By Editor Morten B. Reitoft
Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania and was first mentioned more than 650 years ago. Kaunas is about an hour's drive west of the capital Vilnius - an old and lovely city with the river Nemunas dividing the town in two. Kaunas has historically always been an important business hub for Lithuania. After its separation from the Soviet Union, Lithuania, with its less than 3 million people, has been one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. Lithuania has only about 5% Russians, considerably less than the other Baltic countries, Latvia and Estonia. In foreign policy, the Lithuanian government swiftly closed the borders to Belarus and banned Russians from entering the country due to the war in Ukraine.
Well - this was a little background for the story that, in INKISH context, is way more important. Jan Majnik (INKISH filmer) and I (INKISH editor) recently had a nice short trip to Kaunas. We were commissioned to make a few films by a nice company called Printela. Printela is located in an industrial area, and when you arrive, you see the Printela logo on the building - the fonts used reminds me of Porsche, and yes, Valdas, the owner drives a Porsche, so maybe not a co-incident? :-)
Photo by Tadas Petrokas on Unsplash
The company specializes in the production of labels and packaging - mainly pouches. Twenty-five years have passed since Valdas Buksnys made a dramatic career change from being a double-bass player in an orchestra touring Europe to establishing a printing company. Zero printing background but a true sense of what works and doesn't. The company has always focused on being a digital company and started with thermo transfer and blank labels. The company was successfully selling labels and soon started sourcing other types of labels from local colleagues. As Valdas Buksnys explains in the interview I did with him, the time was very different. In the Soviet time, products weren't labeled. If you entered a store to buy bread, it would say 'bread' on the shelf, and then the shelf would have all types of bread not specified. Printela changed this, and when the company invested in its first digital equipment after visiting a LabelExpo show in Brussels, everybody in Lithuania thought that Valdas Buksnys was insane.
Not only was Valdas Buksnys a first-mover in digital-only production, but digital labels' prices were maybe 4-5 times higher than analog labels. But, here we are, twenty-five years later, and in a company that looks like a great success. Sixty people are employed, and shipping labels and pouches to Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, the UK, Benelux, and even Australia are on the map placed in the meeting room.
Printela is an important HP-site with Indigo 25K, Indigo 20000 and two Indigo 6900
Entering Printela production is genuinely remarkable. Valdas Buksnys is very friendly and open-minded, but he has also established a super atmosphere among his staff. The production is divided into three sections - one with an HP Indigo 20000 and an HP Indigo 25K, and a lamination solution. This is the more quiet room. As we enter the finishing part of the production, loud music is being played, and here we find two HP Indigo 6900 used for Printela's label production. Behind the HPs, we see three GM finishing machines- a Cartes laser cutter with integrated varnish and digital foil solution - and three Karlville production lines producing pouches.
The last part of the production is the warehouse, and it's filled up with substrates. Valdas Buksnys explains how difficult it is to get substrates and how ordering/delivery time has changed from 10-12 days to more than 2-3 months. Valdas Buksnys also explains that being a digital label- and packaging company makes customers expect faster turn-around time, so a filled-up stock of substrates is necessary!
Printela operates three Karlville Pouch lines
When seeing the operation, you realize, as usual, that the many processes, the product, the quality, and everything depend on a steady order flow. About half of the staff works in sales- and administration, and though the lower labor cost was one of the reasons for western customers to buy from Printela in the beginning, I am pretty sure that today customers buy from Printela because of the high-quality, the fast turn-around time. I believe that friendly people add up to why people work with people. Great company and you should look forward to seeing the film we have done from there!
And three GM label finishing solutions
-- important note --
I promised Valdas Buksnys to add the following very important statement: He and the entire company are the biggest fans of basketball as Lithuania is now in the European Championship :-)