Taking up the reigns at Heidelberg South Africa

It is no secret that the printing industry has been through its fair share of turmoil in the past five years. Printers and suppliers have both found it a battle to navigate the difficulties and there have been casualties on both sides of the fence.


Five years ago a new managing director was appointed to head up Heidelberg Graphic Systems. Jimmy Joujou arrived from Lebanon and was thrown into the deep end coming to a market which was going through its own set of issues. Jimmy was tasked with restructuring the local organisation, both for local market conditions and also to bring it into line with the international organisation.


Jimmy commented, ‘The past five years have not been easy but we have used the time to consolidate our position in the market and to complete our restructuring. Throughout this time we have worked hard to create a strong and focused organisation structured to meet the needs of the Southern African market place. We have succeeded by continuously supplying our customers with state-of-the-art equipment.’


At the end of last year, after five years away from home, Jimmy and his family decided to move back to Lebanon. The decision was not made lightly because it also meant that Jimmy would have to leave Heidelberg, the company which had been his ‘home’ for most of his working career. He commented, ‘I have enjoyed the time I have had in South Africa and I will miss the warm and friendly people in this country, especially all the friends and business partners I have met while I have been here.’ Jimmy was tasked with finding a suitable replacement to head up Heidelberg Graphic Systems.


The decision to start looking for a replacement began in earnest at the beginning of this year and by midyear was the ideal candidate found in Ryan Miles who was looking for a new challenge after eight years heading up office printing systems supplier Itec. Jimmy said, ‘It is not easy to find someone who has the level of knowledge and expertise to take on a role such as this. Ryan has the right experiences in line with our business, in line with Heidelberg’s strategy and has overseen the evolution and growth of Itec.’


Commenting on his appointment, Ryan added, ‘Jimmy has done well to achieve all the set goals while he was here and now the company is going into the next phase of growth and profit. We have to further strengthen and improve our relationship with our clients. The market has not moved entirely out of the anxiety which has gripped it for the past few years and we have to work hard to constantly support our customers.


‘My aim for Heidelberg is to secure its position as the supplier of choice for our clients, we need to show them more than just the solutions we can offer, we need to add value, be engaged with them and, more importantly, we need to partner with them. Our growth is intrinsically linked to theirs and we want to work closely with them to achieve that growth.’


The transition period allowed Jimmy to introduce Ryan to many of the company’s major clients and to give him an understanding of the market and to see the direction and strategy put in place.


Ryan added, ‘We have to help our customers to thrive and grow in the market conditions which prevail at the moment. We have seen some positivity in the past two years and it has become apparent that there are some entrepreneurial clients out there who are prepared to invest in their future. They are the ones who are looking for operational efficiency and new types of work which can help them forge ahead. There are signs that the market is starting to level out and we are prepared to partner with clients to take the bold steps which are necessary to emerge from these conditions.


‘Personally, it is fantastic to represent a brand like Heidelberg and it is encouraging to see how it is still recognised as the brand of choice. We have a strong and experienced team with a good balance of expertise and youth to allow us to sustainably achieve our goals.’


Jimmy added, ‘The most important element for our clients is continuity and this is achieved through our experienced team at Heidelberg. The technology is market-leading and very often needs minimal intervention. Furthermore, our team of technical, sales and service staff are a clear and strong defining factor to our success. We can promptly assist clients with most of their enquiries and information on any product range. This differentiates us from many other agencies that regularly need to refer back to their suppliers. The older and more experienced members of our team have the answers at their fingertips, while the younger ones are eager and keen to learn. This is a good mix for our clients and sustainability.’


The depth of the product range comprising prepress and printing presses, new and remarketed equipment, consumables and service gives Heidelberg Graphic Systems a full portfolio to meet the needs of clients in South Africa and throughout Southern Africa. Jimmy stated, ‘I have been privileged to have worked in South Africa for the best company supplying the printing industry. I am sad to be leaving South Africa and Heidelberg, but it is the right time for me to move back to my homeland for the benefit of my family. I hope I have done a good job and I know that Ryan is the right person to take Heidelberg to new levels of success in this market.’


Ryan concluded, ‘I want to thank Jimmy for the outstanding job he has done here and for the smooth hand-over, it makes it so much easier when there is time for a comprehensive transition. Our customers and staff will benefit from the continuity, just as they have benefitted from the strong leadership and support they have received from Jimmy. As a team we are going to work closely with our customers to traverse the upcoming period of growth which I am sure is on its way.’