of America’s most prestigious accolade, claiming first prize and collecting a second Benny.

The ‘They said it couldn’t be done’ award category seeks to honour a challenging project with singular technical requirements. Each entrant not only submits a print sample but a brief essay explaining the production challenge and how the company met that challenge. The judges not only review the sample for technical excellence in print reproduction, but also consider the demands of the task and how they were met.

The Premier Award judges were most impressed. They said in the 2003 competition the toughest category was ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done’. They went on to say and I quote directly, “This winner did the impossible. Three press passes on every form, maintaining the geometric integrity of the substrate. Stochastic screening and their own trademark metallic colour finish, combined with multiple MCP colours produced the most outstanding brochure of the competition. It was also the first time in the history of the USA awards that one printer (D&D) has won five awards with the same entry.”

To add to the sense of occasion and significance, Drago, whilst aware that he was to be awarded with a Benny, for the Environmentally Sound Printing category, did not know that he was to be recognised with PIA’s most prestigious recognition in print with the ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done’ Benny. This award was announced on the night and Drago also had a family surprise with the unexpected attendance of his wife and their daughter arriving from London especially for the occasion, to watch their husband and father receive a standing ovation from his worldwide peers.

The Bennys is a joint venture between GATF (Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) and PIA (Printing Industries of America) and is easily the most sought after print award worldwide. The Bennys began in 1950, and 53 years later continue to grow in stature and prestige. D&D’s success is by no means the first by an Australian printer with three Bennys being awarded to Australian printers in the last five years. But, the ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done’ award was a first for an Australian company, and so far as I have been able to determine the first awarded to a non-American company since inception.

D&D is the first company outside of USA to have been awarded America’s most prestigious print accolade. Given the quality as well as environmentaly friendly print in Australia I am certain that it will not be the last.

Over the past 20 years many gold awards have been presented by the judges of Australia’s own National Print Awards, but they have never seen the degree of encouragement that the Premier Print Awards offer to Benny winners to leverage their success. They encourage the winners to produce complimentary awards for customers and employees. They also encourage press releases, encourage the use of web sites, encourage them to consider adding a tagline or Premier Print logo to company stationery, to develop award sales kits, even to think about planning of marketing campaign around the success.
Perhaps our own NPA can take this on board as an adjunct to their own activities, goodness knows, we in Australia need to add an edge to our own low key marketing activities.

Benjamin Franklin, was the first commercial printer in America, and is well renowned for one of his profound statements; ‘well done is better than well said.’ D&D needs to be congratulated for its effort, it has certainly done the industry proud, and despite winning this very impressive award, has proven that whilst the degree of difficulty might well be high, it proved that the impossible was achievable. Who can blame the company for adopting a new motto: “If they say it cannot be done, we’ll do it”.

Rod Spencer is a 40 year print industry veteran. He was Heidelberg ANZ sales director for many years and is now an industry consultant.

Contact Rod Spencer via email: rod@i-grafix.com

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