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Ahead of the Curve

Service Offset Supplies

Service Offset Supplies considers itself a true one-stop-shop for all print needs. Genevieve Lewis talks to sales director Mike Milfull on why SOS manages to have it all

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(Below) Mike Milfull, sales director for Service Offset Supplies

Sending out an SOS

Service Offset Supplies has been going for over 40 years, supporting many in the industry with numerous products from CTP plates to coatings and even wash cloths. It really can be considered a one-stop-shop for all your printing needs.

Not only has its product portfolio grown, but also the business itself with the recent acquisition of Apex Digital Graphics in 2018. Sales director Mike Milfull comments: “When we acquired Apex Digital Graphics in 2018, we were very keen to retain several product specialists who shared our customer focus.”

When we acquired Apex Digital Graphics in 2018, we were very keen to retain several product specialists who shared our customer focus

A key addition to SOS was the Cron computer-to-plate (CTP) systems, which was added to the SOS existing line-up from its acquisition of Apex. The Cron systems are made in China, and SOS are keen to dispel the myth that Chinese-made is always bad quality. There are over 6,000 installations of the Cron CTP systems across the world.

Cron computer-to -plate system – the 46H model 

“Cron CTP has undergone a huge transformation in recent years, which is reflected in sales outstripping more established rivals in many global territories,” says Milfull, adding: “There’s a long list of USPs for Cron, they now have many new and patented features, with variants to suit all users, and there’s both a low investment cost and low lifetime cost.”

The Cron systems are also compatible with all major plates, and SOS are the largest independent dealer for Fuji CTP plates in the UK, as well as supplying Kodak and Mitsubishi plates.

Milfull continues: “To our knowledge, we are the only company in the UK to provide an unbroken chain of services and products for prepress, workflow solutions and colour accurate proofs all the way to FOGRA certifications on press.”

SOS can provide this chain because its Cron systems are compatible with all workflows, including the RealPro software suite from SOS. This workflow is capable of driving CTP devices as well as digital presses and sends CIP data to any press for auto ink duct adjustment. Managing both trapping and preflight, RealPro can also help to ensure a match between digital proof, plates and press – a process that SOS is able to fine-tune.

Fine colour

SOS has also been FOGRA-certified continuously for more than ten years.

Omran Anwar is the principal colour specialist for SOS and explains: “It can be a challenge to get print from a press to match how a proofer is printing. Often it’s even hard to know which one is printing correctly. Then there’s the issue of uncoated and coated paper, dot gain, print sequences – it can be very daunting, even for experienced printers. We specialise in fixing exactly this problem.”

Omran Anwar, principal colour specialist for SOS

SOS also provides the wide-format print community with a range of brands and machines, including the Epson Surecolor series. SOS has been a supplier of Epson equipment for over 16 years. On top of that, the Loughton business is also a dealer for Roland DG and Fuji. In the digital arena, SOS supplies Fuji and Konica Minolta, which rounds up its hardware offering.

“We see the wide-format market as an important growth area,” says Milfull. “It’s a big market offering countless opportunities for our customers. The hardware you need to enter this growing market is relatively inexpensive and can literally pay for itself in weeks.”

We see the wide-format market as an important growth area. It’s a big market offering countless opportunities for our customers

So, once the purchase of the hardware has gone through, in true one-stop-shop style, SOS can then help with all of the necessary wide-format media, which can then be used to create anything from posters, indoor and outdoor banners through to vinyls and exhibition graphics.

“As well as experience and knowledge, we are very focused on customer service,” says Milfull. “I know everyone says that, but in our case, we really mean it. We have some loyal customers and our reputation means everything.”

Milfull concludes: “We also believe in honesty. It’s a competitive market and some suppliers are tempted to bend the facts to make a sale. For us, our reputation and the long term is more important than a quick buck, and our customers appreciate that. We’re just as happy to give good advice.”

So, it seems that Service Offset Supplies can indeed be considered a one-stop-shop for print-service-providers within the industry, thanks to its relationships with major manufacturers and developing companies.

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