Making its mark

Barkev is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is on target according to its strategic plan. The focus is on the printing industry with specific emphasis on packaging, based on the expertise and knowledge of the people who form the foundation of the company. Kevin Allan, a gravure printer by trade, progressed through the ranks until he founded Barkev with his wife, Barbara, when he saw a gap in the market to supply specialised imported consumables to the printing trade. The company has since expanded from a small Durban-based operation to having a branch in Cape Town and one in Gauteng. To complement the product range, a manufacturing plant was established for coatings and cleaning products for water-based inks. This was followed by an engineering division for the manufacture and sharpening of guillotines, recycling blades, serrated blades, rotary blades, bag handle dies and log slitters. The last addition to the group was a CNC engineering component division to assist with the precision manufacture of items for engineering. The Proudly South African company is family-run, with sons Marc and Brett heading up group marketing sales and engineering manufacture respectively at the head office, while Kevin’s brother Michael manages the Western Cape branch – each bringing with them their own experience in the printing industry. ‘We pride ourselves on the fact that we have a strong nucleus of people who have served their time and have a thorough understanding of print,’ commented Kevin. ‘Collectively, we have over 250 years in the industry.’ Branching out In its new 2500 square metre building, situated in Pinetown, Durban, are all the KZN divisions, including Head Office, KZN branch, cleaning chemicals and Barkev Engineering, which will be merged with QDE Components. And then there are the branches in Gauteng and the Cape. Although firmly established in the packaging industry supplying a host of products for the printing processes for flexible packaging, sheetfed and carton board packaging, silkscreen, narrow web flexo, self-adhesive labels and corrugated boxes, the company is also focused on capturing a foothold in textiles where the same or similar cutting systems are used, and in the food and beverage industry, through its specialised product and service offerings. These include manufacturing and sharpening of serrated knifes, specialised blades of all shapes and sizes for processing product and in the packaging thereof. In 2009, Barkev acquired the ailing PSG for its knife sharpening facilities in Umbilo. However, with the acquisition of more equipment, it soon outgrew these premises and needed more space to grow. In 2010, Barkev acquired QDE with component CNC manufacturing facilities in Glen Anil. In 2012, all KZN operations were moved into the 2500 square metre factory, this evolution has included rebranding, with a new company logo designed by AYM Printers (a small print shop in Pinetown); new signage – including the mantra ‘Go big or go home’; and getting the staff complement of around 65 more involved. The company opened offices in Cape Town in 1998 which is headed by Michael, followed by an office in Gauteng during 1999 which was managed by Marc from 2007 to 2013 (where we achieved significant growth) to service its existing clients and develop new relationships throughout the country. In 2014, Marc returned to the head office to take on the responsibility for marketing sales. In 2003, Barkev signed a sole distributorship agreement with Etirama (a narrow web label machine maker) and Brett was enlisted to assist with the support and installations. He heads the engineering and components department which houses six knife grinders up to 4.5m in length that offer rotary and surface grinding – as well as ten CNC machines for component manufacturing. The company also manufactures a host of granulator blades for plastic and fibre recycling and also HSS serrated cut-off blades for various packaging machines. ‘We’re far more niched than our competitors,’ commented Brett. ‘Yet we’re a one-stop-shop of products and services for all our flexible packaging, textile and machine manufacturing clients.’ Through its agreements with several suppliers – including Swedev for metal doctor blades in Sweden, Flexo Concepts for plastic blades in the US, Recyl for anilox cleaning products in France, RK Print for ink proofing equipment and Cheshire for anilox rollers in the UK, Mozart for slitting blades in Germany, Mario Cotta for rotary knives in Italy and Scapa for mounting tape in Switzerland, – Barkev is developing a truly global footprint. It already has several clients beyond South Africa’s borders, including Mozambique, Swaziland, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Malawi, Botswana, Nigeria and Kenya. Marc stated, ‘We plan to extend and securely cement our mark further into the continent.’ Resolutely in place, too, is the company’s goal to attain ISO accreditation and to become the biggest playing in this sector of the market. ‘We need to grow,’ quipped Brett jokingly. ‘My brother and I each have two sons who will need to be inducted into the company in the future, so the sky’s the limit.’ In box: Barkev – Etirama – Scapa – Swedev – Flexo Concepts – Recyl – Mozart – RK Print – KZN CPT JHB