Printers boost business by diversifying

Two Sydney printers threw open their doors last night to show the industry how they successfully diversified their businesses, and to encourage others to do the same.

Dozens of printers turned up to the LIA-sponsored event to get a peak under the hood of Marrickville firms John Fisher Printing and Imagination Graphics as directors Tony Fisher and Emmanuel Buhagiar showed how their businesses have evolved over the past few years.

John Fisher began life as an offset printer 60 years ago under Tony’s grandfather and now runs two five-colour presses, but in the past decade started to see changes in the requirements of its clients.

“Clients were going elsewhere for their point-of-sale needs and we saw the opportunity to get more from our client relationships,” Fisher says.

“We recognised that we were able to achieve better synergies and outcomes having a wide format inkjet capability married with our traditional offset.”

In 2010 the company bought an EFI Vutek GS3200 wide format printer and in April traded it in for a GS3250LX Pro that can print on almost any substrate with cold-cured UV technology.

“We saw a need to diversify the business enough to keep us in touch with what we could offer our core customers and at the same time keeping our eyes open to new opportunities,” Fisher says.

“We could now offer a diverse range of products in A2, A1 and A0+ and had combined technologies that would complement each other. More campaigns could be completed across both formats and kept in-house.”

Fisher says this did involve cannibalising offset work, but since run lengths were reducing and it would likely lose short run work to another digital printer if they didn’t make the switch.

He says the decision has led to increased business in other areas and the company can sell more short run jobs more cost effectively with better margins.

Imagination Graphics started as a prepress and design company when Buhagiar went out on his own after many years working in prepress for various printers.

After years doing trade prepress for the Sydney market, Buhagiar bought out his business partners and decided to make the jump into digital printing.

“One day I said to my team ‘make the move with me into print’ and they did and here we are,” he says.

His latest diversification resulted from his move into wedding printing. Imagination started working with paper retailer Amazing Paper as he printed personalised wedding products.

A year ago Buhagiar bought Amazing Paper and moved it into the top floor of his building. He says his motivation was not just the wedding print work, but the business happy couples might bring from their own workplaces.

“Everyone works somewhere,” he says. “If you do a good job, they will talk about it at work and you can get other business from that.”

John Fisher and Imagination Graphics have been working together for more than 20 years. With perfectly complementary businesses and only a few blocks apart, they routinely do work for each other to offer full service to all their clients.

Buhagiar says more printers need to trust each other and not be afraid to work together so they can offer customers more.

“We do work for a lot of printers but they trust us. Everything is confidential and no one sees each other’s work and we’re quick on prepress,” he says.

“Everyone is thinking doom and gloom in the industry, but it’s only that if you think it is. If you get out there, knock on doors, do a good job and develop trust, you will get the work.”

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