|Sunday, 2 November 2003|
Taking printing to greater heights
Jayampathi Sumithrarachchi, Managing Director and Chief Executive of E.S. Sons Printers Pvt Ltd, took to printing as a duck takes to the water, following in his father's footsteps. He considers the late Colonel G.W. Rajapakshe, former Principal of Ananda College as his guiding light.
Sumithrarachchi was born to a family of four brothers and six sisters. His father, Don Edmund Sumithrarachchi, was engaged in the printing business as far back as 1932 in Anuradhapura while his mother was a housewife.
The company in Anuradhapura is still owned and run by two of Sumithrarachchi's brothers.
He had his education at Ananda College, Colombo where he excelled in sports such as cricket and tennis at Junior level. He was the Head Prefect of the school during 1975/76.
"As soon as I left school in 1976, I was offered a job as a Management Trainee in the Printing Department of Aitken Spence where I worked till 1981," he said. Within a short time, he was promoted as a junior executive of Aitken Spence.
"In 1981, I had to make a choice between going to the London College of Printing for further training or venturing out on my own. With the blessings and encouragement of everybody, I chose to venture out on my own".
Birth of a new company
This was the birth of E.S. Sons Printers. Sumithrarachchi started with one hand-operated machine, a letterpress Heidelberg machine and a staff of five people. Now it competes with giants in the industry and handles work for leading companies such as Hayleys.
The company has won many awards including the award for excellence for best printer carton in 1997 from the Sri Lanka Association of Printers (SLAP). It presently has about 60 employees.
"With the assistance of our new head of marketing Jagathlal Perera, we will ensure that the needs of present and future customers are met and that it will be a win-win situation for both the customer and the organisation.
"Also I want our organisation to be like Aitken Spence from where I started my career in printing," he added.
The Sri Lanka Association of Printers, which has 300 members, is 47 years old. Sumithrarachchi is its 15th President.
He said the Sri Lanka Institute of Printing (SLIP) and INGRIN Institute of Printing and Graphics Sri Lanka were initiated by SLAP to improve the standard of printing in Sri Lanka. He said: "Securing international business is a must to develop the industry, but to do this, we need trained people, which is a drawback we face at the moment.
"The Association is presently educating youth about the job opportunities in printing both locally and internationally. It is a good avenue of employment for the country's youth as it is a well paid and prestigious job.
"After 47 years, the SLAP has started to spread its wings to the suburbs from Colombo to educate unemployed youth on the benefits of taking to printing as an employment opportunity. The first meeting held in Galle was a success," he said.
Professional training is a must to develop the printing industry as it requires skills and techniques like any other job. INGRIN and SLAP presently train youth in various aspects of printing. "First join a printing company as a trainee and then join a school," Sumithrarachchi advised.
"We are on par with other countries in technology, but we have to improve on designs. The lack of manpower at middle level is a hindrance to developing the industry to greater heights."
"We are planning to get professional help to improve the design side and conduct some courses on designs and layouts."
South Asia Print Congress
The third South Asia Print Congress and Exhibition was held in Sri Lanka for the first time in August under the theme 'Print Miracle Global Gateway'.
Sumithrarachchi was recently invited to address the All India Federation of Master Printers Golden Jubilee celebrations as the keynote speaker. He considers this an honour for the association and the country.
"Do not mix family with business," was his advice.
"I never take my briefcase home and as a matter of policy, I do not transact any business at home even with family members. If they want to do some business, they have to come to the office as I do not mix my family with my office." (SG)
Name: Jayampathi Sumithrarachchi
Designation: MD and CEO E.S. Sons Printers (Pvt) Ltd
Positions held: Chairman South Asia Print Congress, President SLAP, Director SLIP and INGRIN Institute of Printing and Graphics Sri Lanka
School Attended: Ananda College
Children: Two sons
Produced by Lake House