What a great adventure… and I’d do it all again
There have been highs, there have been lows… but there is not a thing about the last ten years that Colin Greaves would change. “I would do it all again definitely” he says. “It’s been great fun, a real adventure.”
Colin is managing director of design, print and display specialist Prontaprint in Milton Keynes. The centre runs alongside its sister operation in Leicester and today is the biggest and best of the Prontaprint centres in the UK.
The plant at Crownhill produces work ranging from personalised marking and mailing products to substantial brochures and catalogues on five-figure print runs. It also offers a design service and has the reassuring back-up of substantial state-of-the-art printing facilities at Leicester for larger run orders.
“We are not a high street business,” says Colin. “We are very much focused on the B2B market. People still see us as a ‘quick print’ shop and we can turn orders round quickly for sure, but we are more than that. We produce print runs of up to 100,000.” Colin has steered the Prontaprint ship since he purchased the business in 2004, having worked for Prontaprint’s then franchise operation since 1998.
The Milton Keynes business had been in administration but having worked for the Prontaprint head office as a trouble-shooter assisting ailing franchises. Colin was confident he could turn the business around. In the December. Colin took the plunge, purchased the business and the Prontaprint operation in Northampton. “We were out of administration, the business was clean but it was a lot greyer than that. The first two or three years were really difficult, suppliers wanted payment up front and the fact we were a new business didn’t make a great deal of difference.” The business recovered as Colin built up Prontaprint’s reputation. He purchased Prontaprint’s Leicester operation in 2008 but closed the Northampton office two years later after its performance failed to improve as he had hoped.
Today Prontaprint employs up to 23 staff, six at the firm’s base in Crownhill and 17 at Leicester, which houses the larger printing equipment. The firm uses the latest digital print and large-format technology at both sites to produce reports, short-run printing of brochure, exhibition banners and display stands, corporate gifts, CDs, DVDs and other projects for leading firms locally, including Coca Cola. Mercedes-Benz, motorway service station operator Welcome Break’s head office at Newport Pagnell, hotel operator Jurys Inn and Whittlebury Hall.
The printing industry has changed markedly in the past ten years as it keeps pace with the development of technology. “The advent of the Internet has made all the difference.” says Colin. “We can now transfer large files in seconds and the equipment we use has evolved dramatically and the speed and quality of what we produce has changed out of all recognition.”
Prontaprint invests continually in new equipment as technology changes and Colin uses a national network of trusted and established suppliers to meet customers ever growing expectations. He is also a firm believer in being out and about, meeting customers face to face to deliver the service they expect.
Reflecting on the past ten years, Colin says: “I would do It all again but I would do it slightly differently. I had an arrogance about me and thought that having been around Prontaprint for many year before taking over the Milton Keynes business, this would be easy. I was a bit blinkered and naive but I am pleased with where we have got to.”
What of the future for Prontaprint? ‘We will need to be clever and more diverse.” says Colin. “Printing is changing and a lot more is being done via the Internet but there is definitely a place for well-established quality design and print businesses and those that embrace the change, like Prontaprint, will continue to do well.”
Reproduced by permission of Business MK
Expansion marks our 40-year milestone
This year sees the 40th anniversary of the well-known print company Prontaprint. It has been based in Milton Keynes for nearly 30 of those years and is long established as a supplier of high-quality design and print to local and national businesses. In fact, along with its sister company in Leicester, the operation in the largest Prontaprint business in the UK and Ireland.
Prontaprint has been based at its Crownhill premises for more than ten years and, due to continued growth and expansion, the company has taken over the building next door to double its floor space and production area overnight.
Director Colin Greaves says: “We have been looking around for months for various sites but, when the building next door became available, it was a simple choice to take it on and, with permission from the landlords, we are knocking the wall through to make the building even more functional.”
The new premises will allow Prontaprint to deliver an even better service and has provided more space to store clients’ printed material to ensure a faster turnaround of jobs – something that is becoming more and more important in the current climate. Colin says: “We have seen huge changes in the last 40 years and we are always thinking of ways to improve our quality and service. The new building gives us an ideal opportunity to do this will minimal disruption to our day-to-day operation.”
Prontaprint Milton Keynes has also made significant investment in the latest digital equipment to enhance its offer on short-run high quality brochures and manuals, as well as large format posters, banners and exhibition kits.
“It fits into the new added space perfectly,” says Colin.
Reproduced by permission of Business MK