Mark Gervais, Ningbo Shenzhou Knitting Company
The only limitation in the future of printing is our imagination, says Mark Gervais, Director of Screen Print at the Chinese textile giant.
When did you first hold a squeegee?
In 1977, when I first began printing circuit boards for Apple Computer in Silicon Valley.
When did you realise that you’d found a job that would become a life-long passion?
The same day I was taught that screen printing was a blend of art and science, and that I could print more than just circuit boards.
Which occasions have made you feel most privileged?
When meeting some of the industry greats who then chose to share their wisdom, experience and knowledge with me.
What pearls of wisdom would you offer to the younger members of our community looking to establish their future in print?
Remain passionate and teachable, and give back to the industry, what the industry has given to you, to get you where you are. Also, know the difference between doing things differently and doing different things and when to choose one over the other.
What has motivated you to solve challenges where others may have just changed direction?
A competitive and pioneer spirit to overcome adversity and find a workable solution through science.
Do you feel that environmental responsibility is a prerequisite for any company trading or a luxury to be enforced by the government?
I feel it is a prerequisite. It’s clear that now is the time to make environmental responsibility a priority.
What is the value of your experience as a printer belonging to FESPA?
Invaluable! I can honestly say that the contacts and relationships I was fortunate to make 15 years ago have enabled much of my success today.
How did you make the move into textile screen printing from printed circuit boards?
A dear friend of mine introduced me to a struggling t-shirt printing operation that needed someone with solid screen print process control knowledge – the rest, as they say, is history!
How have you assisted the companies you have worked with to grow?
Through the implementation of quality process and procedure controls, inspiring their artistic creative embellishment innovation and creating systematic facility organisation and space utilisation while advancing their knowledge of the art of screen printing.
Where do you find the value or satisfaction of teaching others to become better printers?
I have been fortunate to have learned some extraordinary screen print skills from some of the very best printers in the world. I was also taught to give back to the industry what the industry has given you to get you where you are. You don’t own the information – you merely understand it. So give it away freely as it was given to you. This has been my mantra and my duty. I truly enjoy seeing those I teach “get it”!
Give us an idea of the scale of Ningbo Shenzhou’s operation, and the size and reputation of its customer. What particular challenges do these factors entail?
Shenzhou Group International Holdings Ltd has an annual revenue turnover of US $25bn. It is a fully vertical garment manufacturer with a capacity to produce in excess of 1.5 million garments a day. Headquartered in Ningbo in China, with locations in Cambodia and Vietnam, we service several of the best-known global sportswear apparel brands.
With a combined total of 85,000 employees, we strive to improve our combined operational efficiency and sustainability performance through modernisation, automation and digitalisation.
The very modernised and spacious screen print division, with two operations in China, two in Vietnam and two in Cambodia, have a total of 156 semi-automatic machines in operation, fully digital computer-to-screen imaging equipment, digital hybrid technology and has over 6.5km of manual print long tables. Their combined efforts produce between 1.5 and 1.8 million printed images a day.
What is the future of textile screen printing/digital printing?
It’s endless! Since the strength of one technology supports the weakness of the other, it seems the only limitation is imagination. We’ve already begun to see 3D printing on direct to garment (DTG) and soon it’s moving into hybrid. Our own imagination will become the innovation.
As a world-class screen printer within FESPA’s community, do you feel that the federation is still as relevant as it was before YouTube and the internet disrupted business networking?
I do feel the federation is still relevant. As an association, FESPA has the benefit of drawing in much of the premier talent in our industry. FESPA then provides a platform, in various formats, for those who participate to share their experience and knowledge to others. This perpetuates our trade and breeds professionalism. The internet and YouTube have yet to accomplish this.
Where do you see opportunities to combine processes? Where do you see the benefits in this multi-process industry?
This is a new division we’ve created with speciality embellishments. As the consumer becomes more sophisticated, they want more. It’s all about innovation, about creating the “wow” factor with perceived premium valued decoration ideas. With screen print, laser-cut appliqué, embroidery and bonding, we now have an arsenal of various effects to work with.
Having achieved so many creative innovations over your career, do you have any burning desire to do more with your expertise?
Continuing on the path while teaching, training and enabling the next generation of others who will take this craft further.
When printers say that they haven’t got time to be a part of their industry association what comment would you offer?
Simply that I can only share my success story with them, which came about through actively participating in our industry associations. Those efforts alone enabled me to achieve things I never could have otherwise.
Where would you like to go next in your career?
I’d like to grow older while teaching high school or college students about screen printing.
How do you like to spend your vacations?
In the great outdoors, enjoying beautiful scenery, with friends and family, while participating in fun activities which create lasting memories.
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