The story of a leading signage solutions provider of Melaka, Malaysia.
Melaka is a picturesque little town about 120 kms from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur with stark reminiscences of the Portugese, Dutch and British influence on architecture as well as style. Melaka is also the town which tells the inspiring story of Mr. Joy Chan who started his Joy Chan Advertising from here in the mid 70’s.
The signage business took off with the Coca-Cola company asking Mr. Joy Chan to develop their signages. It was a humble beginning from a small shop lot. From the days of drawing boards, marker pens and dry-transfer lettering, Mr. Joy Chan worked his way up to one of the leading players in the Malaysian signage industry now. Today, they deal in Digital design, Neon and LED and many such modern solutions with the active involvement and vision of his son Mr. Edison Chan. Edison – a bundle of energy with an effervescent personality and down to earth demeanour to say the least – joined his father in 1995.
“The sign industry those days was all manual and involved highly skilled personnel for the job unlike these days where we designers are helped by computers and various other gadgets,” remembers Edison. The first milestone for Joy Advertising could be traced to their acquisition of a Graphtec plotter for Vinyl cutting in 1992. “I think ours was one of the very first machines to come into the signage market of the region. The acquisition in fact revolutionized the process with amazing improvements in speed and accuracy,” says Edison. Next revolution, according to Edison, in this industry was the introduction of routers for cutting the acrylic and other various substrates. “I would place the vinyl cutter and router as the two big leaps that the sign industry has seen over the last few decades and we made it a point to invest in both and that was the key investment that enabled us drive our growth and success,” says Edison.
“The next important development in the sign industry (banners to be specific) is the introduction of Inkjet wide format printing which in-fact has changed the face of the industry. The technology made bigger, faster and vibrant colours possible which were earlier unimaginable. I remember the time when we used to take orders for only 3 to 5 hand drawn and painted banners for a day; which today has changed to almost 200 in a day irrespective of the size and/or the number of colours,” he continues.
“Today things are not as much for the speed, which in fact is taken for granted. Today, customer wants quality, looks for lasting colours, is impressed by brightness of colours, talks about pixels; these are the things that customer today demands,” reasons Edison. “As technology grows, so does the demands of the customer. Customers now talk about CMYK, LM (Light Magenta) and LC (Light Cyan) or for that matter, they talk about white colour, spot UV machine and UV printing,” he elaborates.
His customers today like the touch and feel effect in print, for example, special value additions like the raised UV. As the technology improves, so does the demand. The next revolution, he thinks would be the 3D printing which he says is already in the fast lane of development. “I see clearly 3D entering into our industry very soon. May be they already have for signage printing without all the needs of the router, vinyl cutter and so on and so forth,” foresees Edison.
Joy Advertising, christened as just “Joy” now, works with major brands directly in Malaysia. For Heineken Malaysia Bhd., they are doing their custom made internal pub signages. They also do a lot of work for Tiger & Guinness all over Malaysia.
“Fraser & Neave Limited (F&N) have been an excellent customer for over 40 years for Joy. We have associated with them for their product ‘100 plus’ for their coffee shop signages which are all done on our large format UV printer,” reveals Edison.
Joy prides itself as a one stop shop for their customers – starting from receiving (or developing) the designs, to printing, producing and to the installation site which could be anywhere across Malaysia. “We attribute our success to our being a one stop shop for all our clients’ needs,” declares Edison. He however doesn’t believe in outsourcing because any defect at any of the stages will ultimately be counted as your own failure. “A client lost this way or that way is eventually a business failure,” states Edison.
“Everything has to be in-house, whatever be the level of investment as otherwise there will be reasons for you to regret in the long run,” he adds.
He agrees that life of a signage printer is of course hard. Customer come with high expectations – to get products which speak for themselves, are unique and eye catching, are of excellent quality and that can be produced at a moment’s notice. He still believes it to be a satisfying scene at the end of the day, “to actually see our signages across the country as one drives by,” he adds.
Joy gets designs (and sometimes samples too) from clients to produce as per their guidelines. At other occasions they develop prototypes for customers which are then approved by their brand managers and finally produced by Joy. Mamee is a local Malaysian company based out of Melaka for which Joy does the entire functionalities as their advertising agency including development of their promotional products and accessories.
Edison thinks the industry is very competitive. It is a tough uphill road for new entrants in the signage field. “Though innovative ideas will always be capable of creating new niche, yet signage business requires a load of creativity and innovation and also deep pockets to thrive today. The new entrants should come in with this awareness,” advises Edison as he concludes.