KOPA: Old-Timers in the Printing Business Grows with Insight and Professional Craftsmanship
Offset printing house KOPA, which has been operating in Kaunas for almost three decades, can safely be called the old-timer of this business. Coming through many stages of market and internal changes, they have not only flexibly adapted to economic reality, but have also been at the forefront of these changes offering new innovative services, becoming export-oriented, and most importantly, attracting loyal customers who are the greatest strength of their company.
The history of the company dates back to 1991 when Lithuania regained its independence. At first, the company was a small advertising agency located in the attic of a building in Kaunas. In that attic, three employees sharing one desk and two chairs worked hard and their work became the foundation of the future printing house.
According to the head of the company Saulius Mudėnas, the printing house has been developing due to the various events, and the active competitive environment always motivates and to this day encourages to be flexible and adapt to changes.
“Although there is fierce competition in our business, each manufacturer has its own strengths that are valued by its customers. Over the past 28 years, KOPA has developed a reliable customer base which is our greatest asset,” says the director of the printing house.
They respond to market changes by changing themselves
A major turning point for the printing house was the year of crisis in 2008 which forced the company to rethink its strategy: this is how the export to other markets started. Currently, the company exports 90% of its production.
Hhoto: Head of the company KOPA vadovas Saulius Mudėnas. Photo from archive.
Another major turning point in the history of the printing house took place three years ago: in 2016, along with technological innovations, the first offset e-printing house in Lithuania was installed – Klik.lt. This service has enabled any user to print with technologies previously available only to professionals.
Currently, the company’s main services consist of high-quality art magazines, books and corporate promotional and representation publications (catalogs and brochures). Most of them are exported to Germany, Denmark, France, other EU countries and the USA.
However, Saulius Mudėnas, the head of the printing house, identifies 2018 as the most important period of change: after the largest investment in the company’s history, the printing house KOPA has moved to new premises in Kaunas Free Economic Zone (FEZ). This not only allowed the technology park to be upgraded but also optimized production processes according to modern standards and market needs.
“The place undoubtedly influences the success of the business not only in terms of customers and logistics but also the employees. We moved to Kaunas FEZ due to new production capacities: we could no longer expand in the old premises. Meanwhile, we were welcomed at the FEZ, and the convenient logistics also bring benefits: we are near the highway, and Kaunas airport,” the director lists the benefits.
Curious and proactive employees
Printing House KOPA employs people of all ages and backgrounds; more than two-thirds of the nearly 140 employees work in the production department and directly contribute to the production of publications. Most of them are experienced and competent printing professionals, equipment operators or post-printing assistants. Representatives of the company noted that although there are not many representatives of the printing industry in the Kaunas labor market, the company itself provides the necessary knowledge and skills to the new employees during their work in the printing house.
It is possible to attract employees not only from other Lithuanian regions – the districts of Jonava, Kėdainiai, Kaišiadorys, Raseiniai – but also people who have returned from emigration and choose printing house KOPA as a stable and reliable employer.
“We have specialists from different fields: print engineers, business and management specialists, exact and natural science experts, marketing, design or technology professionals. The supply of rewarding jobs in Kaunas is very high, so we feel competition when attracting specialists, but we are glad that we are chosen by curious and proactive employees who want to improve their skills and grow,” says S. Mudėnas.
One of the KOPA’s values is a constant improvement. Following the principle of sharing knowledge with others and in this way achieving self-improvement, every year the company tries to create at least several different internship opportunities for students from Lithuanian and foreign higher education institutions. By the way, internships at the printing house are not just a formality: when recruiting students, company employees invest their time and knowledge, share good practices and engage students in real work situations. The company often receives feedback from students saying that the internship has improved their studies a lot. Some trainees stay and successfully pursue a career in the company.
Professional craftsmanship helps to survive and grow
Will the printing business be able to discover new niches and remain viable when media becomes increasingly digitized? S. Mudėnas has no doubts.
“We are living in a digital age where not only new opportunities but also boundaries have emerged. In recent years, there has been a lot of discussions about the shrinking printing industry, but obviously, this has not happened. Of course, businesses have become much smarter and more efficient in the distribution of printed advertising, but this has made life easier for everyone, relieving mailboxes of unnecessary junk mail, replaced by purposefully segmented advertising or lifestyle magazines,” notes the director. “I will add that digital media doesn’t have the sense of materiality which is very important for representation publications. So really, in order to compete successfully and stay relevant in this segment, you must have a high level of professional craftsmanship which we have developed, and we see good prospects.”