Ocean Reeve Publishing buys fourth-gen print co Clark and Mackay

Fourth-generation Brisbane print operation, Clark & Mackay, has been sold to Queensland independent book publisher, Ocean Reeve Publishing, with the official changeover effective from November 1.

Clark & Mackay print is a well known and respected family business which started in 1928 and has always been led by a member of the Mackay family.

Ocean Reeve Publishing is a Brisbane and Gold Coast based international book publishing company that specialises in publishing the works of self and independent authors.

It also regularly produces audiobooks and works directly with authors from Singapore, the United States and India on manuscript development.

Once the sale is completed on November 1, Clark & Mackay owner Neil Mackay will retire from his role but will still consult with the new owners as and when required.

Mackay told Sprinter that the business will operate as is, with no changes to its name, staffing or operations.

“Both parties are happy with the outcome, so we did it. There will be no changes to the way Clark & Mackay operates, and that was one of the reasons why I was happy with the sale,” Mackay told Sprinter.

“The loyalty and service that my clients and suppliers have provided me with has been exceptional. I’ve had clients that have done business with me for 40 years, so I have a lot of associations built up and they’ve been very important to me.

“They’re not happy with me retiring, but this is the best move for the business.”

Mackay said the idea to sell was never a thought until 2019.

“I had to retire sometime, even though I wasn’t looking to do it now. But after working as the central Australian printer for Ocean Reeve Publishing and getting to know their work ethic and integrity, it was actually an easy decision,” Mackay said.

“I knew the way we have looked after our community and customers for the last 92 years would continue under their leadership”.

Ocean Reeve Publishing managing director Ocean Reeve

Ocean Reeve Publishing managing director Ocean Reeve, who has a background in publishing and self-publishing, told Sprinter that he had been looking to bring print into what his business did in-house.

“Going into the last decade, I knew that there was going to be considerable changes in how print was going to adapt and change with the technology that was coming. I started working with Neil right after I started my company and it gave me an insight into his knowledge of how the industry was going,” Reeve said.

“Neil was not going to look down the direction of inkjet printing or wide format, so it made practical sense for us to incorporate our growth that we’ve had as an independent publishing house with print.

“I had a conversation with Neil about 18 months ago. He’d always intended it to stay in the family but as time went on, he could see that for the survival of his company, fresh and young initiatives was taken, and he saw that with me and my business partner.”

Ocean Reeve Publishing will move to the same premises as Clark & Mackay in Brisbane’s Acacia Ridge.

We’ve got a strong personal connection with Neil and are incredibly respectful of the way he and his family have managed the company’s operations. I could never ever see us taking that name down,” he said.

“When you buy a business like that, you buy into the people. We had a meeting with the team and they’re very excited to work with us. If anything’s going to happen to the team, we’re going to add to it.

“Over the next week, we’ll get the signage for Ocean Reeve Publishing up and a lot of our book stock has already been moved over to that premise. I want to see a free events space for authors of South East Queensland and Clark & Mackay has some excellent unused space to be developed for this.

“We’re also looking to lift the logistics side of the business up and having the ability to increase our distribution network is an excellent opportunity for us going into next year.”

Jason Smith, incoming managing director

Jason Smith, who currently holds the position of publishing manager at Ocean Reeve Publishing, will become incoming managing director.

“It’s an exciting step for me, personally and professionally. To continue the legacy Neil and his family have firmly established is an honour, and after working in the publishing industry for the last three years, I can’t wait to get more involved in the print process to physically see the two connect,” he said.

Clark & Mackay was started in 1928, in a premise in the heart of Brisbane, by Bert Clark and John Mackay. The duo commenced their printing business producing print with wooden type, each word being composed one letter at a time using hand fed and foot powered printing presses.

After WWII, John’s son Ian joined the firm along with his brother Garth and over the years, Clark & Mackay changed the process of printing along with the times, going from only letterpress machines to offset printing machines and now into the digital era.

In 1960, Ian’s son Neil Mackay joined the firm as an apprentice of letterpress and offset printing machines.

Ian’s other son, Ross Mackay, joined the firm in 1969 as an apprentice compositor, which led Clark & Mackay to the transition of hand set type and hot metal composition to computers and digital printing.

In the 1960s, Clark & Mackay moved premises to a larger factory in West End. Clark & Mackay progressed over the years with growth as its aim. This also resulted in its purchase of Coronation Press.

To accommodate expansion, its West End facility was extended twice between 1969 and 1994.

In 1994, the business moved to Rocklea, quadrupling the size of Clark & Mackay.

In 1997, Neil’s son Paul Mackay joined the firm as an apprentice machinest. During this time, the purchase and integration of Leader Press (the printing arm of the Catholic Church) further developed Clark & Mackay.

New state of the art digital presses were introduced in 2002 and further enhanced the capabilities of printing in a new era for Clark & Mackay, in line with the evolution of digital technology.

2008 brought a change as Ross Mackay retired to take up his vocation of a Minister in the Uniting Church.

In 2014, Neil relocated the business from Rocklea to a more modern establishment at East Acacia Ridge. At these premises, Neil upgraded machinery and technology, and kept Clark & Mackay at the forefront of all facets of print media.

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