Gavin Edwards started work on the presses at Gosford Printing as the new millennium clicked over, and six years later he bought the business from founder Bob Pickett. Edwards says, “I always wanted more, I was looking for opportunity, then this one came up. I knew the business, I knew the staff, I knew the market so it was a straightforward decision.”
However 2006 was a different era, it was two years before the GFC wreaked its devastating trail of havoc, extending all the way from the glass and chrome towers of Wall Street to the leafy byways of the beautiful NSW Central Coast. When Edwards bought Gosford Printing there were a multitude of commercial printers in the central coast, today there are just two to speak of, with Gosford Printing one of those, looking after mainly the southern part of the region.
Edwards though hasn’t just survived the maelstrom that has been the post-GFC era, he has taken his business forward and today runs a multi-press offset and digital business that is serving the needs of the Central Coast community and beyond.
The press hall in Kincumber is as neat as any you will see in print, a reflection of the desk and the mindset of Edwards. In fact the building is new to the company, after 47 years in the same location on Bob Pickett’s property Edwards moved the company last year, like many business owners using his SMSF to buy a property that he operates the business from and teeing himself up with the opportunity to generate a retirement income stream in the future. The current location was chosen for exposure, it is in a fast growing light industrial area, Edwards says, “I wanted visibility, the business has been tucked away for almost half a century, the new premises give us that, we are right in the centre of things in an area of high activity.”
During the 11 years that Edwards has been the owner of Gosford Printing he has instigated many changes, one of them bringing prepress inhouse. With a quartet of presses on the go, run lengths coming down, and turnaround times decreasing, the need for plates on demand was clear, so Edwards invested in an Agfa CTP line. He says, “We were using a small local trade house for our film, who did a good job, but as our requirement grew and scheduling times became compressed bringing prepress inhouse was a smart move, and so it has proved. Now we can have plates as soon as we need them. The Agfa line has been tremendous, it is top class engineering and never missed a beat.”
Gosford Printing is a Heidelberg house when it comes to presses, with a quartet of GTOs; two four-colours, a two-colour, a single-colour and a Kord cylinder. Like everything in the Gosford factory the presses are immaculate. Edwards says, “Maintenance is key for us, we do some ourselves but call on external engineers for the intricate requirements.”
Gosford is a jobbing printer serving the local community, and with the Central Coast shaking off its retirement village tag it is a community with plenty going on. Work also comes from around NSW and from Sydney. Sales is one of Edwards’ many hats, a situation that many print business owners will identify with. He says, “I do all the sales activity, as well as managing production and running the business. Word of mouth works really well for us, and we have loyal customers who stay with us year after year. I am not at all complacent though, I know we are only as good as our last job, and knowing that is a great quality control method, we all know every job that goes out of the door has to be great, otherwise we could lose that customer. Thankfully that rarely happens though.”
Edwards has also bought digital printing into the business, he says, “Digital means we have another string to our bow. Clients don’t care how a job is printed, they don’t want to know, as long as the quality is at the level they expect. We determine whether the job is digital or offset not the client, and that will depend on criteria like run length or turnaround time.”
He brought digital in around seven years ago, initially as a colour proofing device, then moving into short run production, he says, “For jobs like 100 A4 flyers we were outsourcing, when we installed the digital printer we could do everything inhouse. We calibrate the digital press to the offset machines every month, so it matches what they output.” Edwards has a Fuji Xerox C75 digital colour press, his second.
He says, “I guess I am loyal to my suppliers, just like my customers are loyal to me, and for the same reason. If a supplier is giving me what I want, if the service is reliable and consistent and top quality, and if the price is good, why would I spend time and energy looking to see if I can get a better deal elsewhere? I may be able to I may not, but I don’t have the time for that, and neither do my customers. If they are happy with the service they will stick with me, and I’m the same, if I’m happy with my suppliers it leaves me free to concentrate on other aspects of the business.”
Brochures, flyers, booklets, business stationary, anything that can fit in a A3 sheet is meat and drink for the company. Run lengths vary from the low to the high, Edwards says, “We can just as easily get a run of 5000, 500 or 50. Having both digital and offset gives us a flexibility, which we work with all the time.”
The company has a full gamut of inhouse finishing equipment including a booklet maker. Edwards has added to the finishing arsenal over the years, he says, “It fits in with my strategy of inhouse control. These days we outsource virtually nothing, I like to have the whole job here, so we have command over the time and the quality.”
Edwards has bought a wide format printer, an Epson Stylus Pro, which he put in a couple of years ago, but more as a service to his clients than a business activity. He says, “We have clients who for instance would want 5000 A4 flyers, 50 A3 posters and 5 A1 posters. If we turn those clients down on the poster work they will obviously go elsewhere for them, and they may get the flyers done there as well, as the convenience of one supplier works, so we may lose the job, that is why we bought the Epson. We do use a trade wide format printer if we get anything the Epson can’t handle, but it is not a market we are going to enter, we have no issues with the printing of course, but installing signs is a whole different skillset, we want to focus on commercial print.”
Staffing levels have remained fairly constant over the years that Edwards has owned Gosford Printing, around 8-10 people employed on a permanent basis with casual staff on demand. Edwards says, “I have done well with staff, they are highly skilled and motivated, we all know we are competing not just with other printers but with other means of communication, so we are all committed to producing the best possible work for our clients. We are proud of each job that we send out of the door here, it has our name on it.”
Through the turbulence that has impacted print over the past decade Edwards has managed to steer Gosford Printing along a steady course of what by any measure is success, by focusing on serving his customers, bringing everything he can inhouse, and investing wisely, in both the company and his own futures. With his current set-up that future looks bright, as the steady as she goes course continues.
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