Phil Taylor shares business wisdom

Franklin Web founder Phil Taylor took to the stage at PrintEx this morning to share knowledge gained over a lifetime of print, having started one of the most innovative printing businesses in the country, which was purchased by the IVE Group in 2016.

Taylor got his start in catalogues as a high school student, after publishing the local school magazine, he sent out invitations at other schools in his region offering the same work. The result was $30,000 worth of business, and a passion for print that came to take form as Franklin Web.

As he tells it, “We bought our first web press for $80k in the 80s, a Toshiba press, and bought six more over 20 years, paying for them as we went along.”

The key early advantage in Taylor’s first purchase was the shorter cut off, coming back from Japan with a web-press with a 546mm cut off delivered a paper saving of nine per cent. From the efficiency advantage, Taylor came to win multiple contracts.

“We realised we were never going to be the biggest”, he explains.

“In the early days, there were 12 printers bigger than us, so we wanted to be the most clever. We moved into inline finishing, which proved to be a winner, and employed a graphic designer in the early days. That differentiated us, we could put together mockups, go to clients, and open new doors in business.”

When bringing in retailers to win their catalogue business, Franklin Web would put together different pitches for every single person in the room.

“We would do mockups, putting together a complete presentation for every brand at the table. They could see it with colour mockups, personalised to them. It impressed the socks off them that we went through all that trouble. We knew each brand, what they were doing, and could make the decision maker and decision influencer select us,” Taylor told the crowd.

He also shared a process for dealing with paper price rises, cheekily sharing that he often developed temporary deafness when paper suppliers came in to announce price rises.

As a more practical process, Taylor notes, “What we would do is look at opportunities to print on different paper, sizes, formats.”

Most important, for Taylor, was differentiation. As he explains, “We ran a different set of inks to a lot of companies, our work was very glossy and it showed in the marketplace.”

As for what will change in the marketplace, Taylor believes, “In my days at Franklin, we wanted to move from producing a million copies of one, and make every copy one in a million. With digital printing, and the speed they are running at, that one in a million copy is absolutely doable.”

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