R. Deva Kumar’s firm Modern Graphics won the 2013 Star Printer of the Year award at the Ricoh National Awards for Excellence in Printing

The office of Modern Graphics off the Kaloor-Kadvanthara road is tiny. The many trophies, awards and citations seem to swallow much of the available space. The hum of printing machines provides the background score for R. Deva Kumar’s, managing partner Modern Graphics, story of how the firm became one of the State’s leading printing units.

Modern Graphics was awarded this year’s Star Printer of the Year (2013) in the Small Offset Printer category at the eighth Ricoh National Awards for Excellence in Printing. The awards were given by the All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP) in association with the Pune Press Owners Association (PPOA). The offset printing unit bagged a total of nine awards in different categories including a Special Jury Award. This out of a total of 1850 entries in 104 categories sent in by around 160 printers from all over the country.

The unit has bagged several awards over the years including the South Asia Print Congress award for excellence in printing. The printing units print material such as invitations, postcards, brochures, school books, calendars, diaries, directories, stationery, flyers, leaflets and posters.

Deva Kumar attributes the accolades that have come his firm’s way to his passion for printing technology. “Every job is important…irrespective of its size,” he says. An interest in graphics led him, under his uncle’s guidance, to form Modern Graphics in the late 80s. Surviving this long especially in an era of rapid technological development would have been tough had it not been for innovation every step of the way. Innovation combined with reliability has been the driving force, he says. “My clients know I will deliver on the appointed day, which is why they keep coming back to me.”

For instance, in the early 90s, he bought expensive equipment, an Apple laser printer, which cost him almost six lakh rupees. “In those days not many people had those. For quality printing, people went to Chennai. But thanks to some excellent printing firms in Kerala we (printers in Kerala) have been able to change that.” Sustaining and keeping up with ‘the times’ would have been impossible if not for keeping himself updated. This includes a comprehensive knowledge of options available in the market, be it the technology or the paper on which the matter is printed.

Updating technology

However he cautions against constantly updating technology. “Updating is good. But technology changes everyday. Machinery is expensive and therefore the key is improvising and knowing what your machine can do.” Deva Kumar along with his team spends time on research and development. “At times all it takes is ridding one process and voila you have a solution or a shortcut.” He credits his team for what his firm has been able to achieve. “My staff is the same. They have been with me from the beginning. Even if I am not in office they will handle the job perfectly.”

After close to 25 years in the business he says “clients are willing to pay more; they are more aware of quality.” The invitation for the Rolex showroom inauguration was one of the jobs undertaken by him and that was the one which won him the award in the invitation category. “It (the invite) was expensive but I was given the go ahead by the client once they saw what the end product would look like.”

Rather than verbally describe what the product would look like, he prefers to make samples so that the client gets an idea about the final product. The New Year greeting cards for Union Minister Prof. K. V. Thomas won an award in its category. He counts numerous Government departments and private enterprises among his clients.

Modern Graphics printed the Maldivian Government’s first official directory in 2001, “It was in Dhivehi, the official language of Maldives. It resembles Arabic and is written from left to right. We were able to execute the order; the numbers weren’t huge but it was prestigious.” This is just one of the challenging jobs that have come his way. But he is not willing to rest on his laurels. He says he has much more to do.

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