Print’s dead right? That’s what some people insist on saying. Print volumes have shrunk significantly over the last decade or so and the market has undergone an unprecedented period of consolidation.
While many printing companies have gone bust in this tumultuous period and others have resorted to merger and acquisition activity in order to survive and indeed thrive in some instances, there have also been a surprising number of new entrants to the market. PrintWeek caught up with some of these ‘entrepreneurs’ to find out why they believe the printing industry has a prosperous future.
To say Sarah Smith is ‘new’ to the printing industry would not be entirely accurate. She spent more than a quarter of a century working as a sales rep in the paper merchant sector before deciding to embark on the next phase of her career in 2018.
In her previous career, one of Smith’s regular customers was Dynamic Print, in Norwich, which specializes in print that incorporates decorative effects such as hot foiling, blind foil embossing, blind embossing, and die-cutting.
“Barney and Katrina [the former owners] approached me to discuss whether I would be interested in buying their business,” recalls Smith. “After careful consideration, I knew that taking over Dynamic was the right move. Having proved myself working with various paper merchants it felt like the right fit for my future ambitions and ideas.”
She completed her purchase of the business in 2018 and took on the mantle of managing director. Thanks to her former role, she already had extensive knowledge of paper and other materials and traveling up and down the country as a sales rep visiting printing companies of all shapes and sizes also gave her an insight into the print side of things. Despite this experience, she admits that she has undergone a steep learning curve as a business owner.
“In some areas, it has been more of a challenge than I first thought it would be,” says Smith. “However, I knew to go into this that in the early months there would be some long hours and steep learning curves, as I got to grips with the day to day parts of running a business that I had not been involved in previously.
“On the sales side of the business, I have felt at home, albeit the customer base and requirements have been interesting and at a different pace to my days in the paper world. This has been good as it gives time for both sides to work out the best possible solution, without the time pressures that selling paper naturally came with.”
Smith was fortunate to inherit an experienced team, which aided the transition process. “My business partner, Mark Critten has over 20 years’ experience operating our wide selection of hot foiling machines. These enable us to achieve complexly foiled, embossed or debossed results to meet our clients’ intricate designs,” she explains.
As to those people who argue that print is dead she says the answer isn’t a straight forward yes or no. “It is extremely complex given the changing world and with it, the types of print that are in demand,” says Smith. “The technological age has clearly had major impacts on various elements of print that were huge in years past, but have dwindled as society and computing moves on. Yet at the same time, it has opened up other avenues and markets.
“The internet has also enabled far easier connections to customers up and down the country and with the right product, there is still a bright future in the industry. The tactile nature of high-quality paper grades and the power of skillful print techniques to communicate and market effectively will be with us for many decades to come.”
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