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Interview with Ian and Rob Cleary, CEOs of Adkote on their Gandi Innovations distribution

Following Adkote’s loss of the NUR distribution due to the HP acquisition of NUR and it’s subsequent taking over of it’s own distribution, it was not surprising that Adkote, who considered their distribution of NUR a huge success for all parties, putting themselves back onto the market for the distribution of an alternative major machinery supplier. Particularly one that fitted the comfort zone that Adkote had created with NUR.

It was during Drupa 08 in June that Adkote announced their distribution deal with Gandi Innovations.


 Ian Cleary

We asked brothers Ian and Rob Cleary, joint CEOs of Adkote about this major move and now that they were distributing printers from one of the most visionary companies in the industry, can they improve the support to future and existing Gandi users.

We also asked them to give us a brief insight into Adkote, a company that has its roots in laminating, and how it progressed into grand format printing equipment distribution and support.

Ian told us that he and his brother Rob formed Adkote in 1996 in Brookvale, Sydney to import specialty plastics for the print finishing industry – mainly thermal laminating films in roll and pouch form, and laminating equipment to work with these films.

“The plan succeeded and we grew rapidly but during those first few years we received many requests for wide format graphic films – including pressure sensitive over laminates, adhesives and self adhesive vinyls. So we expanded into this market as well,” explained Rob.

“Laminating is still a big part of our business and we see a bright future for laminating, we see the industry changing and adapting to the digital world. Thermal films are still a big part of our business but we are seeing strong growth in our wide format self adhesive side as well,” said Ian.

We asked them to comment on the improvements in ink longevity, scratch resistance, improved weathering as well as the availability of liquid laminates, and did they think that film laminates have a long term future?

Ian replied, “For sure. I think the idea of laminating having no future is like the idea of having a paperless office – impossible in reality.  Our customers are continually striving to create a point of difference - to create this in their culture and their output. Laminating a print gives our customers the ability to change the impact of their image via the finish. It also improves the longevity of the print – in terms of tear strength and UV resistance.”

Moving on, we asked what the guys what they thought were the major milestones in the company’s history.

“There are several milestones that have marked our growth in those first years, perhaps the chief of these would be the opportunity to acquire Quality Laminations in Sydney and Melbourne which we pursued and integrated those businesses into Adkote; then we could not overlook the highly prestigious contract we won to supply the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games with all laminated identification passes and laminators (over 500,000 security passes during the event).

“Another milestone that continues to benefit ourselves and our customers, as well as the environment was the opportunity to distribute the Bioflex banner range (frontlit, backlit, mesh and blockout). This followed concerns from our customer base about the impact of their output on the environment for the short and long term. Bioflex was the first and is still the benchmark that other manufacturers aim for.

“To compliment the Bioflex range we sought other additional banner products and were lucky enough to secure the Heytex range from Germany.

“Today we can offer our customers a very comprehensive range of wide format print media,” said Rob.

We moved into wide format printing equipment distribution and support following the approach by NUR Macroprinters in 2004.

We successfully managed the distribution of this popular range of printers utilising our own factory trained engineers as support. In fact, according to NUR, at the close of our relationship, we were more than simply successful, we were one of the world’s top distributors for the company. It was a sad day for us when HP decided to merge the distribution of the rebranded NUR range with their other grand format machines.

For the duration of our distributorship with NUR we sold and installed seventeen machines of various sizes and configurations. Machines that are still running today and are likely to continue to run for a long period of time.

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 The Gandi Aquajet 250

Now for Gandi Innovations. Most Australian printers will know that the Gandi distribution has moved around quite a bit in the last four years, from Product Distribution Australia, to Anitech, to Adco Engineering and now to Adkote.

We asked Ian and Rob, if Gandi approached them, or was it the other way around. “A bit of both”, was the answer. Discussions took place during Drupa in Germany and Adkote’s appointment followed.

According to the Cleary brothers they were extremely interested in obtaining the distribution rights since in their opinion, Gandi has a complete range of products – from entry level roll to roll and flatbed right up to production level equipment capable of printing 400-500 sqm per hour.

“Adkote was looking for a manufacturer that would respond to customer requirements, be flexible in their platforms and offerings and have attention to customer support and service foremost.” Said Ian.

“I met with Hary Gandy in Germany at Drupa – he made a great impression on me – his commitment is to support customers first  - it’s a great philosophy – its exactly what our customers need, continued Ian.

“From Gandi’s perspective, they were looking for a distributor who focused on the whole picture – sales, customer support and service, technical advice and ability. They needed a distributor with the whole package.

“Gandi has a huge market share worldwide and their latest range of equipment is bulletproof. I am very excited about the potential we have in Australia with Gandi and their latest machines,” said Rob.

Rob added that they were reviewing the possibility of also handling the distribution in New Zealand as well as the Pacific Islands, but no decision has been taken on this at this time.

Gandi has also announced the appointment of Richard Coldham as their regional manager and we asked Rob and Ian how they saw the relationship with Richard.

They replied by saying that he will be working with us closely to support the customers in our region in tandem with Adkote.

Ian added that Adkote have always had service technicians on staff supporting our wide format and grand format equipment install base – we wouldn’t have sold 17 NUR printers over the last couple of years if our service and support were anything less than 150%.

Its important for us (and for our customers) that we have this level and quality of support in house.

Adkote Pty Ltd