Special Feature 24 October 2014
Taylor Printing Group hits its stride
- LOCATION Fredericton, NB
- SIZE 21,000 sq. ft.
- SALES $4.5 million
- EMPLOYEES 30
- SERVICES Litho, wide-format and digital printing, full finishing
- CUSTOMERS Government, institutions, agencies and local businesses
CHALLENGE: Keeping that edge
Taylor Printing Group began operations in the winter of 2005. Following a few years of dramatic consolidation for the Maritimes’ printing industry, a number of former owners and executives with a combined 150 years of industry experience decided to form a new company, building its staff with the best employees from a recently closed facility in Fredericton. The group saw opportunities in the Maritimes, and knew that companies based outside of the region didn’t understand the needs of Atlantic Canada.
The goal was to build a business that utilized the latest available technology. “It took about a year a half to put everything into place. We built the business from the ground up, with all new equipment,” says Scott Williams, vice president of operations and one of the remaining founding partners. “We were able to get financing for the new equipment based on the reputation and relationships of some of our founders.The first year was not easy, but we were able to become established and grow.”
Staying on top of technology is a challenge, says Williams. “We are always doing repairs and maintenance, of course, but it’s important to look at which way the industry is going.” To that end, Taylor Printing replaced all of its prepress equipment in 2007, undertaking a significant upgrade within two years of opening its doors. Maintaining that edge is important.
“We’re a traditional offset printer. We know that stuff. It’s easy to get comfortable with what you know,” says Williams. “We’ve been doing offset for nearly 20 years. You can do a lot of neat things with that, but we’re tapped out. People are looking for new, creative things to set themselves apart.”
RESPONSE: Lead with technology
Taylor Printing moved into shorter runs and digital printing in a modest way, with a pair of mid-production Ricoh 6501 colour devices. But the company sees even greater opportunities in wide-format signage and display. It bought a small wide-format company in late 2012—coincidentally and fortuitously located across the street—with which it already had a good relationship, often feeding it jobs. “We found we were buying more and more from them, as our customers increasingly asked for wide-format work,” notes Williams. Wide format was not the firm’s core business, and the sale of its assets was a win-win proposition.
The purchase gaveTaylor some equipment, staff, and a list of customers. “We could identify prospects from our own customer list and decide what business to go after,” says Williams. He notes: “Companies like ours that get into wide
format can hit the ground running. Our sales force has something new to sell. We’re able to talk to agencies and institutions to get into the bigger work.”
To expand further, Taylor made significant investments in new equipment, including an Océ Arizona 460 UV flatbed printer, and Zund L2500 router and cutting table. Williams thinks the Océ was among the first of its kind installed in Canada. The Océ Arizona 460 is a 2.5 m flatbed device with roll capability that prints up to 20.3 sq. m per hour over a broad range of media and applications. It has six independent ink channels with support for new applications, varnish for spot and flood decorative applications, and double-opacity white ink printing if varnish is not required.
“It was the next logical step to better serve this market. Combined with our new Zund cutter, it has enabled us to add quality wide-format printing and services for current clients and to gain new customers as well,” Williams says. “The cutting table really has set us apart. We are doing really crazy stuff. It’s fun too.”
RESULTS: Booming business
Investing in these new technologies to grow the business has been an unqualified success. “Our wide format has really taken off,” Williams enthuses. “We haven’t advertised it at all. When we built our business models, we were hoping to run [the printer] three hours a day. Now it’s printing eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week.” New business has come from a variety of sources. In addition to offering existing customers more services, Taylor’s sales staff is finding opportunities connecting with potential new clients.
Williams finds that Taylor has a competitive advantage in being able to offer complete service. “We can close the loop. If someone is doing a campaign, we can do brochures, mailers, and also, for ‘the big day,’ we can do the podium, backdrops, banners, pavement graphics… Everyone is crunched for time. We can deliver everything, with consistency,” he says. “There are people good at wide format, digital, or offset, but we have it all in house. That’s been encouraging. What we thought would happen is coming true.” The last piece is fulfillment and mailing, which Taylor is now making plans to bring in house. When the company started nine years ago, Taylor’s founders had to hunt for financing. Now, “the banks bend over backwards,” says Williams.
John Zarwan is an internationally known consultant concentrating on business development, profit improvement, and marketing strategy.