One-on-One interview with MD/CEO of  DCS Integrated Media Limited, Pastor Tunde Obokhai as he takes us through the memory lane of how the Nigerian printing industry Flagship B2B printing journal was birth in 2001.   – By Rebecca Enayon

…An Excerpt from the interview

Q: Congratulations in advance on the publication of the 100th edition of Printers Digest Magazine, could you please tell us what prompted you to come up with the publication of printers digest magazine? and the state of the Nigerian printing industry when you started this publication?

A: Thank you for the opportunity, to begin with, I will sincerely like to use this opportunity to set some records straight about my involvement in the print business and the Nigeria printing industry because there is an impression in some quarters that I ventured into printing for business and not as a professional. The truth is an uncle of mine who was an Electronics engineer with RT Briscoe system got me interested in the servicing of compugrapic machines- an offset lithography machine to produce phototypesetting work. He was an Electronic engineer who transited from Telecommunication to Printing. I was trying to follow his footprints by transiting from Telecommunications to printing because at that time  I was a trained Microwave transmission technologist working with NITEL. So I began following him to print shops to service compugraphic machines. This journey led me to go into partnership with a friend of mine who is based in America for the sale of print machineries in Nigeria in 1993.

We were the authorised reseller of a Japanese-made printing machine called Ryobi printing machines in Nigeria. So my venture into the print business started about 3 decades ago and it was not a flight-by-night or walk-in-a-park thing it was something I was prepared to do for a long time if you truly understand the business of the sales of printing machines and what it entails. To make good of what I was plunging into, I  got myself grounded and acquainted with the art and science of printing through various courses in printing technology and business in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Now coming to your question on how I  came up with the idea of Publishing Printers Digest,  the truth is that the whole idea to publish a B2B journal began as I  engaged in the process of introducing Ryobi offset press into the Nigeria market. I realized that a lot of potential buyers or users of machines do not have the relevant information to influence an appropriate buying decision so when you go to a client in the process of selling a machine you realize that they are not quite knowledgeable about the machines they are using or machines that they need.

This led to the idea of coming up with a  publication to educate printers about printing processes, technology and solutions. So, I scanned around the industry if such a journal existed in the industry and  I  found one called “Printing  News”, I then went ahead to invite the publisher of that magazine over to my office for a chat. I was to advertise my products in his magazine but I realized that the quality of the magazine itself does not really represent printing from my own perspective.  He told me about his struggle to get printers to buy the magazine and I told myself why don’t I start mine as a way of using it to create more awareness and educate printers so that when I go out to sell machines they will have some basic knowledge that will help to influence their buying decisions.

So, in 1999 after setting up DCS Integrated Ltd, I  began to think in my
mind, what area can I venture into without any form of conflict with my former partners who were into the sales of printing machines. I came up with Printers Digest magazine. I felt a digest itself will be more educating,  something printers can pick up and get adequate information and knowledge about their business, processes, and solutions. The truth is most print operatives and print shop owners are not professional printers and so do not have a lot of knowledge of printing technology.  At that time if you ask an average printer what a cutting machine is, he may not understand you except you mention a very popular brand that he knows that is used for cutting paper like polar Mohr.

So, I began to put thoughts together about this publication,  a magazine that will reflect printing, so I thought of an all-colour printing journal. In April 2001,  we launched Printers Digest,   a full-colour magazine in Nigeria. At that time there were quite a few magazines doing full colour in Nigeria. We had a lot of challenges at the beginning from people asking if we will be successful in publishing and sustaining an all-colour printing magazine to lack of having access to the right machines and personnel to produce an all-colour publication.  Years down the line we can say yes it’s good we took the lead, so that brought about the birth of printers digest magazine. It wasn’t quite easy because of the many challenges we faced during the production process, particularly when it came to getting the quality we wanted at that time. For example, getting the right colour separation and having a quality print production was tough. It wasn’t easy to get the right machine to give us the quality that we had in mind but we made do with what we had and we continued until we began to see changes in the industry through the publication itself.

Q: Have your dream been realized? In terms of Publishing Printers Digest?

A: To a large extent we can say that we have tried our best to inculcate that knowledge through the magazine and it has led to several other things because with our flagship product – Printers Digest magazine,  we introduced conferences, training, and workshops into the printing industry to further educate stakeholders in the industry and we stepped it up by organizing the first print exhibition in Nigeria – Nigeria International Print Expo (NIPEX) where printers could now have access to live demonstrations of print solutions and have a better understanding of the technicalities around the machines required for their businesses. So, to a large extent, we would say YES but I  think there is a lot to be done in this sector. We have an industry that is not quite developed and that is the truth, I think that with the Chartered Institute of  Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON)  being the regulatory body and major umbrella for printers,   they should encourage education, capacity building, and business development in the industry. Stakeholders should have access to knowledge that will equip them with the capacity of doing business in a more professional way.

Q: What is next for Printers Digest?

A: Educating professional printers in the act of printing business. I want to see Printers Digest magazine do that. I want to see printers digest drive 21st-century printing businesses through education and information, I want to see Printers Digest do more of that. You know the business environment is dynamic and we are experiencing changes in the way business is done, these changes are faster than ever before, and the demand from customers is also becoming more sophisticated. So Printers need to be prepared for these changes. So you need a platform that constantly keeps printers abreast with these changes,  that is where I am trusting  God to take printers digest to. To be in the forefront of constantly engaging printers to imbibe modern print solutions to build their print business. that’s what I want to see us achieve with Printers Digest going forward. I will also like to see a better response from the printers themselves. Printers should give a priority place to information and education in the quest to build the necessary capacity to sustain and grow their business.  They should constantly, reach out and get a  copy of any print journal whether online or hard copy version of any of the print publications available in the industry. A print journal that focuses more on articles to build their capacity and not journals that are more like a catalog. I mean a journal that you can digest well-researched and up-to-date editorial,  a journal that is a reference material you can refer to for relevant information from print press to post-press.  whenever you want to have access to current information without going online. Even if you want to go online go-to the printers digest portal online and get information also investors who want to come into the Nigeria printing industry should be able to go to the printers digest portal and get relevant and insightful information about the Nigerian printing industry so that’s what we want to see in the future. Printers digest becoming more of a reservoir of information for the industry and in turn the channel for the growth of print businesses in Nigeria through education and information.

Q: How do you feel about the 100th Edition Publication sir?

A: I am excited!  I mean it just tells you how far you have come. Everything in life is a journey and they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step so if today you talking of a 100th edition then you can really look back and say wow what started yesterday with the 1st edition, 2nd now we are reached the 100th edition, it means we are making progress even in the face of many challenges we have encountered in the industry.  The truth is if not for these challenges we would have gone farther than this, but we cannot complain but give glory to God . That is why we are celebrating this landmark edition in a grand style.  Above all to be alive to see the 100th edition is a significant thing and we are very excited to see what the Lord has done for us,  with us, and through us for print business in Nigeria. With this also I am also motivated to strive to accomplish more milestones of this nature in many years to come with the help of God.
Remarks: Thank you Sir for your time

 Responded:  The pleasure is mine