They say you should always read the fine print. You are now, literally. It is why we are proud to say we have used a local printer – SA Design & Print – to roll off the presses all 100 editions of Coast Lines.
Beyond the loyalty also lay quality control and pricing factors. With this comes the irony that, while local business leaders promote “go local”, they send their printing work to Adelaide (mostly without getting a local quote) while even more printing work is coming back our way from Adelaide.
It is a remarkable achievement by this self-made printing and signage business created by Geoff McRostie. There is more work from its Whyalla office, Kingston in the South-East, and especially through recently acquiring a highly-successful and respected printing firm – Sundowner Press in Port Adelaide.
Also, SAD&P placed its signage business under the one umbrella two years ago and relocated it from the city to here. With the changes and loyalty to the region have come more local jobs; more work for local contractors.
However, along this trail of success Geoff has epitomised the saying about keeping your nose to the grindstone. Like others on his family tree with regional newspaper ink in their veins the pressures of deadlines and wanting everything to be perfect has meant a constant struggle to keep up with the workload. At times, Geoff’s working hours have bordered on the realms of bizarre. Until now.
In a significant change, Mark Whitmarsh, of Port Elliot, has joined SAD&P in the new role as manager having been CEO at an Adelaide-based envelope company, the biggest in the southern hemisphere, grossing $55 million profit p.a. and employing 200 people.
Mark has spent a lifetime in printing, earning national acclaim for helping to write the innovative online Quote and Print program, which has led to a huge change to the Australian printing industry. With his game-breaking background, and allowing clients to obtain quotes online using the program, SAD&P has dramatically improved the turnaround of jobs.
Geoff does not shy from the fact that because his business has grown rapidly it can be consumed by the pressure of deadlines.
“Mark is at the forefront of this Quote and Print system, and we are now able to analyse all of the information and progress reports on production to greatly improve our efficiency,” Geoff said. “People have the option of quickly receiving a quote using the online program – it is a simple process.
“This is not only about growing the business, but controlling what we have already got. It’s about prompt turnaround – print and signage. For the first time we will not be a small business always growing and struggling with the workload, but a medium business capable of remaining in total control and offering far better customer service.
“I want existing clients to benefit from this growth; this is our commitment to them because they have been so loyal and in many cases understanding.”
Geoff said with the acquisition of Sundowner Press there was a personal commitment to Wayne Pritchard, and his wife, Jan, who previously owned the business.
“Wayne created Sundowner Press and made it a well-established business based in Port Adelaide,” Geoff said. “Wayne has retired after earning tremendous respect from everyone in the printing trade, including his clients. Everyone wishes him well; I admire him. He always ran his business like it should be – with a lot of care and pride in the industry. We now have the responsibility of making sure his amazing work continues as he would want it to.”
When SAD&P first printed Coast Lines it had a staff on four and two Fuji Xerox machines. It now has a full-time staff of eight, another two part-time plus a highly accredited graphic designer/pre-press person to join the team in a few weeks. Additional contractors are also used for signage.
The business has also evolved to its sixth Xerox, a state-of-the art digital printer that will enable SAD&P to produce larger books online without the necessity of having to go to a more expensive burst binding. Geoff marvels at the advancement of digital technology.
In recent years SAD&P also entered the offset market, purchasing a two-colour press, and the installation of a four-colour press that enables it to print larger print jobs like Coast Lines more economically and certainly within a shorter delivery frame time. Added in recent weeks was a one-colour press perfect for specialist jobs. They’re Heidelberg machines that purr, the Rolls Royces of presses, and in the early hours of the morn amidst the smell of ink the printer Mike Langham caresses them as if they were a RR.
There is also a Roland wide format machine that enables SAD&P to produce media for all forms of signage, including specialty work like one-off large format posters/artwork prints.
“We now have all the plant and equipment that we need,” Geoff said. “It’s time to grow the business further with the confidence knowing that we also have the right staff to handle the workload and be far more efficient both with printing and signage.”
Mark said the ability of SAD&P to effectively combine offset and digital printing, plus signage, is almost unique to the industry in Australia.
“Some may do one or two of these areas, but not all three elements,” he said. “It is quite an achievement. Some of the digital printers have had a try at signage, but it is very rare to also have offset printing with two big presses and now a third. It is something that people should appreciate.
“It is a changing industry. On the eastern seaboard you have numerous closures and buy-outs; the industry is shrinking. To have a story like this, where you have a smaller, local operation that is expanding has a great feel about it.
“There is printing equipment in this Hill Street building which is newer or in better condition than at many places in town. This business has also made big investment in Whyalla and has remained loyal to the town through the hard times.
“This is a serious approach. It’s more than just being based here and employing local people; it’s about insisting on quality. Geoff has brought others into the operation that will considerably lift the process that will be more beneficial to clients.
“The acquisition in Adelaide has brought almost immediate impact; bringing new business to this region. It raises the whole profile of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula; that there are businesses here that can be as good as anyone anywhere else.
“The online quoting system, dedicated software used by only about 50 companies across Australia and NZ, will dramatically streamline the entire operation.
“Geoff has definitely increased his capacity to handle existing and new work, certainly meeting those commitments not only through new plant and equipment but human resources. He has exceptional business development skills.
“I liked the idea of working for a local business that cares about the region where I live and is going places. We have a bright young man here in Jake, a Victor Harbor High student who was employed as a first-year apprentice graphic pre-press designer. Without this opportunity he may have joined countless other school-leavers moving to the city to search for a job. He is a very impressive lad, but it’s also about supporting our own region.
“When I was approached by Geoff I was quick to accept the challenge here, and I am genuinely excited. It is why I relocated here with my family.”
Given the amount of work SAD&P has brought from Adelaide, and the remarkable state-wide growth of the signwriting element – not to mention new employment – some may throw in another old cliche: you wouldn’t read about it. But you just did, in fine print.