TLC Vic back in business after fire

When trade only print finishing factory TLC Victoria burnt down in 2016 owner Barry Webster almost walked away but that was not to be with two new factories in Braeside up and running.

Before the blaze destroyed his West Melbourne factory three years ago, the business had been operating well with all its services and management under one roof, with a smaller Mordialloc plant in the southern suburbs.

At the time of the fire Webster had diversified into signage printing and had purchased three Signarama franchises while also looking to introduce other machinery and services to the print finishing business.

The fire not only destroyed all of TLC’s stock and equipment but it also took Webster’s plans going forward.

“You just feel like walking away, it was devastating,” Webster, TLC Vic’s managing director, told Sprinter.

“You know I was 53 and I thought I don’t want to go through building a business again.

“But then once you process what’s happened you have some clarity as to what direction to take, so we regrouped and set about planning the rebuild. I was fortunate that our management team had the drive, ideas, skills and work ethic to start over again.”

After getting by working across sites in Mordialloc, Docklands and North Melbourne, Webster took the plunge and bought land to build two mirrored imaged factories in Braeside which became operational in May 2019.

He also shed the signage business from his repertoire and has returned to focusing on core finishing services of laminating, spot UV varnishing, D/S taping, patch and fridge magnets and forme cutting. The three Signarama franchises were sold in December 2018.

“We don’t do large format work currently. We had three Signaramas which we sold to concentrate on our core business of TLC. We just decided to focus on the print finishing part which is where our strength is,” Webster said commending his team including production managers Andrew Ballingall and Bob de Santa-ana, business manager Garry Wardell.

“We went into signage and it was working really well because it was all under one roof but after the fire we had to split it up and have a factory in north Melbourne, a factory in Mordialloc, an office in Docklands, it just got too difficult to run.”

Webster says owning their own premises has given him great piece of mind going forward and is looking forward to continuing to supply trade finishing services to the industry.

“We have three spot UV screen presses and five large format laminators covering both thermal and wet laminating to cater for both the commercial print and packaging sectors, plus forme cutting,” he said.

“We are well equipped to handle any work our customers want to send our way.

Webster has also taken a particular interest in the packaging sector and has large format wet laminators which can handle a sheet size up to 1030 x 1430 which suits the large packaging companies for laminated processes such as silver and gold metallised films, clear polyester as well as other speciality films like soft touch, anti-scuff, gloss and matt laminations.

“I would like to thank our long term and new clients have been amazingly supportive of our investment back into the trade, and they have been offering advice as to what they’d like us to introduce going forward and we’re taking that on board,” he said.

“We’ve moved into one building thus far and it looks like we are going to be moving into the other one soon as we will need the space.

“We’ve worked hard to be able to own everything outright including our factories and it is a big weight off our minds.

“It now allows us to sit and plan our next moves, which may include purchasing new equipment or looking for potential businesses to purchase, in order to move into new areas in the print finishing area that our clients are asking us to install here in the Southern suburbs.

“It’s been a long three years following the fire but we’ve invested back into the industry and we’re in a good place.

“Our management both on and off the floor has never been stronger and we are looking forward to our future.

“We are currently looking for staff in all areas, including film laminator operators and screen printers.”

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