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Pemara Labels
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Pemara is a privately owned business that offers complete label management solutions for the Consumer Goods, Security, Promotional, Pharmaceutical and Industrial industries acrossAustraliaandSouth East Asia. By combining world-class technology, innovative product development, and supply chain and inventory management expertise, Pemara delivers exceptional results for some of the world’s biggest brands.

With four printing plants and five sales offices in South East Asia andAustralia, Pemara is structured to meet the needs of customers both local and regional, and works with everybody from small-to-medium enterprises all the way to multi-national entities. As a provider of label solutions, they lead the way in the markets of Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Pharmaceuticals, Agro-chemicals, and – in a more recent move – Dairy and Cosmetics, by the way of digitally printed cartons and die cut printed lids.

Founded in 1966 by Peter McNamara, and now run by Peter’s son Andrew, Pemara began its life as a commercial printing business. Over the years, it evolved into packaging and labels. When General Manager Damien Prunty joined the business in 2001, he says they had found their niche in the “narrow web label printing market,” and grew to an ideal size.

“We’ve got the scale and ability to complete in the larger Australian and multinational markets, but also the flexibility that comes with being a smaller private-owned family business,” Damien explains. “A lot of our competitors are either large publicly listed multinational companies or they’re small print shops. We sit nicely in the middle – we’ve got a good mix of both.”

According to Damien, that scale of business is attractive to their customers both domestically and abroad. Pemara’s main site is inMelbourne, but they also do business inMalaysia,VietnamandIndonesia, and the reasons customers come to Pemara for their label solutions are common across the board.

One of those reasons is technology. “We’re heavily technology focused,” Damien says. “We have a very strong desire to implement and drive technology improvements through the business.”

Other reasons are service and value-based. “We have a strong values base in terms of the way we run our businesses,” explains Damien. “We’re a customer-based organisation.”

He adds that all of their business units have customer focused management teams and “We have a strong customer focus as a result of having that bent to our management structure.”

While Pemara is focused on customer service across the globe, the particulars of that service differ from site to site. Those differences help set the company apart in the international marketplace.

“We tend to build our businesses to suit the environments we operate in,” Damien says. “The Australian manufacturing environment is a very different one to the Vietnamese manufacturing environment, for example, so whilst we always embed critical technologies that help drive or improve productivity and service to our customers, we also have enough flexibility within the organisation to structure the business to deal with the idiosyncrasies of each of those cultures.”

Pemara has been doing business inAsiafor 20 years, so they have the experience necessary to navigate those idiosyncrasies successfully. “Diversity in culture across the organisation is a critical component of our ability to service our customers and our markets.”

Another aspect of Pemara that sets it apart is the way it embraces change. While the company’s relationship with customers has always been strong, it has not always operated in the same way. Ten years ago, Damien says their business model was “fairly conventional” – they had a bank of presses, some customers, and a sales person in the middle.

“As our business has changed, and more so as our customers businesses have changed, the requirements have become more complex,” Damien says. “We found the need to expand our customer service offering.”

Today, Pemara have what’s called “Customer Service Cells.” Those cells consist of a number of people including relationship business managers, customer service people who handle the transaction between the business and the customer, and also technical sales people who sit in the middle of that process – they are the people who help customers deal with the technical side of packaging, who liaise to customers regarding different aspects of their jobs such as artwork, trialling and raw materials.

“We’ve introduced a whole layer of expertise into our customer service cell that enables us to talk to our customers at a range of different levels,” Damien says.

Pemara has also enabled other people within the company to have direct contact with customers in areas that businesses like theirs traditionally do not. “For instance, we have quality people here that can talk to the quality people at our customers,” he says. “We also have HR people that will have resource conversations with our customers; and we have senior level contacts so our executives can have regular contact with senior people at our customers. Broadening the scope of contact with our customers has been really important.”

Supporting the process

At Pemara, they have a commitment to continually deliver world class solutions to customers through technology. To deliver on this commitment, they reinvest a significant portion of the company’s revenue each year into capital expenditure. According to Damien, that does not simply mean acquiring large press equipment – they also heavily invest in technology that supports the process.

In the last year, for instance, Pemara did not invest in a large printing press; they invested further to expand their vision system technology to automate inspection of their labels, rather than relying on the human eye to pick up faults. They also invested in HD Plate Technology that now delivers the industry’s highest standard of plate making to their Australian customers.

“A key criteria for us when we invest in technology is that it has to deliver us a competitive advantage, and that can be in the market or internally,” Damien says. This means they invest a lot of resources in production technologies that improve their speed-to-market, improve their efficiency, reduce their waste, or reduce their usage of raw materials.

Each of the company’s divisions – Sales, Operations, HR, Finance, et cetera – has an annual capital expenditure budget that goes through an evaluation process. That process ensures that whatever Pemara invests in delivers benefits to Pemara’s customers, the company’s bottom line, or to the environment.

 People power

Pemara employs approximately 90 people in Melbourne and another 260 across the rest of the group.  The company’s corporate culture, like every other aspect of their business, is ever-evolving. “We have a number of strategies in place to improve employee engagement,” Damien says. “We value our employees to the extent that retention and employee satisfaction is now a critical measure to the business.”

“In the past, our measure of success was having enough staff to be able to run the place effectively,” he adds. “Now we look at it slightly differently.”

To foster a good employee-company relationship, Pemara has put in place things like maternity-leave policies, and seeks to form bonds outside the business by hosting events like family movie days. “We try to take a number of different approaches to engage with our employees in different ways, and that changes all the time,” Damien says. “You need to be thinking about that constantly. One of our founding values is “People Power,” so we genuinely believe in that.”

People Power was one of Peter McNamara’s original values. It has endured to this day, and extends to their Asian plants as well. “Anyone can buy a printing press and run it,” Damien says. “The quality of the business is determined by the quality of the people in it.”

Moving forward, Pemara has devised a group strategy that will see the business grow as whole, but at the same time, each of their business units have their own strategies tailored to their own markets. Indonesia has a burgeoning economy, for example, so the opportunity for growth is plentiful. In Australia, however, the market is more mature – so the growth they are looking at involves diversifying their product range and entering new markets.

Despite these differences, part of the group’s overall strategy involves introducing closer involvement between the different sites. “We stand a lot to learn from what’s going on in other markets,” Damien says. “Some of those markets are indicators for what’s going to happen in the market we deal in day to day.”

In the long term, Pemara sees Australia as being at the head of their growth. To lead that charge, the Australian division is currently in the middle of a research and development project that will diversify their project range, and evolve them into a number of different markets.

“Pemara has a history of diversification,” Damien says. “We haven’t always been label printers. The challenge is to continue to evolve in a proactive way, and capitalise on any and all opportunities that may present themselves.”