Currently, there are more than enough challenges for the current printing industry, particularly when you are involved in the struggling supplements and magazine printing industry. However, for German print shop Rose Druck of Landau, this is no reason to bury their head in the sand. Quite the opposite!
In the canteen of the gravure printing company Rose Druck in Landau, there’s something like a gallery of ancestors. Black and white pictures of the company’s founder, former owners, and staff, each of whom have shaped the company in their own way for 180 years.
Such a long tradition is a heavy burden. So much history brings a lot of responsibility, especially when you, as a young managing director, has to face all your ancestors. On the other hand, the many ups and downs in the company’s history show that things always somehow continue if you stay tuned to the pulse of times and don’t bury your head in the sand when facing challenges. Nonetheless, the decision to continue the company was neither an easy one and nor taken for granted for Linn Rose, the great-great-great-granddaughter of company founder Wilhelm Wenzel Klambt.
When Rose-Druck’s managing director Bernd Rose brought his children to the table to discuss the continuation of the family business, daughter Linn Rose initially took some time to think it over and also called on external assistance of a professional consultant, to clarify how such a far-reaching decision can even be made. As a studied communication designer, she seemed to be the logical successor, as her two siblings lived and worked too far away from the print shop’s location in Landau. In addition, she grew up with the company and therefor felt strongly connected to the business and also appealed of the challenge. However, taking over a gravure printing company with about 150 employees is a step that needs to be well considered, particularly in such challenging times.
On the advice of coach Daniela Jäkel-Wurzer, Linn Rose, who actually comes from the agency business, started her own project in the family business with a clearly defined task. It was the proverbial toe in the cold water and in just about three quarters of a year it became obvious, that Linn Rose was not afraid and able to swim in such turbulent waters.
Game-changer in gravure printing
Since the beginning of 2022, the 38-year-old Linn Rose has been successfully run the family owned company together with her father Bernd Rose. Representing the 6th generation, she now leads the company into the future. And there’s a lot to do. The project she started with is just one of many currently underway at Rose Druck, making the company an interesting partner for customers and suppliers. “Water-based inks” is the name of the project and could be a real game-changer in illustration gravure printing. “From my point of view, gravure printing has three main issues today”, she explains. “First, the use of toluene for the inks, second, the copper-chrome coating of the cylinders, and third, the availability of respective paper qualities for gravure printing.”
Both toluene and chromium VI have long been suspected of being harmful to health, apart from the fact that the easily flammable toluene poses a fire hazard. The use of water-based, solvent-free inks could be a solution for the first problem. In decorative gravure printing and also in package gravure printing, water-based inks have been successfully used for a long time. Therefore, why shouldn’t it work also in illustration gravure printing?
This also goes hand in hand with a possible solution for problem number two: As an alternative to the copper-chrome-coated cylinder, the Italian company Rossini Spa has developed a polyurethane-based cylinder coating process that also works with already existing cylinders. So far, the process called EcoGrav is only intended for package gravure printing. But currently, Rose Druck and Rossini are testing the use in illustration gravure printing with water-based inks at the Stuttgart Media University (HdM). The results are promising. Sure, such developments take time, research, and testing, but they are projects with prospects for success that will benefit gravure printing in the long term.
Rose Druck is also proactively addressing problem number three, the availability of papers. It’s about being as flexible as possible in terms of printable materials and always remaining production-ready. “For us, this means: testing and experimenting”, explains Linn Rose. “Again and again, we use gaps in production to test new paper qualities. Even those that can’t usually be printed in gravure”. Thus, the tests with EcoGrav are not only carried out with water-based inks but also with offset qualities.
Rose Druck also sees format variability as a major advantage when it comes to paper. The print shop, which has a total of three gravure printing presses with web widths of 2670 and 2450 millimetres has more than 40 different cylinder circumferences and around 1000 cylinders in stock. “We can vary the spacing by two to three millimetres and thus make optimum use of the paper roll format,” explains Linn Rose. Flexibility and ingenuity are also the decisive factors here.
Being faster and more flexible
And so Bernd and Linn Rose continue to tinker. In addition to topics such as ecology and efficiency, for example it is also about providing customers with decisive time advantages. “Our products compete with the fast online media”, says Bernd Rose. Gravure printing will certainly never be able to catch up, but with the help of one or two tricks, the time it takes for a catalogue, magazine or brochure to reach the customer can be significantly reduced.
One of these “tricks” is the so-called R-Cover, an in-house development for which Rose Druck holds the patent. This is a way of producing the cover and inner part of a product in a single pass in the machine. This does not rely to the look and feel of a self-cover, but as a firmer version with a higher grammage. How does this work? It’s actually quite simple: two or even three pages are fully joined together inline in the machine. This avoids the separate production of content, cover and the associated downstream saddle stitching: “One data set and one type of paper in one width are sufficient”, explains Bernd Rose. This saves time and money and also simplifies the process considerably in view of scarce paper resources, as the same paper quality is used for the content and cover. If three sides are glued together for the back cover, the thickness is even sufficient to integrate a detachable postcard whose grammage is accepted by the post office. A completely new feature is that this reinforced side can also appear on the inside as a “stopper side”.
If the envelope is already produced in-house and inline without any detours, then the idea of extending the workbench even further is an obvious one. “As a consistent further development of our products, we would like to offer our customers inline personalisation in the future”, explains Linn Rose. “This will enable us to realise advertising media with an extremely short production time between print data delivery and postal delivery”. This is why tests and trials are also being carried out in this area together with the experts from machine construction and software. “Our vision is to produce a personalised, ready-to-post catalogue in just a few hours using a data set, a white paper roll and an address data set”, adds Bernd Rose. Especially in retail, where time is an absolutely critical factor, this is a most suitable approach. This means that a fast print medium can also be perfectly combined with digital media.
“We endeavour to give the print product a little more momentum and to drive innovation, to listen to the wishes and ideas of our customers and to implement them”, summarises Bernd Rose.
The right thing to do
The customers of Rose Druck responded very positive to such innovations, which is also reflected by the fact, that, for example, 2022 was the best year in the company’s history.
Therefore, Linn Rose is not worried about her decision to continue the family business. She is taking over a well-positioned company, which installed their third gravure press two years ago, giving them even more entrepreneurial scope of action. “We are continuing to invest in areas that are hugely important for the future of the company. For example, we are currently organise a completely new IT infrastructure and introducing a new ERP system. It never gets boring for us but it’s fun and keeps us on our toes”.
Rose Druck – 180 years of tradition
The German gravure print shop Rose Druck looks back on a long and eventful history that began in 1843 with Wilhelm Wenzel Klambt founding the company. He also founded his magazine “The friend of the family – A weekly for all classes” in the small Silesian town of Neurode and laid the foundations for Klambt Verlag. The name “Rose” became part of the company name with Klambt’s son-in-law Georg Rose. In 1882, Klambt sold his publishing house to him.
Georg Rose expanded the company considerably with several locations throughout Germany. After the Second World War, however, only the Speyer site remained, from where Klambt’s great-grandson Dr Günther Rose rebuilt the publishing house. In 1955, the printing division was spun off as a separate company. From the 1970s onwards, Managing Director Wolfgang Rose developed it into one of the most modern print shops in Germany.
The Landau site was added as a gravure printing plant in 1992. In 1996, Klambt Druck GmbH was taken over by Schlott Gruppe AG and renamed WWK Druck GmbH in 1998 in memory of company founder Wilhelm Wenzel Klambt.
With Bernd Rose, Chairman of the Management Board of the Europe-wide printing group, one of Klambt’s great-great-grandsons became Managing Director again. WWK remained in the family, even after the insolvency of the Schlott Group in 2011. The plant in Landau is now being continued as Rose Druck, the fifth generation and now the sixth with Bernd Rose’s daughter Linn Rose.