Despite the economic slowdown from the Covid pandemic over the past few years, the production printing market in Namibia has continued to grow significantly. That’s the view of Jannie Steyn, Sales and Business Development Specialist for Altron Technologies Namibia, who heads up the company’s Xerox business in the country.
Altron Technologies Namibia is a subsidiary of South African-based Altron and has distributed Xerox production and office printers in the country for more than 25 years. Its customers include traditional printing service providers, along with small-to-medium businesses, schools, and universities.
‘Most of our clients started off with printers from other brands, only to switch to Xerox when reliability and print quality became a problem down the line,’ says Steyn.
‘Namibia is a relatively small market in the sub-Saharan Africa context, so there’s nowhere to hide when it comes to technology issues, especially with high-volume production printing,’ he says. ‘Customers are also increasingly looking for a one-stop solution from their technology providers, which in the printing world means everything from paper and toner to the machines themselves, and then aftersales service and support. No one does end-to-end like Xerox and Altron; we provide every link in the chain, and if we don’t stock it, we’ll source it.’
Altron Technologies has the distinction of supplying the first Xerox Versant 4100 production press in Africa, quite an achievement for a country of 2.5 million people on a continent of more than 1.2 billion. Its bread-and-butter, however, is in the smaller production printer market, like the Xerox Primelink C9070 and B9125 printer/copiers. Recent installations include a major printing overhaul at one of Namibia’s largest universities and a large print shop in Windhoek that needed to supplement its colour printing business with high-volume black-and-white.
‘The university we’re working with had the same reliability issues that we come across with many of our clients, where their production machines are down for maintenance in an environment where downtime is impossible,’ says Steyn. ‘Not only did we help them resolve these issues with the Xerox C9070 and its built-in bookbinder option, but we’re also now looking to overhaul their admin printing and equip their new medical department with printers.
‘The print shop faced another common scenario in that they needed to find a better and more cost-effective way of making black-and-white prints. Like everyone else they were using their colour printers for monochrome printing, but this is less efficient and more costly. The Xerox B9125 is an ideal complement to a Xerox Colour press and is far better suited to both large and small B+W production runs.’ Steyn says the “secret” to growing the Namibian production print market is not really a secret.
‘My role is to plan ahead for our customers, to figure out what they’re going to needs in six weeks and six months, and to slowly but surely introduce them to the solutions we have available,’ he says. ‘It’s not a hard sell, but rather something that takes patience and persistence, and continual follow-up, even with those customers not currently invested in Xerox.’
‘It’s fair to say that Covid and the lockdowns have radically changed our business cycles, if not the business itself,’ he adds. ‘Six years ago, customers were planning up to a year ahead, whereas today I’m meeting clients who aren’t quite sure what they’ll need week-on-week. It’s a challenge for sure, but one that we embrace as a company, and have the products and expertise in-country – and across the border – to properly service.’
Steyn has helped grow Xerox’s colour production market in Namibia by more than 90% in the last three years, economic slowdown notwithstanding. With businesses starting to return to a “new normal”, the forward trajectory is very much upward.
‘The reality is that we live and work in a vast country with a very small, widely dispersed population, so growing the market means constantly being on the move and having the reach to service outlying areas with the same skills and resources we have for metro customers. It’s a challenge we embrace and one that I believe sets Altron apart from other, smaller distributors that simply don’t have the feet on the ground to go that extra mile.’