Botswana's printing sub-sector is highly contested. Competition is also hard given the fact that some of the local customers prefer to get priting done from across the border. Nonetheless, a new company, The Print Lab has promised to revolutionse the sector. Below, BOTSWANA GUARDIAN speaks to the company's Team Leader, ONTIRETSE MOKGOJANE on why he thinks they will be a player to reckon with now and well into the future
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: In a nutshell, introduce The Print Lab? ONTIRETSE MOKGOJANE : As The Print Lab, we are a home grown print house that seeks to take large media and artistic specialist printing to another level in Botswana. In particular, we focus on great craftmanship and high-quality print. We have positioned ourselves as the preferred supplier who provides easily accessible quality that clients with impeccable taste often order from South Africa and overseas.
The Print Lab is part of artistic avenue group of companies.
GUARDIAN: What kind of services do you offer?
MOKGOJANE: For institutions, we do large media printing which includes billboards, banners, mural, vehicle branding, telescopic flags, wallpaper and office interiors. Design and print of commercial and construction signage, printing of all types of clothing merchandise. For individuals we print large frame family photos and stickers of all kinds.
GUARDIAN: What prompted the formation of the company?
MOKGOJANE: As already mentioned, we were motivated and prompted by the large number of clients who prefer to seek the right quality and workmanship in South Africa and overseas. We have also had a bad experience on this front through some of the companies that we own in the marketing and signage value chain. Simply put, it was time for the birth of The Print Lab and we are never looking back.
GUARDIAN: Who funded the business?
MOKGOJANE: The business was funded from the directors’ pockets and continues in that path of lean capitalisation. We believe that this is the best method to grow a business sustainably while reducing its risk of failure.
GUARDIAN: Who are the owners of The Print Lab?
MOKGOJANE: The Print Lab is a sister company to 50 Miles, Pantone Reign and Stonecliff.
GUARDIAN: What are some of the challenges that the company faced during its formative months of existence?
MOKGOJANE: The main challenge in this business remains the management of cashflow which is exacerbated by late payments by clients who make large orders. We try by all means, day and night to not have this cripple our business.
GUARDIAN: The local economy is awash with both small and large printing firms. As The Print Lab what is the company’s competitive edge?
MOKGOJANE: We have a sharp focus on great workmanship and customer delight as the driver of our client service experience. These two continue to win us more clients and also allows us to price our products at sustainable levels.
GUARDIAN: What are some of the major projects that the company has executed to date?
MOKGOJANE: We have been fortunate enough to have done production work for Citizen Entreprenurial Development Agency (CEDA), Institute of Development Management (IDM), Coca Cola, Botswana Tourism Organisation, Babereki Insurance as well as Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited.
GUARDIAN: More and more companies are now shifting to digital platforms. How is this shift expected to impact The Print Lab going forward?
MOKGOJANE: Digital platforms are indeed a force to reckon with now and in the future but as long as we have the built environment and people moving about in cities and towns, the need for large media and signage will forever be there and we are looking to serve this need while continuing to evolve with time.
GUARDIAN: In terms of production capacity what is the company able to produce in a single day?
MOKGOJANE: At maximum capacity our printers can produce 40 3m by 12m billboards and some banners at high-definition print quality on a regular work day.
GUARDIAN: What do you think government can do to promote youth-owned enterprises like The Print Lab?
MOKGOJANE: As previously mentioned, the biggest challenge in this business is cashflow which is a direct result of flow of new business and correct or sustainable pricing. As such, Government as a large institution can assist with continued, firm policies of purchasing from citizens and youth owned businesses and paying us on time
GUARDIAN: Where do you source your raw materials? THEBEETSILE: We source our raw materials locally, South Africa and from Asian suppliers.
GUARDIAN: How many jobs have been created by the company?
MOKGOJANE: The Print Lab currently employs seven employees. As the company grows, we are definitely going to hire more staff members.
GUARDIAN: What does the future hold for The Print Lab?
MOKGOJANE: We have a lot of ambition and we are believers in growing along the value chain and expanding geographically. There is going to be a lot of that in the coming years. We will be inviting the media and stakeholders to our ground breaking expansions in the medium term.