Cuttack deserves recognition for being a home to good old signage players

With its tapestry of art, handloom, handicraft and religious monuments, no wonder to call Cuttack city in Odisha a treasure trove of a rich history and heritage. Addition to the ancestry richness of this eastern Indian city is its modernity in the signage market which is worth to put into a spotlight for being a home to some of the old and most potential players in the region. Jyaneswar Laishram talks to a few of them to find out their backgrounds rooted to generations and outstanding works that make them recognised.

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Plastic House
A house of premium solutions

Plastic House is well recognised across eastern India and beyond for its prominent presence in the market and unmatched service and products they offer. The company has been in the limelight since its inception in the year 1985. Recalling the yesteryears, Gaurav Jain, Director, Plastic India, says that his father, late Shri Rajesh Kumar Jain, started the company as a trader of plastic and acrylic sheets, so was the name came from.

“From time to time, we keep upgrading our product portfolio and service. As on today, apart from our old product line of acrylic sheets, we are authorised regional distributor of AT Inks, Pioneer printing media and others. In addition, we are also a PSP working for a handful of corporate clients,” mentions Gaurav. It was in the year 1991 Plastic House opened its printing setup with the installation of Odisha’s first flex printing machine along with a cutting plotter. The same production setup today is equipped with two HP Latex 500 Series printers along with a Mehta laser engraving machine, lamination machine and other line of solvent printing systems.

“We are capable to produce near about one lakh square feet of graphic prints a day,” mentions Gaurav, adding that they however believe in maintaining quality than quantity. The clientele of Plastic House consists of big corporate players such as Samsung, Peter England, OYO, Timex, among others. The company also partners with Mudra ad agency. The company’s works can be segregated into three verticals of applications—OOH (hoarding, wall wraps, retro-reflective boards, etc); Promotional materials (canopy, standee, i-gate, etc); In-shop products (one-way vision, clip-on LED board, etc).


Prince
True mastery of outdoor ads

As the name suggests, Prince is a brainchild of a young, energetic and dynamic team of advertising professionals led by Guru Prasad Nayak. “We were incepted under the dynamic vision and guidance of our director and path maker late Shri Biswakalyan Nayak who helped us to grow to what we are today — a leading advertising agency in Odisha,” says Guru Prasad, adding that their mentor left foot marks at every smaller and bigger cities and towns across Odisha where entrepreneurs have an eye to invest.

Established in the year 1996, Prince over the last 26 years has captured bigger portion of the region’s advertising market with the possession of 600 outdoor hoarding sites. The company’s service area includes outdoor hoardings, promotion vans, event management and other innovative branding jobs as per demands of clients. Prince opened its own print production facility in the year 2008 with the installation of a MyJet printer with XAAR printhead. The facility keeps upgrading with latest technologies and machines. Latest update in it had been the addition of two ColorJet printers—NEPTUNE and IRISJET.

Guru Prasad mentions that the facility will be upgraded soon with an HP Latex printer. Behind the company’s well-equipped facility is its team of 45 highly-trained professionals, which include mounters and fabricators who go miles to execute any given project. Geographically, most of the projects of Prince are in three major cities of Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Sambalpur. If needed, the company goes to remote and distant areas bordering Odisha. Timely delivery of product and service has been the prime motto of Prince for which they are known and acknowledged.


Jain Graphics
Laser engraving expert

Jain Graphics is considered to be one of the oldest signage firms in Odisha. Its linage is dated back to more than three decades. Saurav Jain, Director of Jain Graphics, mentions that his father and late uncle Shri Rajesh Kumar Jain started the company in Bhubaneswar around 35 years back. “We shifted to Cuttack and Plastic House is an independent offshoot,” mentions Saurav. Main focus of Jain Graphics is on engraving and applications based on laser-engraved materials.

The production facility of Jain Graphics is equipped with a line of laser engraving machines, which includes an Elita 43 from Mehta Cad Cam. The company’s team of seven sign making professionals engages in all kinds of jobs including fabrication and sign installation. Some of the corporate clients for whom Jain Graphics has accomplished a number of landmark projects in various parts of Odisha include Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and others.

“We have taken part in in-shop branding projects for a number of Vivo and Oppo outlets in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar,” mentions Saurabh. In addition to engaging in execution of signage projects, Jain Graphics deals in supply of acrylic sheets, poly carbonate sheets, PVC roofing sheets, ACP sheets, vinyl stickers, fibre sheets, sunboards, raetro radium, etc. Saurav mentions that some important projects of their corporate customers have been put on hold due to the unsteadiness in the market caused by the pandemic.


Swarna Graphics
From films to printing

One of the interesting stories to be told here is the establishment of Swarna Graphics, a popular signage printing firm in Cuttack, opened by Santosh Padhi, a regional film producer. Santosh has been producing regional Odia films under the banner Khumbani Films—Badmash Toka is one of the box-office hits from the producer. In addition to film production, Santosh decided to venture into the printing market. He was impressed by the poster/hording printing. That’s the reason why he opened Swarna Graphics four years ago.

“Over the last 15 years of my film production I have been quite impressed by many things about the industry, which include good movie posters. My obsession over posters was the main reason that instilled me to open a large-format printing film,” narrates Santosh, adding that he is now totally smitten by the beauty of graphic arts industry. Swarna Graphics engages in production of movie posters for many other Odia movie production companies. The production setup of Swarna Graphics is equipped with a ColorJet NEPTUNE printer with a line of finishing equipments. The production set-up is backed by a staff of 14 sign-making professionals. “Apart from the in-house staff we hire workforce when required for execution of big projects in other parts of Odisha,” mentions Santosh. Some of the clients for which Swarna Graphics has done various landmark projects in Cuttack and other neighbouring cities and towns include Indian Oil, Signature, Plasto, among others.


Josee Advertisers
Continuity of a lineage

Located in a tucked away by-lane in Siba Bazar on Haripur Road, Josee Advertises is known as an old citadel in the signage market of Cuttack. Sharing the story of how this old sign maker came into being, Pritesh Nanda narrates his father’s journey into the market. “My father was an artist who painted portraits, landscape pictures, cinema posters, front-shop banners 35 years ago in Balangir town, around 300 km from here,” he shares, adding that his father shifted to Cuttack in 1987.

Over the years, Josee Advertisers had been working to the fullest satisfaction of its customers, providing posters and display items, some are hand-painted, some made of cut acrylic sheets and other materials. The company’s business went on in the usual way following the old methods and materials of sign making, but it took a major turn in 2010 when they adopted a digital large-format printer—a MIMAKI JV 150—and opened a new digital large-format production setup.

In the following years, the production got upgrading with the addition of a line of solvent printers and other equipments. “These days, my father looks after the core part of the business. Overall production is handled by me and my team,” says Pritesh. The production team of Josee Advertisers consists of 10 sign makers. The company has been working with some good old clients like V-Guard, Hitachi and others.


Ramayan – The Advertisers
Upgrading from time to time

Like many other signage firms in the city of Cuttack, Ramayan—The Advertisers was incepted in the year 1999 with the installation of a cutting plotter, engaging in making signage and display boards made of cut vinyl and poly-carbonate sheets. The overall activities of the company took a major shift in 2007 when its production setup was equipped with a digital large-format printer— a MyJet printer with XAAR printhead. Recently, the same printer model with KM 512i printhead has been installed in the setup. As on today, there are four MyJet printers in the setup.

Narayan Mohanty, founder of Ramayan – The Advertisers, says that the spice of life in the signage market of Cuttack is to upgrade with the time and tide of machines and technologies. He adds, “Cuttack is one of the main business hubs in eastern India. Many MNCs in durable and FMCG sectors do aggressive campaigns in the city. If we think of grabbing corporate projects, our production setup should have advanced machines.”

Handling major projects of corporate clients across the length and breadth of Odisha, Ramayan – The Advertisers has clientele comprising major corporate players like Jockey, Crompton, Supreme Industries and others. The company’s production team consists of 14 signage making staff. When asked about the next upgrade in the machine portfolio, Narayan mentions that a CNC router will be installed in the company’s production setup and LED-based signage will be their new venture to be started soon.


Rainbow Graphics
All-in-all solution provider

It has been just five years since Rainbow Graphics opened its branch in Cuttack. This signage corner is run by Kusan Bastia. But the overall idea of opening the branch was conceptualised and developed by his elder brother Vishal who is based in Bhubaneswar, engaging in the same business. “I’m a photographer by profession. After working with a number of signage firms and little inspiration from my brother, I finally landed in the signage market. I am quite happy and doing good in the business today,” says Kusan.

He continues, “We have been working with a number of major companies for their signage or outdoor promotional campaigns. However, our overall activities involve with other verticals, such as commercial printing. When it comes to commercial printing we produce varieties of wedding cards and others like business cards, brochures, etc.” The production facility of Rainbow Graphics is equipped with EPSON SureColor SC-P9000, MyJet with Seiko printhead and Konica Minolta bizhub 225 MFP,

In the short five years of its presence in the rapidly expanding Cuttack signage market, Rainbow Graphics has roped in a number of corporate customers, namely, Hero, Pragati Milk, Bath & Body Works, to mention a few. Kusan says that they are now planning to increase the manpower and its coverage area. The company’s current team of production staff consists of only eight professionals and it covers Cuttack and neighbouring areas fall under 5-8 km.


Sky Ads
For walk-in customers only

Sky Ads boasts of a well-equipped production facility and a strong team of production staff. But this PSP never works for big corporate clients. The reason, according to Saroj Sahoo who looks after the company’s production facility at Link Road Square in Cuttack city, is that they constantly receive enough volume of jobs from walk-in customers. He adds, “We normally work for local companies like departmental stores, coaching institutes and many organisations in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Puri.”

The current production facility of Sky Ads is equipped with ColorJet NEPTUNE along with a line of finishing equipments. When asked about the router cut signage they produce, Saroj mentions that it is now outsourced, but they are planning to install a CNC machine in their production facility soon so that they save time and cost of partnering with third parties. He adds, “The pandemic and lockdowns have hampered our plan to upgrade our production facility.”

He continues, “For more than three months last year (2020) we totally stopped our works. All payments from our customers were put on hold. It has been really a sad time for us. Only god knows what holds for the industry for future. Now the buzz is that the pandemic is still around. Full recovery will take time.” Sky Ads had a team of dozen sign making professionals, which is now reduced to half as another half left jobs when lockdown hit hard the signage market of Cuttack last year.


Patra Art & Craft
Innovation in wood works

Patra Art & Craft is an exclusive corner where wood crafts are produced in a unique and outstanding way. Applications ranging from 3D wall panel boards, SS, MS jali cutting up to door craving are the main forte of this router cutting expert in the city. In his word of wisdom and inspiration that instilled him to go into this field, Subhendu Sekhar Patra, Director, Patra Art & Craft said, “I believe in value of art. I have been influenced by holistic designs and symbols used by different people in different cultures and traditions across the world. It’s the beauty I am craving in my works.”

He mentions that the art used in the company logo is derived from a long-standing Mexican traditional art which is special, vibrant, colourful and plainly mesmerising and native populations in the country have kept it alive within their communities since time immemorial. He adds, “My idea is to create display art that may not only be realistic or stylized but also meaningful.” Subhendu has been into this for the past three years. His aim is to create router cutting centre where ancestry art can be reproduced in newer form using modern machines and technology.

The production facility of Patra Art & Craft is equipped with a Mehta LX 1325 automatic engraving and routing machine from Mehta Cad Cam. A team of experienced and well-trained professionals is the force behind the company’s creative control. Main customers in the clientele of the company consist of architects, interior designers, in-shop branding companies, craftsmen, temples and others. About the company’s next step update in the machine portfolio, Subhendu says a new laser engraver will be added soon in the facility.


Talent
Customer’s satisfaction guaranteed

With its sister concern Graphitech in Bhubaneswar, Talent in Cuttack keeps the two cities of Odisha under its radar, working for a host of clients including walk-in customers from different walks of life. Umesh Chandra Mallick, Director of Talent, says that they empathetically work for meeting the deadlines they have set to deliver products and service. “All it counts to make your customer believe in you is you commitment. We are committed to make sure our customers are fully satisfied with our work and products,” he adds.

Having been in the industry for more than 20 years, Umesh always dreamt of unveiling a signage company which works unlike the way any conventional flex printing shop operates. That’s why he opened Talent around 12 years ago. The company serves its clients with doorstep delivery of any printed item. In this, Umesh mentions that they keep three boys reserved for direct and instant delivery any printed graphic all over Odisha,

Some major telecom companies like Vivo and Oppo are in the client list of Talent. The company’s production setup in Cuttack is equipped with a ColorJet Neptune and an Allwyn. A team of 12 in-house staff and 12 on the hire basis is the workforce of Talent. Umesh conclusively says that the company is now covering the length and breadth of Odisha, but the future plan is to open some new branches in other eastern Indian cities and towns.