LEARNING CURVE | Bukani Print stands test of time
A long-standing partnership with a shared vision, trust in God, and self-belief has seenBukani Print become a household name in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Adapting with the times and placing quality and customers at the fore over the last four decades has seen Iqbal Sain and his partner Alan Taylor grow their business, which has stood the test of time.
Please share some background on yourselves and how the business was started?
Bukani Print is a partnership between Alan Taylor and myself, Iqbal Sain.
We both started out in the 1970s, and coming in line with government empowerment policies we merged our existing businesses in 1995 under the name Bukani Print.
Alan started as a bookbinding apprentice, and I was skilled in silk screening and lithography.
We found the need for quality, glossy brochure printing in PE.
We invested in print machinery [15 years ago], giving us the edge in full colour printing, and 40 years later, we are still around.
What is your core service?
Our core business is full colour litho printing, with full services also offered in printing of invoice books, business cards, digital printing, rubber stamps, stationery and now recently Covid-19 items.
Where was the idea born?
After Grade 10, I got a job at a screening company.
I learnt about the printing trade and how to do estimating.
I later [1980s] was offered a printing and rubber stamp business which was rundown at the time.
The deal was that I could pay it off over five years with postdated cheques.
So I built the business up over time and by the time it was paid up, it made an income to sustain my family.
It was hard work. We still do rubber stamps today under the trade name of Eastern Province Rubber Stamp.
Alan started as an apprentice bookbinder, joined the family business, PE Book Binders once he qualified, and took the business to new heights by complimenting it with print.
With his huge network of friends in athletics, he quickly built up a reputable company with his dad.
He then added full colour printing to the existing business, which was once again a huge success as there were not many print shops in PE at the time that could offer a one-stop print shop.
We approached each other in the ’90s with an idea of a merger, in line with government empowerment policies, and that’s how the idea was born.
What makes your business unique?
Bukani Print has skilled staff with more than 70 years’ experience in print, we are also well-equipped to turn around printing in a very short notice period.
If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
Print shops are very high in gearing, because of machinery being expensive, but depending on your entry level, you could start at home with a colour printer laptop and a copy machine.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?
With machinery being very expensive, you need a good business plan to secure funding from banks.
Coupled with funding, you need to secure firm contacts from clients that will meet your payment conditions.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?
Once you have an idea of what you would like to do, just do it, you must have self-belief.
Believe in yourself and put your trust in God.
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations?
Ever-changing technologies and materials — because of it being weighted against exchange rates, prices are never constant.
What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?
No business day will be the same, being OK if it happens and OK if it doesn’t, is a powerful place to be.
How do you define success in your business?
The fact that we have survived for 40 years is testament that customers are our first priority, with best quality, on-time delivery, with the right prices.
Some of our clients are still doing business with us since our inception.
What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
We are committed to giving clients our best service, be it a small client or a corporate client.
What kind of advertising do you do?
As both myself and Alan are keen roadrunners and cyclists, we do sponsorships through clubs whereby we sponsor them with printing and so on.
We also do radio adverts every quarter. Most of our advertising is done by word-of-mouth.
What is your company’s vision?
We would like maintain our presence in the market place for some time, not only offering job security, but also contributing to social upliftment for the underprivileged.
How many people do you employ?
Do you have any plans for expanding the business?
Right now, we are riding this storm out. I am also reaching retirement age.
How did you acquire funding for the business?
With banks and self-funding.
What are the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?
The market is very populated, the volumes required for printing locally is small, making pricing an issue.
Sadly, many local companies do a considerable amount of printing out of town, which contributes to unemployment in PE.
How do you motivate staff?
Our motto to staff, is that the business is not mine, it’s ours..
Most of my staff have been with us for more than 20 years.
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