ROTOCON is thrilled that customer visits to Nairobi, Kenya, in May and November 2021 helped lay the groundwork for its successful debut at the Propak East Africa trade show held at the Sarit Centre earlier this month.
‘We have already witnessed an appetite for tooling and consumables with customers regularly ordering Wink flexible dies, print cylinders and gears,’ reports John Lomberg, director for Market & Business Development. ‘Now over 100 potential customers visited our stand and 25 indicated interest in investing in a flexographic or digital printing press and an accompanying rewinder as the fight for on-shelf presence and differentiation intensifies for food and beverage products.’
During the show, ROTOCON extended invitations to several Kenyan customers to visit its factory in Johannesburg where the team produces high-precision solid rotary dies, flexible dies, magnetic print cylinders and accessories as well as to engage with South African customers at their facilities. ‘This type of visit will provide them unique insights into how we operate, what we stand for as well as the benefits of our partnership approach,’ John remarks.
‘What sets ROTOCON apart from other suppliers is our approach to building sustainable, value-adding partnerships with customers to help them create a successful business in the long term,’ explains group CEO, Michael Aengenvoort.
‘Our team practices an open-minded approach where we take the time to understand and assess customers’ needs and recommend the ideal solution. This service includes the ability to custom build a ROTOCON ECOLINE machine for them – which carefully balances our quality specifications with competitive pricing and future upgrades – and also supply the accompanying consumables.’
John explains that the Kenyan label printing market is currently segmented into the five dominant role players, medium-sized enterprises and an increasing number of startups being created by former employees of the big five. ‘ROTOCON is pleased to have engaged meaningfully with Line Art Solutions, Sky Labels and Mannipal International at the show, as well as with those starting small businesses who are very interested in investing in pre-owned printing presses as well as the ECOLINE four-color flexo printing press with UV and IR curing units and accompanying rewinder.’
ROTOCON believes that the basis of its success in Kenya will be created by holding hands with the market newcomers, sharing knowledge, support, guidance and marketing materials to help them grow to be able to invest in eight-colour presses in the future. ‘The challenge and opportunity for us lay in how to structure a solution that is competitive and robust enough to cater for their entry into the market and future growth needs,’ John notes.
As part of this educational role, ROTOCON is in the process of joining and collaborating with the Institute of Packaging Professionals Kenya around where the industry should go and why, and what process it should follow to get there. ‘We would like, for instance, to sponsor or host conferences along with our 15 principals about how label printers and their brand owner customers can compete more effectively on shelf by pushing labels to the next level through foiling, embossing, die-cutting and other finishing techniques,’ Michael reports. ‘In addition, ROTOCON offers online training around dies and tooling that educates customers around care, maintenance and optimal use to obtain more value from their printing and finishing equipment.’
Local representation and support
By the beginning of July, ROTOCON plans to appoint a local representative, who has an established history and working relationship with label printers and the operators on the factory floor. ‘Her presence will ensure customers are responded to more quickly with improved turnaround times through collecting tooling and consumables from customs and delivering it to them. In addition, she would like to be at the heart of their businesses by sharing what’s happening in the market, assessing their printing press needs and explaining how they can use ROTOCON’s technologies to their benefit. In the future, ROTOCON plans to offer a contract-based technical service on call in Nairobi for machine emergencies.
Although it’s early days with this green shoots development, ROTOCON’s management team is excited about the huge growth potential that could come from the East African region. ‘Kenya represents one of the fastest-growing economies and will act as a nexus for us to reach customers in the neighboring countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia and grow our presence in those markets,’ Michael concludes.
IMAGE CAPTION: ROTOCON directors John Lomberg and Pascal Aengenvoort were joined at the Propak East Africa stand by Marius van Lith, regional sales director of MPS Systems (left) and Roger Meierhofer, area sales manager of PANTEC GS Systems (second from right). They attribute the successful event to an intensive marketing campaign that included a presence in the show’s daily newspaper, social media posts, invitations to delegates to attend John’s presentation about changing industry trends and customer demands, and quality branded bags for easy carrying of brochures and marketing materials.
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