Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil is historically known for the determination and bravery of European immigrants who arrived there and battled to build their own livelihoods. Their struggle and courage is also linked to the history of Gráfica Rex, a printing firm located in the Brazilian city of Nova Candelaria.
It all started in 1979 when José Luiz Lermen decided to leave his old job and invest in a small printshop called Indústria Gráfica Sul located in Boa Vista do Buricá. Lermen, who at the time did not know much about the graphic arts industry, was delighted with the little pocket calendars printed and sold by Gráfica Sul. "It was not long before I realized that those calendars followed a pattern, they were all the same and the graphic arts companies just changed the title page," says Lermen. "So I started in this business with only one employee and it was a difficult time."
He regarded the initial difficulties as challenges. "I needed the company to be successful and we grew little by little," he remembers. In 1982 Lermen acquired a second graphic arts company in the city of Horizontina. "It was a bigger market that offered us more opportunities," he says. Two years later, in 1984, he bought a third printing company Rex Indústria Gráfica in Santa Rosa. "That was the origin of our current company," says Lermen. "After a while I closed the printing companies in Boa Vista do Buricá and Horizontina, and we only stayed with the Santa Rosa unit which we renamed Gráfica Rex."
From commercial to packaging production
At the beginning only one and two-colour used presses were in operation. In 1986 the company acquired its first offset machine, however, it was only in 1994 that the history of Gráfica Rex took a turn: "We started leaving the commercial printing segment to focus fully on packaging. This gave us more corporate strength and a constant turnover of more jobs," says Lermen. "The professional structure in place since 1994 has been the basis for our growth." This growth was boosted again in 2005 when Gráfica Rex expanded over the borders of Rio Grande do Sul to win two major customers in the automotive segment in São Paulo state. "For both companies we managed a project to supply stock and this led us to grow and invest in larger markets, such as São Paulo," says José Luiz Lermen.
As a stable and well-structured firm it was time for Gráfica Rex to update its production facilities. In 2009 the firm acquired its first five-colour offset press plus coater and in 2011 it was time for further new investments. It was precisely then when the company already had the ISO 9001 certification and was ready for a big jump that the company started a partnership with KBA.
According to Lermen other presses from different manufacturers were evaluated before the decision was made. José Luiz Lermen: "At the time KBA had implemented a new structure in Brazil and that was very important for our choice. Moreover, the technology of the Rapida 105 is outstanding. Our makeready times fell from an hour and a half to thirty minutes. This is very significant as any time when we were not printing was lost money and profitability. With the Rapida 105 we stood at the frontline of the graphic arts industry. It is very versatile and has brought us much joy. A very important detail is that I can print in one colour, bicolour, three colours, four colours etc., as it's easy to disengage the inking units. When I don't use a printing unit, there is no expense."
Expoprint press rounds off press fleet
Other features mentioned by Lermen as highlights of the Rapida 105 include automatic plate changing, a high print quality and low waste levels. "We have to reduce costs. How is this done? By optimising production," he says. The ultimate proof of Gráfica Rex’s satisfaction with KBA was ratified this year with a new investment. The firm received the five-colour Rapida 105 on show at Expoprint in São Paulo immediately after the trade ended. It has the same configuration as the firm’s first KBA press, but it features the latest technology.
"We are located in a region far away from the major centres. Therefore, technical support and reliability are key," says Lermen. "The Rapida 105 never lets us down. Furthermore, Koenig Bauer do Brasil stands out from the crowd with their high quality of service. Whenever we need help they respond with technicians on site or online." The two Rapida 105s in operation at Gráfica Rex together print a monthly average of 8 million cardboard and folding carton boxes for many different purposes